Sleep is like a magical, elusive unicorn in those first few months with a baby
Always tired because your baby won’t sleep? Have you tried everything from white noise and sleepsuits to lavender baths and co-sleeping, but nothing seems to work?
One of the hardest parts of parenthood for many parents with a newborn is lack of sleep. OK, you may have expected to be more tired than usual as a new parent but you probably didn’t expect to be a walking zombie-like shell of your former self….
In this article, we want to tackle what for many is the most distressing part of being a new parent: sleep, or lack thereof. Study our tips below and approach achieving a better sleep for both yourself and your baby during the first six months.
1. Don’t worry about “bad habits”
Try not to worry about what you feel or have been told are “bad habits” – there is no such thing in the early days. Your task is to ensure that your baby feels loved, safe and secure, and that their needs are met lovingly and without delay.
Despite some on lookers reporting that you will spoil your baby, the reverse is actually true. These early months are about bonding and laying a foundation for an unconditional loving relationship that will be enduring. The less you resist this dynamic, the faster the need to be held all the time will evolve into your baby feeling more robust and confident to lay down or sleep without as much input.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Draft in plenty of support and don’t be afraid to ask for help! Make sure, if applicable, that both parents are sharing the load. It can be a good idea for new mums is to go to bed early, at around 7/8pm, and allow the other parent to provide the bedtime feed, either by expressing or otherwise. Mum can then do the next feed when required, and this way it is possible to have had a block of 4-5 hours or unbroken sleep. Getting a block of sleep such as this can make a huge difference to how you feel.
3. Regulate exposure to light
Getting out and about and regulating your baby’s body to natural bright light by day, and dimming lights come evening, can help in a number of ways. Exposure to light, specifically in the mid afternoon, is helpful in regulating your child’s sleeping patterns and promotes a deeper, more restful sleep. This can also help baby to distinguish between day and night before the young body starts to make the sleep hormone melatonin. It may also help you feel better as this activity will help enhance your mood and motivation too.
4. Don’t be afraid to use motion
Don’t be afraid to use the car, pram, the swing or a sling to enable sleep. Always do so in line with the manufacturers and safe sleep guidelines, but certainly utilise your baby’s desire for motion that can significantly help them achieve sleep. Although not a long term solution, it certainly is great to help you get through what may be a challenging and tiring time.
5. Parent yourself
To be the best parent to your infant, you need to parent yourself first. As well as deepening the relationship with your baby, travel inwards to the relationship with yourself too. Meet your needs, put yourself first, take time out, and continue to ask for help. Doing something kind for yourself means your tank of self-love is high, and then you will have enough to give to another. You cannot give to another what you do not have for yourself. Time out is not selfish as you may believe; it is critical. Do your nails, go for a walk alone, or try an online exercise class. Don’t be hard on yourself. Although we feel the baby must come first, parents actually need to put themselves first in order to be able to be emotionally available, as well as physically.