by Lydia from Sleeps and Bounds (@sleepsandbounds)
Having a newborn is wonderful but it can also feel soul-destroying when it comes to coping with sleep deprivation. These practical baby sleep tips from Lydia at Sleeps & Bounds will help you to navigate the first 3 months and beyond. Lydia is an infant sleep consultant who believes in an intuitive, family-led approach to improving sleep for 0-6 year olds. You can get 20% off of Sleeps & Bounds 3 week packages by quoting ‘Motherhood Edit’.
The first few months of welcoming your little one into the world are amazing and a wonderful time to bond. However, having a newborn can also be relentless, daunting and exhausting. Your baby is here in your arms, helpless and needing all your support, all the time. They will want to be held, carried and fed constantly which can be challenging as a new parent. It’s important to understand normal newborn behaviour and know that you don’t need to ‘fix’ anything. Exhaustion is normal but knowing that doesn’t make coping with sleep deprivation any easier.
We call the first three months of your baby’s life the ‘fourth trimester’ because it can be helpful to think of it as an extension of your pregnancy. Your little one is still gestating; developing and changing rapidly over a short period of time. Your baby will be experiencing new sounds, smells and sensations all the time. Leaning into the fourth trimester helps us to mimic what it was like in the womb, where your baby felt safe and secure. This will make their transition into the world easier and may also help you in coping with sleep deprivation.
7 Baby Sleep Tips: Coping with Sleep Deprivation
- Use white noise
White noise is a really positive sleep tool. The noise itself is calming and the shushing sounds are similar to what your baby heard in the womb. If your baby is finding it hard to calm down they may be over stimulated. Take them into a dark room and switch on the white noise to help soothe them. Playing white noise as your baby sleeps can help to block out other sounds and create a positive association too.
- Let your baby nap in the sling
You are your little one’s safe place. Being near you will help to calm their nervous system. Letting your newborn (and beyond) nap in a baby carrier or sling will allow them to cuddle close and hear your heartbeat. You’ll have two hands free and be able to get on with things, eat or rest. Make sure you’re wearing a sling safely using the T.I.C.K.S rule for babywearing.
- Layer sleep associations
You can introduce calming sleep cues to your baby and help them to associate certain actions with sleep. When feeding or soothing your little one, try rocking, patting, shushing or singing to them. Later on, you can use these sleep associations to help you build a routine for sleep times.
- Know that newborns are not capable of routine yet
Everything that your baby does in the first few months will be inconsistent. They will sleep a lot during the day and wake up more during the night. Sometimes they’ll sleep well, others they really won’t and often there’s no particular ‘reason’, although we desperately look for one.
Babies don’t develop an internal body clock (a circadian rhythm) until after about 8 weeks. At this time, you can gently start to introduce a short bedtime routine. These patterns will help a baby feel secure and they’ll slowly learn to recognise sleep cues.
- Split the responsibilities
When you’re coping with sleep-deprivation, it’s important to let go of any tasks that are non-essential. However some level of household chores will still need to be done, so divide these with your partner. As a new mum, managing the household is not all your responsibility! Equally, neither is caring for the new baby so make sure you’re getting and accepting help.
If accessible, a cleaner, a meal service or help from family and friends can be really beneficial.
- Spend some guilt-free time alone
It’s important to have time to breathe and have some space to yourself in order to be a productive parent. Go for a walk on your own, get a coffee, get your nails done, call your friend for a chat, go and have a bath, take a nap or do something you enjoy. Your baby will be fine without you for half an hour.
- Communicate with your partner
Talk to your partner about how you are feeling. Explain that you are feeling touched out or that it is too much being the one to get up every night to settle your baby. Explain how being a new parent is having an impact on you and give them space to talk too. Together you can agree on practical ways you can support each other in this new, crazy journey!
The fourth trimester is the start of your parenting journey. During this precious time, you’ll start learning about your baby’s temperament, sleep rhythm and patterns, as well as about your parenting style. Remember that however exhausted and overwhelmed you feel, you are not alone. Ask for support from those around you and from your Health Visitor or GP if needed. Coping with sleep deprivation is part and parcel of being a parent but that doesn’t make it any easier at the time.
Lydia is an infant sleep consultant offering online sleep support and baby sleep tips for 0-6 year olds. She understands that every child and sleep journey is different and has different packages to suit different ages and needs, whilst keeping parents’ confidence and child’s wellbeing at the core of her strategy.
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