Sleep is an essential part of daily life. It affects both your physical and mental health, helping your body and brain function properly. It affects mood, attention span, hormone balance and the immune system.
Saying that new parents can struggle with getting enough sleep is an understatement. Parents have strategized for centuries on how to get restful nights after baby comes home. Of course, there will always be bumps in the road but here are a few tried and tested tips on how to get rest with a newborn to help new parents stay ready for each day.
Try to focus on establishing a regular schedule of feeding, playing and sleeping as soon as possible. Even if the schedule is less than precise at first, soon a pattern will arise. This pattern also helps parents identify possible nap times that can align with baby’s newly formed schedule. Don't try to be too productive when baby naps! Consider sleep a priority over some other household chores that can wait until later.
Have a partner or friend help with nighttime or pre-nap feedings. As the African proverb says: "It takes a village to raise a child." Taking turns with feedings or rotating nighttime feeding duty gives enough relief to keep parents feeling a bit more refreshed. You are also sharing bonding time with others which is good for baby and the loving people in your life.
Develop a routine that can help signal your body and baby's for bed. We have heard some parents follow the three B's to prepare for bed: bath, book and bottle.
Taking a warm bath can help relax baby, letting him/her know that bed is nearing. Try using bath products with soothing scents; you can also add calming bath oils to the bath. Lavender, chamomile and bergamot are some aromas that are known to help induce sleep. Remember to use essential oils a few drops at a time and dilute with a carrier oil like almond or jojoba before adding to bath.
Reading a story or talking to baby may help lull baby to sleep and is also beneficial in helping baby to start recognizing words and find comfort in a parent's voice.
Have a bottle ready/get yourself in position for feeding when bedtime nears. You want to be as comfortable as you can when you are nursing, so make use of pillows and comfy ottomans. Using a rocker can help rock baby to sleep and make it easier for you. Have your book, iPad, or other recreational item by your side along with water and snacks!
Developing a nighttime routine will make baby feel secure and signal him/her to drift off.
Create a soothing space for you and baby to relax into. Even newborns can pick up on the energy in a room. Dim the lights, warm up the room, turn on a lullaby or use white noise. Again, you can use aromatherapy by putting a diffuser in the room. Make the environment as cozy as possible for a good rest.
Part of getting on a regular schedule is creating space for self care and getting alone time as a parent. Head outside to get some sunshine when baby wakes up in the early morning. After a brisk walk and some stimulation, baby might just be ready for a nap. Also remember to stay hydrated; it's just as important as getting sleep. Drinking fluids help flush toxins out of the body and is vital in keeping the body and internal systems functioning properly. To take care of baby, you have to also take care of self.
It's going to take time getting used to a new schedule and a new baby in the family, but you'll create so many amazing memories, the sleepless nights will soon be forgotten. We hope that after reading this article you know how to get alone time as a parent. You can experiment with these and other techniques to get rest with a newborn until you find a routine that works for you and baby. Hopefully then you'll be able to get more shut eye and keep yourself healthy.