“You don’t know how much you miss it until it’s gone” has never been truer than with sleep. Every parent who has been up all night with a baby knows that parenthood brings an all new level of exhaustion. No matter how many all-nighters you used to pull in school or with friends, becoming a parent tops all past tired days by a factor of 10.
Sleep deprivation does crazy things to a parent. We surveyed some parents and asked them about their best sleepy stories. Here are a few of our favorites:
- “I opened the microwave to bake a potato and found an old baked potato already there”
- “I put my phone in the fridge when getting a bottle and my husband found it hours later”
- “I fell asleep mid-sentence”
- “I woke up from dreams that my baby was falling and lunged off the bed to catch her”
These stories are funny, and way too relatable, for parents with babies at home. It’s a given that most miss out on some sleep early on. But long-term severe sleep deprivation can have more serious consequences. One study found that mothers with very disrupted sleep were less responsive to their infants. Sleep is necessary to help you be your best parent and more present for your little one.
Here’s a few key tips to help you out if you’re trying to get a little more shut-eye:
1. Ask for Help!
This is such a critical tool in every parent’s life. Being aware of yourself and your limits, and asking for help when you need, it is a huge sign of strength. Make a list of who’s in your circle—your partner, family members, friends with similar aged kids, neighbors, a sitter—and talk to them about needing more support.
If you’re working, take all the parental leave your job will give you. Consider cutting work hours when you come back to leave more time for rest. Arrange a swap with another parent to take turns watching each other’s kiddos while the other naps. Ask a sibling or sitter to come play with your baby in the afternoon while you sleep.
2. Cut Down Your Do-To List
Having a baby forces you to change your lifestyle. We love this quote from Meryl Streep: “Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials.” Embrace this, and set boundaries for yourself to focus on fewer things.
Put down the chore list, set down the basket of laundry or dishes in the sink, and prioritize rest when you need it. When invitations and requests come, it’s okay (and important) to say no! Ask yourself if you’re taking on unnecessary obligations. If you feel a need to give a lengthy apology every time you say no, this might be an indicator that you’re letting guilt drive your schedule.
3. Sleep When the Baby Sleeps
This is a common recommendation from doctors for new parents coming home with an infant. The advice doesn’t go away when your baby reaches a certain month mark! If your little one is down, that’s a great time to catch some Z’s yourself. Nap when your baby does.
That doesn’t mean to only sleep when your baby sleeps—if you can only get brief stretches on your infant’s schedule, be sure to coordinate with a partner to make arrangements for longer consecutive sleep. Learn about the sleep stages of babies so you can anticipate when your baby might start to sleep through the night.
4. Help Your Baby Get Better Sleep
If your baby isn’t sleeping well, you’ll be up much more frequently to help get them back to sleep. Make sure your baby is set up for the best sleep possible. This can include helping your baby get on a regular sleep schedule. Follow a consistent bedtime routine to help them prepare for bed.
Make sure your baby’s sleeping environment is at a comfortable temperature. Help your baby learn to self-soothe to get themselves back to sleep after brief wakeups. The Baby Merlin Sleepsuit is a great tool that can aid your baby’s swaddle transition for better sleep. The Sleepsuit helps muffle a baby’s startle reflex which makes them wake themselves up in their sleep cycle.
You’ve Got This!
Remember that all moments in your baby’s life are phases. We know how hard it is to get good sleep when you’re a new parent. Enjoy your awake time with your baby. Try to take a few steps to get a little more rest, and know that this stage won’t last forever.