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Are you searching for new baby sleep hacks to help you get better sleep with your newborn?
Does your newborn wake to eat every 2-3 hours?
Are you a sleep-deprived new parent?
Look no further. Sleep help is here!
But, before I promise you the moon… you must realize that newborns don’t sleep very long. Period.
So, this post is NOT going to teach you how to get your newborn to sleep through the night!
That doesn’t happen with newborns. Well, at least not very often. And for good reason…. newborns NEED to eat often!
HOWEVER…. there ARE things that new parents CAN do to optimize their sleep!
Even though your tiny newborn is waking often to eat, you CAN devise a sleep plan to help you, as parents, get the sleep you so desperately need!
So, how can new parents optimize their sleep and feel more rested even though they need to feed their newborn every 2-3 hours?
The answer is… be strategic!
Free Printable Included!
New Parent Sleep Hacks that Really Work!
One of the greatest challenges, hands-down, that new parents face is lack of sleep.
This is especially true if you have a fussy baby.
Here are my new parent sleep hacks to the rescue!
Because newborns need to eat every 2-3 hours during the early weeks, it seems almost impossible for new parents, especially mothers, to get the sleep they so desperately need.
I’m here to tell you, however, that it can be done!
But first, I need to make one thing perfectly clear: NEWBORNS DON’T SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT! Nor should they!
In fact, a newborn that sleeps too long, could signal something seriously wrong.
If your newborn baby wakes to eat every 2-3 hours, be happy that you have a normal, healthy baby!
When will my baby sleep through the night?
“Does your baby sleep through the night yet?”
Ugh! Oh, how I HATE that question!
Unfortunately, you will probably hear it a lot.
As a doula, nothing causes me to go into a rant as this question does!
First of all, newborns aren’t supposed to sleep through the night.
Their tiny stomachs don’t hold that much milk and they need to eat often.
They are hardwired to wake every 2-3 hours to eat. Their brains are developing and growing at a very rapid pace and they need constant nourishing.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
As moms, when we hear that question, we start to resent that our babies wake often to eat, especially at night.
We begin to wonder if anything is wrong with our baby.
Why won’t my baby sleep better?
Am I doing anything wrong?
Is there something wrong with my baby?
Is there something wrong with me?
Don’t let this happen!
It only robs you of the joy of this newborn season.
Okay…. here’s the doula lecture now….
Your baby will only be a newborn for a few shorts weeks.
True, you are exhausted, and even though it may seem like an eternity now, this season will pass quickly. Trust me.
Instead, try to accept that this is only temporary and try to adapt to your current situation.
For example, you may need to readjust your expectations.
Are you trying to take on too much?
Instead, focus on these two things right now…
1) Taking care of baby and
2) Taking care of yourself!
Getting good sleep needs to be one of your main priorities!
You simply cannot be healthy and heal without sufficient sleep.
A well-functioning immune system depends on good sleep. So does your milk supply, if you are nursing.
Fatigue also puts you at greater risk for postpartum mood disorders.
Take care to get the sleep your body needs. Everything else you do to be healthy can quickly be sabotaged if you are sleep-deprived.
Sleep Hacks #1 – Adjust Your Expectations
As I said before, this is a very temporary season.
It is vital that you try to adapt to your current situation and learn to let things go!
There are no household tasks that are more important than your health and recovery.
If you are a control freak (like I was) then make sure that you plan enough help when creating your postpartum plan.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you will just “wing it” or that people will magically appear out of the woodwork to help you out. You could be setting yourself up for major disappointment!
Try to delegate household tasks such as laundry and meals.
This means you will need to reach out for help. If there is nobody around to help you, try to let those things go.
Give yourself permission to rest during the day and let the dishes (and emails) pile up, if necessary.
Since you are waking for night feedings, you will need to get the extra zzzz’s during the day.
When people come over to visit, they will (hopefully) notice your pile of dishes and offer to lend a hand in the kitchen!
If not, learn to ask for help.
Only accept visitors who are willing to pitch in!
Speaking of visitors… feel free to share this post with your potential guests when they ask to come see the baby!
These 25 Rules for Visiting a Newborn can be eye-openers for some and oh, so helpful for you!!
Sleep Hacks #2- “The Go-Back-to-Sleep Trick”
Here is a sleep tip for you…. what was your pre-pregnancy sleep requirement? 8 hours? 9 hours?
Whatever that ideal sleep quota was, make that your sleep goal now.
You may need to adjust that time to get a bit more sleep during this time of healing, but your pre-pregnancy sleep quota is a great place to start.
As you wake to feed your baby during the night, keep track of how many total hours you have slept so far.
Keep going back to bed in the morning, until you have reached that sleep goal.
It may take until noon before you get enough sleep, but that’s OK!
Once you have reached your sleep goal for the night, shower and get ready for your day.
If you have other children who need care in the early morning hours, this is a great time to hire a sitter or ask grandma to come and hang out with the kiddos while you get more sleep.
This is something you can add to your postpartum plan too.
Read my post on how to create your postpartum plan.
Sleep Hacks #3- Shift Sleeping
Here’s another great sleep tip… try taking shifts!
