Now that your newborn is here or on the way and you’ve taken on the prestigious title of “Mom,” a full night’s sleep will (unfortunately) be a thing of the past. Though, it’s important to remember that your sleep circumstances will improve as your baby grows, gets older, and transitions through different milestones. In the meantime, here are a few tips and tricks you can use to try to maximize rest during your baby’s first year.
Proper Sleep Hygiene for You And Your Child
While you’re getting used to the change of a new addition to your family, bring some consistency back to your life with a nightly bedtime routine with your child. Experts say that one of the first things to develop in a young child is nighttime sleep. In turn, your child typically sleeps the longest in that first rest of the night.
Once you get into the habit of doing the same relaxing practices before bed, it will signal you and your baby’s body when it’s time to wind down for bed. Here are a few things you can try:
- Change them out of their daytime clothes into cozy pajamas and a fresh diaper.
- Read your child a bedtime story before bed to help relax both of you. Just six minutes of reading before bed can lower stress levels by 68%, and reading aloud to your child at an early age helps promote language development.
- Sing them a lullaby.
- Give them a warm bath.
- Talk in hushed tones with dimmed lighting when bedtime nears.
Get Your Partner Involved
If you have a partner who has taken on a co-parenting role, it’s important to get them involved right away. The days where childcare responsibilities are solely left to the woman are over, so your partner should be tending to the baby while you get a chance to rest.
With that said, it may not be possible for your partner to do everything your body can do to care for your baby. When it comes to breastfeeding, you’ll have to compromise sleep in the initial days if your baby is hungry. However, once you’re able to stock your breastmilk, your partner should step up and give you resting time when your baby disturbs your sleep for a feeding.
Self-Care: You Don’t Have to Sleep When Baby Sleeps
While your newborn is your priority, by no means should your hygiene and mental health fall to the wayside. Whether a co-parent joins you or you’re a single mom, it’s of the utmost importance you practice self-care and when you aren’t tending to your child. If that means you eat a quick bite or a warm shower while your baby naps, do not hesitate.
We know your doctor or nurse at the hospital might’ve told you to sleep when the baby sleeps, but sleep is much more challenging when you’re stressed or hungry for not watching after your health (physical and mental).
Sleep In a Cozy Space
Both you and your child should be sleeping in a comfortable environment to prevent external disturbances to your sleep.
- A cluttered room contributes to stress, which is detrimental to a good night’s sleep. Try to keep your bedroom as organized as possible!
- While your baby sleeps with you in your bedroom, make sure it’s at a proper sleeping temperature. A room that’s too hot or cold can force you and your baby to wake up multiple times during the night because you don’t feel comfortable.
- Block out as much external light as you can using blackout curtains, and unplug any light sources coming from electronic devices in your room. Light disturbs your body’s melatonin production, making it harder for you and your baby to fall asleep.
- Ensure you’re on a comfortable mattress during pregnancy and post-delivery. In our own study, we found that a poor mattress was the second biggest contributor to poor sleep, only second to stress.
More Tips for Single Moms
All moms are super moms, but if you’re taking on both parents’ roles, the job can be even more difficult. Here are some additional tips for single moms who can’t seem to catch a break — a good sleep break, that is.
Once the baby arrives, errands like grocery shopping or going to the mall for clothes become much more complicated. Future you will be thankful if you stock up on the essentials early, and you won’t have to lose sleep about not being properly prepared. During your pregnancy, start stocking up everything you can for both you and your baby.
Of course, if money is tight, you’ll want to stock the essentials first. To ensure you maximize time for rest, we recommend you get a good amount of:
- Diapers and diaper wipes
- Frozen meals and easy-to-make foods, like butter and cheese for mac and cheese
- Tupperware for meal prep so you spend less time cooking and more time resting
- Paper plates and plastic utensils for easy clean-up
- Loose underwear so you can live and sleep comfortably
- Soaps and shampoos
- Ibuprofen, because the worst time to find out your stock is empty is when you really need it
Accept Outside Help
Even if you don’t have a person to take on co-parenting with you, it doesn’t mean the loved ones can’t help you. Lean on your family and friends who offer to watch your baby so that you can fit in a proper nap. Even a 20-minute power nap can help you feel more refreshed.
Don’t Forget To Exercise
Both you and your baby should be regularly fitting in exercise, even if it’s just 20 to 30 minutes a day. For your newborn, this will be as simple as tummy time or putting your baby on their stomach to help promote the development of their neck and shoulder muscles. For you, we encourage a light walk around the block with a stroller. Exercise during the day ensures you’re more tired when nighttime rolls around, not to mention a little fresh air never hurts anybody.