There’s an unfortunate thing that happens when you have kids. Sleep, that thing you always took as a given in your life, suddenly becomes this rare commodity and treat, like Devil’s Food cake or champagne, and you’re wondering how in the world it became optional.
Life gets a whole lot blurrier on less sleep, and the last thing you want to do is be dangerously sleep-deprived while charged with the well-being of a tiny human.
Here you go mamas — real life tips from a mama who’s been in the trenches with a reflux-y nursaholic baby that forced me to try every trick in the book. Try them all, and it’s kind of like buying 10 lottery tickets instead of one, your chances definitely improve.
Plenty of women struggle with breastfeeding, and that’s 100% okay, because it is seriously hard work. That said, there’s just no comparison when it comes to making a bottle at two in the morning versus just latching on. Breastfeed if you can, and save yourself some major hours in the kitchen mixing up bottles.
Contrary to what medical professionals have been touting for years, new evidence is emerging that safe co-sleeping practices may actually reduce the incidence of SIDS, not increase it. You have to be smart, and you can’t be so tired that an earthquake wouldn’t wake you, but safe bedsharing is the ONLY way I got any sleep that first year.
Go for it, night nurse, and sleep like a queen with a tiny foot jammed in her face.
Okay, so not everyone likes to bedshare, and I get that. Eventually, personal space becomes as hot a commodity as sleep, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice one to get the other.
While not all sleep aids are considered safe, there are some, like Arm’s Reach Co-Sleepers, that even allow you to attach them directly to your bed. This means you can snuggle up next to baby, wait til he falls asleep, and then roll away to spoon with your husband — no ninja moves required.
Swaddle Like You’ve Never Swaddled Before
Babies fresh out of the womb aren’t super happy about being outside of their warm, snug ecosystems, so replicate that environment as much as you can with some boss swaddling.
Cotton muslin blankets are beautiful and breathable, but if you’re not crazy about baby origami, try some sleep sacks from Halo instead — like this 100% Organic Cotton HALO® SleepSack® Swaddle!
Use White Noise
For both you and baby, white noise can be a real life saver. For one thing, it keeps you from waking up at every little coo and grunt, but it also keeps baby sleeping more soundly. You can get some that imitates the sound of the womb, but in my experience, the crankiest of kids love the ones that sound like terrifying hairdryer alien spaceships.
Do yourself a favor and get The Happiest Baby On the Block: Soothing White Noise Sleep Sounds — it sounds crazy, but I swear it works.
Keep the Room Cool
Most people sleep in a cool bedroom, so skip the extra heaters unless you get below the 60s range. If you’re worried about things getting too chilly (and your baby sleeps in a separate room), get a baby monitor that allows you set temperature threshold alerts.
Try an Inclined Sleep Position
A lot of times babies wake repeatedly during that first year because of digestive issues. There are a wide range of causes and remedies, but one simple thing you can do is simply incline their sleeping space. Try putting a folded receiving blanket under one side of their mattress to gently incline things a bit (being careful not to create any unsafe gaps).
Don’t Be the Only One Working Nights
When you’re breastfeeding it can be a different story (unless your baby is one that’ll actually take a bottle), but the message here is: if you can take a night off, DO IT.
Babies are very physically dependent on their mothers the first year of their lives, but if you’re completely spent, ask your partner to contribute in any way they can (even if that’s just unclipping your nursing bra for you).
Nap (No Seriously, NAP)
I know, the dishes are piled sky-high and you don’t even want to do tummy time because all of the blankets are filthy, but LEAVE IT.
A sleep deprived mom is never a good one, so lay down with your baby, hire a babysitter, a wet nurse, whatever you need, and find a way to nap to recover some of those lost hours of shuteye.
Make Sleep a Priority
A little sleep deprivation is a normal part of being a parent, but too much can make you ineffective, emotionally unstable, and plain dangerous behind the wheel.
Your baby’s happiness and safety is a priority, so your sleep should be synonymous with that. Parents often forget that mental health is a key part of being an available and supportive parent, so don’t be afraid to ask for what you need to be your very best self for your baby.
Get help when you need it, and get sleep whenever you can.
(Curious to see how much sleep you’ve lost over the years? Try this fun calculator out!)
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