Becoming a new parent is an exciting adventure, but it also means lots of late-night feedings and diaper changes. All of this can lead to a big problem—not getting enough sleep. That resulting fatigue can make it hard to function, much less care for an infant. It’s very important for parents to get enough sleep, not just for themselves, but to ensure they’re providing the best care for their new baby.
As a nurse turned doula and founder of Blissful Births, I’ll share how new parents can handle this lack of sleep and find ways to rest more at night.
Establishing a sleep routine
Understanding the ins and outs of your baby’s sleep is an important part of parenthood. Getting into a steady sleep routine can do wonders not just for your baby, but also for you. After all, when your baby sleeps better, so do you!
Why is a consistent sleep routine so important? In some ways, babies are just like us—they find comfort in knowing what’s coming next. A bedtime routine can provide just that. It signals to the baby that it’s time to wind down and get ready for sleep.
This helps to set their body clock and eventually leads to better sleep patterns. So, how can you create a good bedtime routine? Here are some helpful tips.
3 tips for creating a bedtime routine for your baby
- Create a calm and soothing environment: This can mean keeping the lights dim, reducing loud noises, or playing soft lullaby music. The key is to create a peaceful atmosphere that invites sleep.
- Include relaxing activities: A popular one is baby massage. Gently massaging your baby can help them relax and release tension. Plus, it’s a lovely way for you to bond with your little one.
- Reading a bedtime story: Even if your baby can’t understand the words yet, the soothing sound of your voice can be very comforting.
Now, while routines are great, remember that flexibility is also important. There may be nights when the routine just doesn’t work, and that’s OK.
To change up the sleep routine, consider babywearing during nap time.
It has some amazing health benefits for both mama and bub, like increased bonding
Managing nighttime wakings
Are you finding it tough when your little one wakes up a lot at night? You’re not alone. Babies often wake up because they’re hungry, need a diaper change or just want some comfort. Here’s what you can do to make things easier.
3 tips for coping with nighttime wakings
- Offer gentle soothing: When your baby wakes up, try gentle rocking, singing a lullaby, or giving them a warm hug. This can help them feel safe and loved, and they might go back to sleep faster.
- Keep it calm: Keep lights dim and sounds low during the night. This tells your baby it’s not playtime, so they learn to go back to sleep after they’ve been fed or changed.
- Promote self-soothing: Some babies can learn to fall back asleep on their own. Try giving them a small, safe toy to hold, or let them find their own fingers or thumbs to suck on.
Sleep patterns and stages of growth
Babies aren’t like adults—their sleep patterns change a lot as they grow. In the beginning, they sleep a lot but in short bursts. As they get older, they start sleeping for longer stretches but might wake up more during the night. It’s just part of their development
So, what can you do to help both you and your baby sleep better?
How to help baby sleep better
- Understand their sleep: Your baby will go through different sleep stages as they grow. For example, newborns sleep up to 16 to 18 hours a day, but only for 1 to 2 hours at a time. By the time they’re around six months old, most babies start sleeping through the night.
- Adjust your routine: As your baby grows, their sleep habits will change. Try to adjust their sleep routine based on their age and growth. That might mean changing bedtimes or nap times.
Ask for help
I’m sure you’ve heard someone say to you, “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” And admittedly, this is easier said than done.
You don’t have to face this journey alone. Ask for a helping hand from the people around you. With some extra help, you might find you can sneak in a nap or two when your baby dozes off. Laundry, cooking and cleaning are tasks that friends, family, or neighbors could possibly help with. This frees up some time for you to rest while your baby is sleeping.
And if you’re still feeling like this isn’t enough, you can hire a postpartum doula to help soothe your baby back to sleep throughout the night. This gives you and your partner the chance to catch up on some much-needed sleep.
Doulas are trained to understand a baby’s needs and cues so you can rest easy, knowing your little one is taken care of while you sleep.
Try to find what works best for you
Being a new parent is wonderful, but it can also be tiring. The key is to try different things and see what works best for you and your baby. Maybe it’s babywearing, or maybe it’s getting help from a doula.
Remember, it’s important to take care of yourself too. If you’re not getting enough sleep, don’t be afraid to ask for help and be patient (which is easier said than done).
This story is a part of The Motherly Collective contributor network where we showcase the stories, experiences and advice from brands, writers and experts who want to share their perspective with our community. We believe that there is no single story of motherhood, and that every mother’s journey is unique. By amplifying each mother’s experience and offering expert-driven content, we can support, inform and inspire each other on this incredible journey. If you’re interested in contributing to The Motherly Collective please click here.