Sleep is a precious commodity for many new parents. Learning how to get more sleep is not always easy, and is very personalized. What works for some, does not work for others. What some parents feel comfortable with, others will not. I will start by saying that this is not a post about how to get your baby to sleep. However, it is likely that some points in this post will likely help your baby sleep better, along with you. This post is about you, mom, as the primary caregiver of a small baby.
Stay Off The Phone
I am as addicted to my smartphone as much as many other moms are. It is our life-line, our sanity and often our only connection with the ‘real’ world. However, going on your phone during the night is highly likely to cause a sleep disturbance for you. It might also disturb your partner and your baby. Staying off your cell at night might make middle of the night feedings pretty boring, but that is exactly what they should be. When your mind stays quiet and the room stays dark, you will be able to fall back asleep faster. There are two exceptions to this rule for me. Firstly if you are using the phone as a flashlight and secondly, if you have a baby monitor connected to your phone.
Keep Your Baby In Your Room, Or Don’t
This point is a highly personal one. Keeping your baby in your room for the first six months is recommended by Safe Sleep Guidelines to help prevent SIDS. It can also be helpful for mom to go back to sleep faster. With the baby nearby, there is less movement, fewer lights and you should be awake for less time. You will hear your baby faster and this can often help you soothe them easier. For some babies however, being in the room with the parents is highly disruptive for them and for mom and dad. Moving to their own room may help them stay asleep longer if they are disturbed by your movements and noises in the night. Assess your families needs and be prepared to try both options to see how everyone sleeps.
Be Prepared For The Nighttime
If you have a bedside table, ensure all the items you could possibly need right within arms reach. Having the baby in your room will make things faster, but even if you have the baby out of your room, having everything you could possibly need nearby will save fumbling during the night. Decreasing noise and lights in the night will make a big difference. Diapers, wipes, change of clothes, formula (if bottle-fed), clean bottles, diaper cream, etc should all be organized before you go to sleep.
Think About Lighting
Investing in a small dim lamp or a lamp with a dimmer is a good idea. However, to contradict myself in the earlier point, using the flashlight feature on you smartphone will usually provide minimal lighting and disturb everyone as little as possible. The goal is to have light on as briefly as possible. Turn it on to complete the diaper change and prepare for the feed, but I recommend turning off all lights for the actual feed once you are comfortable with your feeding routine.
Keep Their Tummy Full
We typically start our babies on a clear feeding routine early on. In our home, the baby goes to bed around 7pm and the older children around 730pm. Around 6pm I start a bath and then feed the baby. Around 10pm, or whenever my husband and I go to bed, we give one more feed, even if the baby is not up. We call it a ‘dream feed’. We quietly and quickly change the diaper if needed and feed them one last time before we head to sleep. They typically do this while still mostly asleep. Be sure to keep the lights low or off and make as little noise as possible. It is important to use the above tips (about lighting, cell phones and being prepared for the night) to make this tip work. Ensure you have a bottle that is convenient, safe and easy to hold during this feed. We have always used Philip Avent bottles. If you are breast and bottle feeding, Philips Avent Natural Bottles allows you to easily transition between breast and bottle when needed. The bottles are BPA free. They also have a valve to help prevent the air from going to the baby’s tummy. Of course this will also help with sleep as it helps to prevent colic. To make it even easier on you, the bottle is ergonomically designed and is easy to hold in any direction.
Keep Your Baby In View
Whether you are a first-time mom or a sixth, you worry about your baby. If you choose to have your baby in a different room than you, or once your baby is old enough to move to their own room, keeping a close eye on your little one will also calm you and help you sleep better. Having a video monitor where you can clearly see and hear your baby in the night will help to keep your mind at peace and help you all sleep better.
Getting more sleep as a new mom could help decrease your risk for postpartum mental health issues and your physical health as well. It can also teach your baby to sleep for longer periods of time at night. Are there any tips you have for our readers to help them get more sleep?