New parent? 6 tips on how to get sleep with a newborn. This post is brought to you by our featured guest blogger Louise Roe, author and founder of Front Roe.
Our daughter Honor is just over 2 months old now, and it’s been the best 2 months of my life. Being a mummy is my favorite job to date! But just as with any job, there are pros and cons. The obvious pros? Getting to spend every day with our precious little one, seeing her grow and develop more of a personality by each day. One of the major cons of being a new parent is, of course – the drastic change in sleep.
Now that we’re a few weeks in, Honor is finally starting to sleep longer and longer stretches during the night. She is only waking once now most nights, around 2am, and then sleeping until her breakfast feed at 7am. While we’re far from being seasoned parents by any means, we have figured out some tricks and tips to make nights with a newborn more restful and less stressful. Today I’m sharing with you my tips on how to get sleep with a newborn – not only is it important, but it’s actually possible!
Have you ever been drifting off to sleep, and jolted awake because it felt like you were falling? Just like us, newborns have this same ‘startle’ reflex, especially during the first few months. Keeping a tight swaddle as they sleep prevents these jerky movements from startling them awake – which in turn allows you to sleep longer, if baby isn’t waking up unnecessarily. I was utterly awful at swaddling, Honor just broke free every time! So we found a zip-up sleepsuit to be really helpful.
The ‘dreamfeed’ is the feeding that you give baby right before mum and dad go to sleep, where the baby doesn’t fully wake up. The idea is they feed while they dream, which helps them stay drowsy and go right back into a deep sleep. There’s nothing worse than drifting off to sleep only to be woken up by baby a few moments later. The dreamfeed can help you get a slightly longer stretch of sleep in before baby wakes up for another feed, and I do it around 10pm in my PJ’s, in bed, with the lights off and no sounds.
Limit the length of naps during the day
To help baby sleep more soundly through the night, try to have their total nap time be around 3 hours during the day. Of course, use your own discretion, as sometimes babies may need longer naps to recover from an active day. However, breaking up their sleep more often during the day may encourage longer stretches when you yourself are sleeping. We have also learned the hard way, that she shouldn’t nap right up until her dinner time, at 6.30pm. Instead, we keep her awake and play with her calmly from around 4:30pm onwards, so she’s sleepy and ready for bed a couple of hours later.
Sleep when baby sleeps
When Honor is napping, I often feel like this is my only time to get things done around the house. However, I’ve learned that this can be the best time to catch up on a little sleep myself. Napping when baby naps can be a complete lifesaver when you’re feeling sleep deprived, especially during those first few weeks. You may have to sacrifice doing that extra load of laundry, but you’ll thank yourself later if you’re feeling more rested. Don’t forget to take care of yourself too!
Stock up on Organic Gripe Water
Honor gets gassy tummy aches which often stop her from sleeping, and a wonderful nanny told us about a great natural, organic gripe water. It immediately dissipates the bubbles of gas and calms her down, ready for sleep. Also, don’t be afraid to use a pacifier. It’s a personal choice of course, but many people say they’re a bad habit and will make it harder for the baby to latch on when they breastfeed. But for us, it didn’t affect her ability to breastfeed, and we use the pacifier sparingly to soothe her back to sleep. After a few minutes, she drops it out of her mouth and we take it away.
Invest in your own sleep environment
I’ve written a lot about how important it is to have a serene bedroom and relaxing bedtime routine for drifting off to sleep. While your bedtime routine pretty much goes out the window when you have a newborn, there are still things you can do to create an environment for yourself which is conducive to healthy sleep. One of the biggest factors that has helped Mackenzie and I, is our Sleep Number bed.
I’ve written before how helpful it was for me in getting comfortable during my pregnancy, and now that sleep is even more elusive with a newborn, it helps us make the most of the time we do have to catch some zzz’s. We’re both able to set our own preferences for firmness level, which makes it so comfortable that we’re able to fall asleep nearly as soon as our heads hit the pillow. And, this function has become very useful with achy backs from carrying the baby all day long. Mackenzie adjusted his last night after his back was hurting – and it really helped.
In addition, I put the headboard up when it’s time to feed Honor in the night, so I can sit up and then place her back in her bassinet, which is level with my mattress and right next to me. It’s an investment that has paid for itself ten times over since we got it. Other things like sleep masks, lavender essential oils, and keeping your bedroom temperature on the cooler side, has also enabled us to get more sleep.
This post was brought to you by Sleep Number. All thoughts and opinions, as always, are my own.
Quality sleep will keep you performing your best. Like diet and exercise, sleep is essential for optimal health and performance. Because everyone's sleep needs are different, Sleep Number beds adjust to your ideal level of firmness, comfort and support, and have a 25-year limited warranty.* Find your Sleep Number® setting for your best possible night's sleep.
*2-Year Limited Warranty on SleepIQ® technology. Warranties available at sleepnumber.com.