Ask Dad (or anyone willing to help) to take one of the late night feedings so you can get a longer stretch of sleep. (You can usually find someone who is a night owl who would be willing to help you out here.)
If you are breastfeeding, pump enough for one feeding during the day, then after the evening feeding, go to bed early. (If you are a night owl and Dad isn’t, the reverse will also work.)
For example, let’s say that your baby nurses around 8pm. After this feeding, you would head to bed around 9pm or so.
Dad would be “on duty” for the next several hours soothing the baby if needed. He would also offer the next feeding around 11pm.
Meanwhile, you will get a good chunk of sleep and wake to feed the baby again at the next feeding around 2am.
This scenario would allow you to sleep from 9pm until 2am. That’s 5 hours!
Some moms worry that this would negatively affect their milk supply to go this long without nursing or pumping, but it is my personal belief that lack of sleep is more detrimental to milk supply than missing a feeding.
If your body wakes you early to pump or nurse, at least you won’t feel as groggy!
When Dad goes to bed around midnight, he will get a chance to get his chunk of sleep next.
Feel free to adjust this system to meet your needs, but many parents find this a sanity-saving tip!
Combining these hacks together will help assure that both mom and dad get the rest they need!
Sleep Hacks #4 – Co-Sleeping
If you find that no matter what you do, sleep still alludes you, then consider co-sleeping.
Co-sleeping isn’t for everyone!
Some women find the thought of co-sleeping to be too anxiety-producing. If this is you, then don’t give it another thought.
But if you find that you are already bringing your baby into your bed at night or napping with your baby in order to get rest, then take the time to educate yourself about safe sleep practices.
After much difficulty managing our sleep with our first baby, my husband and I eventually began the practice of co-sleeping.
It was so nice for me to just snuggle and nurse without having to get out of bed.
We all slept so much better and I actually woke up feeling like a real person!
This decision was one of the best decisions we personally made to help solve our postpartum sleep problems.
We began co-sleeping after the recommendation of a good friend.
This sleep solution worked with all five of our newborns until we transitioned them to their cribs once I was feeling better.
There are many variations to co-sleeping, so you can easily modify and adapt to suit your needs.
If you don’t feel comfortable having the baby right next to you in bed, there are also great co-sleepers you can buy that provide your baby with her own sleep space nearby.
Check out one of these great co-sleepers here!
My favorite book on the subject of infant sleep, including co-sleeping, is a fantastic book by Dr. Sears called The Baby Sleep Book.
I highly recommend it! The authors discuss the many benefits of co-sleeping along with practical and safe sleep tips to ensure a safe, restful night’s sleep for everyone.
If co-sleeping interests you, then take the time to read up on the pros and cons before you take the plunge.
This is a controversial subject that can often stir up strong opinions. Whatever you decide about sleeping, remember, it needs to be YOUR decision and you need to feel comfortable with that decision.
That being said, the American Academy of Pediatrics DOES recommend that babies sleep in the same room with mom (however, not the same bed) to lower the risk of SIDS.
If you choose to bed-share with your baby, it needs to be a decision that you feel good about.
You can read the American Academy of Pediatrics’ official Infant Sleep Safety guidelines for more information.
Some of my favorite books on infant sleep:
This is a great little co-sleeper bed for the money that can also be used as a portable bassinet for travel.
30 Easy Sleep Hacks for New Parents
Was this post helpful?
I have even MORE sleep hacks for new parents and newborns in my new book, 30 Sleep Hacks for New Parents: A Sleep Survival Guide for Parents of Newborns.
You can download a copy here.
This is NOT your average book on baby sleep, but an easy step-by-step, hands-on survival guide for new parents!
I teach new parents strategies to maximize their sleep during the postpartum period.
I have compiled all my favorite doula tips and sleep hacks into a very practical and useful book on sleep for new parents.
This quick read is a very affordable eBook that will be a game changer for your family!
Helping Babies Sleep Better!
While it’s true that newborns need to wake every 2-3 hours to eat, as babies grow, their night feeding needs generally change.
This can be when it gets really challenging.
You may have an older baby that continues to wake often at night. This can be extremely frustrating!
Each baby has his own unique needs and some seem more needy than others.
What if you have an older baby who wakes often at night?
How can you help your older baby sleep better?
Perhaps you are making these common new parent sleep mistakes? Learn great tips for fixing those mistakes and helping your baby sleep better.
Professional Sleep Coaching Help!
You may decide that you need some extra help in this department.
I have found you a great resource for helping your 6 month+ baby sleep better!
If you and your baby have fallen into some bad sleep habits, consider getting help from a sleep expert!
Kim West is a baby and child sleep expert.
You may be familiar with her book, The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight, a sleep-coaching book for parents.
Kim has also produced a great online support program for parents. This program gives you the tools necessary to help your baby go to sleep on their own and sleep better!
I love this program because it uses gentle methods to help transition your baby to sleeping on his own.
**This is not a “cry it out” program, but rather an approach that uses behavior modification techniques to gradually teach your baby to self-sooth, fall asleep and stay asleep!
Check out this online program here.
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“4 New Mom Sleep Hacks that Really Work!”
I’d love to hear from you? What are your favorite sleep tips or new parent sleep hacks?