Monday, May 09, 2005

Getting Sleep with a Newborn

I often joked that I could never have kids because I loved sleep too much. The truth is that I have suffered from insomnia since I was a teenager. The nights that I am fortunate enough to get at least six hours of shut eye is a treat. As selfish as it may sound, I could not image getting less sleep than I already do, and being able to function. Newborns have needs, and these needs do not cease after 11:00 pm. Parents with a newborn baby may discover that it is difficult to find time to sleep. However, there are some practical tips that can help mom's get the needed rest.

Moms that stay home may have it a little easier, if they only have one child at home during the day. Newborns tend to sleep on and off throughout the day, thus many moms are able to get a few minutes of sleep during the day. Of course their cat naps are easily interrupted by the phone or door bell. The best way to remedy this problem is by taping a big sign on the door to inform solicitors or other neighbors that you are enjoying some quiet time. The sign could simple read, "Mother and child sleeping, do not disturb." If you are not expecting guest, leave the sign up all day. Putting the telephone on silent mode will eliminate the ringing disturbing your sleep.

The best time to get sleep is when your baby is sleeping. Understandably this can be difficult. Newborns require a lot of attention. Thus mothers are unable to take care of routine household chores when they are awake. The time when the baby is sleeping is usually the best time to do laundry, fold clothes, pay bills, dishes, etc. Nonetheless, mothers should not feel guilty is they need to rest. Leaving chores for later (or for your husband) will not hurt you. We can better care for our baby's when we are mentally alert. Getting enough rest will alleviate feeling burnt out or frustrated.

Mothers who work outside the home may find caring for a newborn to be especially challenging. These mothers do not have the luxury of taking quick naps during the day. The only time they are able to sleep is during the night. Mothers and fathers should compromise. Mothers primarily care for infants during the night. However, fathers should make an effort to share the workload. The parents could have designated baby duty nights. In other words, one parent will answer the cries, while the other is allowed to get a full nights rest. Interrupted sleep night after night can take a toll on our bodies.

Parents of newborns should not be too proud to ask for assistance. New parents may find it especially challenging. In a matter of hours their lives have changed completely. The change can be difficult, and it may take some time for their bodies to adjust. If family or close friends live nearby, ask them to come over for a few hours and sit with the baby while you sleep. Grandparents, aunts, and uncles are good for offering to watch newborns for a night. Accept their offers. It may be difficult at first, but you will be grateful once you get rest. Mothers who work may also take a few days off, without the baby. Understandably some mothers may feel guilty leaving their infant with the babysitter while they are at home. However this is the perfect opportunity to sleep, take care of household chores, run errands, etc. I am not suggesting that you make this a habit, but doing this occasionally when you need some quiet time does not make you a bad parent.

Some mothers are blessed with babies who sleep throughout the entire night. Those who are not blessed may want to incorporate some quick tips. We all sleep better when relaxed before bedtime. Babies are no different. A couple of hours before bedtime parents should avoid playing excitedly with their babies. This can over stimulate the baby making it difficult for them to calm down and fall asleep. Instead, give the baby a warm bath in calming bath oils.

When dressing the baby for bed, keep the baby warm. Comfort plays a role in infants waking up repeatedly throughout the night. Although you should dress them warmly, avoid putting on too many layers of clothing. Before going to sleep check your baby to see whether he or she is sweating. It may be necessary to remove blankets or socks. Keep the babies room quiet and dark. Babies are more apt to go back to sleep in dark rooms. Some parents have the idea that feeding babies large meals before bedtime will help them sleep longer. In actuality this may make the situation worse. Giving infants large meals or cereal could upset their stomach. Therefore the parents not only lose sleep, but they are awake with a screaming baby all night.

No comments: