Ah, the age old discussion about newborns and sleeping.
If your baby is a newborn, I’m guessing you aren’t getting much sleep right now.
The thing about newborns is they aren’t supposed to sleep long stretches, not until they’re a little bit older. They need to eat more often because they’re tummies are itty-bitty, and that means they wake up more often. So it’s not a question of how to get your newborn to sleep more, right? No, rather the real discussion is how do YOU get more sleep!
I will admit that it took me until my third baby to take any of this advice to heart, and I strongly believe that’s why my third baby was my easiest. He was my easiest transition, my easiest newborn, my best sleeper (except for napping), etc.
Take it from me – you, your sanity, and the rest of your family will thank you for it.
I’m hoping with these suggestions I can save you the frustration of waiting until baby #3 before taking any of this advice. And after three babies who all slept VERY differently from day one, I have a couple tips to help you start getting more sleep NOW.
After all, being a sleep deprived mama makes even the simplest task seem daunting, so any extra sleep you can squeeze in, the better!
For some reason with my first baby I felt like I had to prove to the world that I could do it on my own. Therefore I didn’t take people up on their offers to bring food, stop by so I could sleep, or help out with the housework. This is a real bummer, because I believe it would have made a world of difference!
Accept help from your husband – have him take the older children to a park, the store, or outside to play.
Accept help from others – the mom who offers to pick up your older son from school, the nice lady from church who offers to bring dinner.
So when your mom offers to come by to hold the baby so you can nap – SAY, “YES!” I know it’s hard to extract yourself from your sweet newborn’s sleeping form, but trust me when I say, you will have SO many opportunities to hold your newborn, and most of them come at the hour of 2 AM. So take the help now while you can get it, and quick.
Also, if someone stops by with food, graciously accept it with thanks, especially if you have older children at home. It’s one thing for you or your husband to scrounge for food, it’s another when you’re still trying to healthily feed your other children. And you might not know when your next chance will come to whip up something halfway decent.
I felt like I had won the lottery when my sister offered to cook for me after my third baby. She took a weekend and helped me prepare about two months worth of freezer meals. I was so grateful, I immediately broke into tears at her offer. At that point, I was at my wits end between being horrendously sleep deprived and still trying to keep up with daily life (that does not stop just because I had a newborn). I was so tired of feeding my children frozen pizza or chicken nuggets simply because I did not have the brain capacity or energy to take the time to cook during those first few months. Her offer was such an enormous blessing for our family.
*Tip: for anyone who has a friend or family member with a newborn, specifically one who also has older children, bringing them food can be a wonderful gift idea for that tired family. (Just keep in mind that you shouldn’t expect to stay for dinner. Most new moms are so overwhelmed that might add to their burden instead of ease it. Bringing food = blessing. Staying for dinner = added unnecessary stress.)
Let everything go
Really. Truly. Let. Everything. Go.
I cannot stress this enough.
At LEAST for the first month, preferably two, after baby is home, if it is not essential to your family’s survival, let it go.
Let the housework go, quit trying to diet, and forget about exercising. This is a time where the bare minimum really needs to be all you are thinking about.
How do I know this? From LOTS of experience with trying to do way too much, too soon. Please learn from my poor prior decisions, and just let it allllllllll go.
You are going to need lots of energy for your newborn and for taking care of your other children. So now is not the time to be taking on new projects or worrying about the state of your house.
Remember, it’s only temporary. When you’re back in tip-top form , you can add those things back into your schedule. There will be plenty of time for all the extras later – probably in just a few short months! Enjoy the break while it lasts.
Don’t worry about a “routine”
It’s easy to get caught up in the debate about what your baby “should” be doing, how often they “should” be napping, or how long they “should” be sleeping at night. But guess what? Every baby is different. Every baby is going to have a different definition of normal. And that’s okay.
So for at least the first couple months, ditch the routine. Again, there will be plenty of time to develop a scheduled routine when your baby is older – closer to 4 months old.
And again – deep breath with me now – let it go.
Nap, if possible, when your newborn does
This is one tip that you hear all the time, but I’ve found when you actually DO it is when it makes all the difference. 🙂
By my third baby, I had to. I was so exhausted with so little to offer the world that I knew I had to let it all go (there it is again! You think there’s a common theme here, or something?) and nap when he did. And you know what? It made a drastic impact in not only how I viewed the crazy late nights, but also everything else during the challenging, early newborn days.
Go to bed as soon as your newborn does
This might be another tip you hear all the time, but have never actually put into practice. I’m telling you; go to bed when your newborn does. Just do it!
A better rested mama is going to be able to do so much more for her family than one who’s trying to cram it all into the 2 hours baby sleeps from 7-9pm, before being up until midnight (or later).
So if baby seems to take a nap every night at 7pm, you need to go to bed, too. If need be, have your husband handle dinner and bedtime for the older children, and put yourself to bed right then and there. Because you can’t guarantee baby will sleep for long, right? So you’ve got to get the sleep you can when your new baby allows it.
This is the #1 thing I did that made the most difference after having my third baby. Yes, sometimes it did feel funny to be in bed at 7pm. But when midnight rolled around and my sweet little bundle of joy was up until 3 or 4 am, it didn’t seem quite so silly anymore. It actually made a lot of sense. And I was able to get in 4 solid hours of sleep before that happened!
Any new mom knows that might very well be considered sleeping through the night. 🙂
Because I struggled so much after my second baby, I knew that I had to approach it differently when I had my third son – and it started with how much sleep I was getting.
So I tossed everything out the window, and for the first several months I just went with it. I did every single one of these tips, and you know what? It was the best thing I ever did. For my mental health, my emotional health, and definitely my physical health. Not only did I reap the benefits of gathering more ZZZ’s during the tough newborn stage, but my family most definitely benefited as well.
Doing these things is what made my transition to my third baby so much easier. I believe they can make a world of difference for you, too.
Do you have any tips on how to get more sleep with a newborn? Share them in the comments!
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