Rest up: Tips to Get Sleep with a New Baby
With a new baby in the house, sleep can seem like an unobtainable dream for your family. Rest assured, there is a light at the end of the tunnel: Baby will start sleeping through the night eventually, and you'll get that uninterrupted sleep you so crave. Until then, taking certain steps can help make the process easier.
Help Baby Get Some ZZZs ...
- Know when your baby wants to sleep. That will be pretty frequently in the beginning, so look for the signs. She may start rubbing her eyes or flicking her ears, lose interest in toys and you and grow irritable at the smallest things. Don't wait to put her down to sleep, as this can result in overtiredness and even more trouble getting to sleep.
- Teach your baby the difference between night and day starting at around 2 weeks old. Make it clear that certain activities you engage in, including listening to energetic music and playing with toys, occur during the day. At night, opt for quiet or more soothing music, a darker bedroom and put on PJs to signal that it's time for sleep.
- Start being consistent with bedtime rituals. At around 6 to 8 weeks old, you can begin teaching your baby to fall asleep on her own. Put your baby in the crib while she is still awake, so she won't wake up in the middle of the night, wondering “Where am I?” and look for you to put her back to sleep!
- Wait it out. Don't immediately jump up when baby cries out in the night. Instead, sit back for a few minutes to see if she's just stirring or if she truly is hungry or in need of something else, such as a diaper change.
What You Can Do for Yourself ...
- Ask for help. Take turns with diaper changing and baby care, which can give Mom a much-needed break. Ask for help form friend or family member — even just for a few hours so you can catch up on rest.
- Sleep when baby sleeps. Particularly if your baby isn't sleeping through the night, grab shut-eye when you can find it, or have your partner or family member help out by watching the baby while you snooze. Housework can wait.
- Avoid sharing the bed. Although it can be tempting to have baby sleep with you, you'll be in for a night of restless sleep! In addition, many experts caution that adult beds and their soft mattresses aren't safe for infants. It's fine to have baby nurse in your bed or to provide comfort measures there, but make sure to return your child to her crib or bassinet.
- Set yourself up for sleep success. Skip the caffeinated beverages, nicotine and alcohol once late afternoon rolls around. Make your bedroom quiet and comfortable (70 to 75 degrees and dark) with no electronics such as TVs, computers or tablets to distract you. Get up if you're having trouble sleeping, rather than tossing and turning. Do something quiet till you feel tired enough for sleep, such as reading. Engage in physical activity during the day — this can help you feel better and sleep better, too. Just avoid workouts close to bedtime.
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