Help! Baby is still waking every few hours and I’m exhausted. What are some ideas to sneak in extra shut-eye?
You’re reading this at 3 a.m., aren’t you? Eventually, baby will sleep longer stretches -- usually around three months -- and may even sleep through the night around six months. “The first couple months, you’re going to be tired. There’s not a whole lot you can do about it,” says Kira Ryan, coauthor of The Dream Sleeper: A Three-Part Plan for Getting Your Baby to Love Sleep. “So be smart about getting sleep.” Try these tactics:
Follow the tried-and-true advice
“Sleep when the baby is sleeping.” You’ve heard it a thousand times, but seriously follow that old-school adage, says Ryan. If you’ve never been a daytime napper in the past, become one.
Feed baby -- and skip everything else
The most important thing right now is that baby gets plenty of feedings. Make that your priority and don’t stress about the dirty dishes in the sink or about waiting on guests (everyone gets it). “I would literally just feed baby and sleep,” says Rae S.
The most important thing is that you and your partner pitch in. Come up with a plan for how you’ll do that. Natalie C. recommends creating “shifts” -- chunks of time when one parent is in charge of getting up with baby, and the other can sleep. “I was pumping every four hours but we were both able to get some uninterrupted sleep, which was very helpful for our mental well-being,” she says.
Call in extra help
Who else can pitch in? Call in a family member or friend or even hire someone, like a night nurse, postpartum doula, maid service or food delivery service. Let them tackle the pile of dirty onesies, the vacuuming or other duties while you get some extra zzzs.
Make nighttime feedings simple
Keep baby in a bassinet by your bed so you’re spending less time wandering the halls and more time snoozing. “My baby woke up like clockwork; 11:45ish and 3:00,” says Ashley K. “I planned for it by going to sleep as soon as she did at night and making sure I already had her bottle and formula by the bed ready to go.”
Create some space
Babies can be pretty loud sleepers -- grunting, moving and cooing. If you’re ready to separate a bit from baby at night, start by putting a partition -- a shoji screen or a curtain maybe -- between the bassinet and your bed, says Ryan.
When you’re ready to move baby into her own room, turn the monitor down to the lowest setting. “A big mistake parents make is putting monitor right next to your head and jacking it all the way -- every little noise will wake you,” says Ryan. “Even if you turn it way down you will hear your baby cry.”