Parenthood can be a difficult and often overwhelming experience for most of us. Though having your little bundle of joy in your life is wonderful, and you love them more than anything else in the world, you might find that you start to get a little distressed when you haven’t had a good night’s sleep for weeks – or even months.
Sleep deprivation can be extremely dangerous as well as exhausting. It’s not easy to care for yourself, your baby, and the rest of your family when you’re constantly fatigued, and drowsy driving is responsible for almost 100,000 crashes every year. Not only that, but you also run the risk of giving a bad impression at work if you’re constantly falling asleep on the job.
The trouble is that countless things can keep us awake as new parents. We constantly worry about whether the baby is okay, and stress over other issues such as washing, tidying, and even paying the bills, and as soon as we begin to nod off, that seems to be the time when children wake up and need our attention.
Since a lack of sleep can increase a new mother’s risk of postpartum mood problems, and also cause a host of other issues, it’s important to take steps to take back your sleeping pattern as quickly as possible. Here are a few tips that could help:
Limit nap time
It’s difficult to wake a sleeping baby when all you want to do is snooze yourself, but sleeping for too long during the day can ruin your child’s nighttime sleep. If your baby sleeps longer than two hours, it’s a good idea to wake them up, give them some food, and keep them awake for as long as you can. If you think that your baby really needs longer naps, you can increase this limit to two-and-a-half hours, but try to break up sleeps throughout the day.
Try not to worry
Avoiding stress is something that’s easier said than done, but it’s important as a new parent. We often know that the best time to get sleep is when the baby is sleeping, but mothers panic that they won’t hear their baby cry if they snooze. The truth is that you’re often more attuned to your baby’s needs than you think, and you can always buy a monitor if you need extra reassurance.
Use pre-sleep routines
Babies do best when they’re exposed to a regular structure and routine. If you create a consistent routine for your child, then this will help them to fall asleep faster when bedtime comes around. Your routine might include singing their favorite song, closing the curtains, or turning on a tune before they go to sleep.
Speaking of sleep-time routines, remember that there are a few accessories out there that can help your baby to drift off more easily. For instance, in the category of soothing toys and accessories, a crib mobile can give them something to focus on when they’re drifting off, particularly when music is playing at the same time. You could even consider getting a white noise machine to help drown out other sounds around the house.
Feel free to ask for help
New parents, particularly first-time parents, often convince themselves that if they can’t do everything by themselves, then there’s something wrong. However, it’s perfectly normal to ask for help when you need it. Remember that you shouldn’t be expected to be the only person to get up and tend to your baby during the night, and your partner also has a part to play. At the same time, if you need some help from friends and family with preparing food or dealing with other chores while you get your baby ready for their pre-sleep routine, don’t be afraid to ask.
The sleepless nights won’t last forever
When you’re an exhausted new parent, it can be easy to think that you’ll never have a good night’s sleep again, particularly after months of disturbed naps and waking up exhausted. However, the important thing to remember is that the struggle doesn’t last forever, and you’ll be sleeping happily again in no time.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most healthy babies start to settle into a routine by the time they’re at two to three months of age, and almost all babies should be capable of sleeping soundly through the night by the time they reach six months. Though this rule won’t apply to everyone, you will eventually find that your child begins to rest more peacefully, and so you do.