With all the joy and excitement the arrival of a newborn brings it is always a shock to meet the reality of sleepless nights that accompany a new baby. It is often easy to spot new parents by the sleep-deprived glaze that they wear the first few months (sometimes much longer) after bringing their new baby home. While experienced parents may joke about sleep deprivation it really is no laughing matter. While in an ideal world parents(both of them!) would have nothing other to do than care for their new baby the reality of life often means that new baby’s arrival occurs within the demands of jobs, schooling and sometimes the needs of other children in the family. While it may be impossible to totally negate the effects of sleepless nights with a baby here is some tried and true advice on how to get more sleep when you have an infant.
•The old adage is true-sleep when your baby does! This is especially true for the parent who is the main caretaker of the baby. While it may not be possible to get a whole night’s sleep at first you need to focus on getting the sleep you can. While your little one slumbers so should you! While this may mean that someone arrives at your home to find you in pajamas at 11:00 am or 4:00 pm just chalk it up to your new arrival. If you can at least have a few hours of uninterrupted sleep when baby does you will be better prepared to handle the long nighttime awake hours.
•Streamline your life! This is especially important to do in the early months with your baby. Few people are prepared for the disruption of their life once their new baby arrives. Try to focus your priorities on what is really important while you adjust to the new baby and help the new baby adjust to sleeping at night. Figure out what is crucially important to you and let go of the rest for now. This is especially important if Mom will be returning to work shortly after the baby is born. Just remember this time will pass quickly and you will soon be able to add in all those things you should cut out of your life for now.
•Take help wherever you can get it! Don’t be shy about accepting offers of help. If a friend wants to come clean your house or drop off meals for your freezer let them. If your mother or mother-in-law will come and help with the baby while you sleep-let them. Realize that no one expects you to be super mom or super dad. Just remember if offers of help will free up time to help you get more sleep than take them quickly (they won’t always be there) but if the offers are more stress-inducing than helpful then gratefully and kindly turn them down.
•Buy yourself some help! If you can afford it then hire someone to help you. From the afternoon babysitter who can watch the baby while you nap to a live-in nanny, help can be hired. Some Moms and Dads feel uncomfortable about hiring a babysitter while they nap but if you have someone you trust with your infant then go for it-it may just be the best money you ever spent. Just remember to allow the babysitter to be in charge so you can get some rest. If you can hire a live-in nanny to help (especially at night) be sure to check all references or hire a nanny from a reputable agency.