Monday 23 October 2017

Sleep: How to Get More of it With a Newborn

The lack of sleep is the one thing about having a baby that no one can prepare you for. Those first few months are shattering and I was nervous about going through it a second time.
Before writing this I totted up the average hours of sleep I had per night in the early weeks. It’s not particularly encouraging and left me wondering whether I’m actually qualified to write this post! Still, if nothing else then, hopefully, you’ll feel less alone!
All the advice you’ll be given about taking naps during the day or ignoring the mounting piles of washing up and laundry are, largely, impractical and will undoubtedly result in everything unravelling when you realise your kitchen cupboards resemble Mother Hubbard’s or nobody has anything clean to wear, but there are a few key time-saving tips that saw us through with our first and I knew I'd depend upon with no.2. to steal back a few invaluable hours.

Save Time, Rest More

1. Set up a changing station on your bedside table. Ours has several nappies, wipes, nappy cream, a few changes of clothes, muslins and bibs. We also popped a night-light adaptor on to the bulb of our bedside lamp. All of this helps ensure your baby isn’t stimulated into staying awake by unnecessarily bright lights or movement.

2. Babies crave interaction and feeds are a perfect time to do that so they’ll often seek eye contact, but as they have no body clock you’ll need to help them distinguish between interactive day feeds and sleepy night feeds. So, try feeding with your eyes shut at night. Your baby will eventually mimick you, thus encouraging them (and you) to get back to sleep quicker.
3. If you wake at the slightest noise from your bubba (I can almost see your wry smiles as you read this!), take it in turns to have a lie-in; taking them to another room at the weekends can give you the peace of mind to nap. It might not always work out if the baby wants an unexpected feed, but that’s where tip no.2 comes in handy. Besides, at this stage, even a 10 minute nap isn’t to be sniffed at!
4. Shop online. Our supermarket shop is saved so that I only have to pick from our favourites and did that during a night feed with ease. Make sure that you include plenty of easy meals – as a rule, I only cooked meals that took a maximum of 15 minutes – and keep stocked up on tea/coffee and snacks for your visitors.
5. Keep a list of your baby’s feeds. There are plenty of apps if you’d rather - I tried a number of free ones and my favourite was baby feeding log due to it's simplicity - but I'm also a fan of just listing them on my phone. It may sound time-consuming, but it will allow you to begin to understand routines and patterns so you can estimate when you can steal a few hours sleep several times a week. I found the best time was before the dream-feed. It’s worth it, even though it meant missing quality time together in the evenings, or your favourite programme (I recorded mine to watch when our newborn dropped a night feed and I had more energy) and it's only for a short while before your baby begins to sleep for longer.

6. If you have an older child to look after and have any help, write up their feeds/routines and pop it somewhere in plain sight (our was stuck on the fridge).
7. Label the kitchen cupboards as guests (family or otherwise) may feel shy about rummaging and this will prevent you having to point everything out, allowing them to feel at ease making cups of tea while you put your feet up for a few minutes. It might seem excessive, but a few post-it notes can make all the difference, especially as your visitors will want to be of some help rather than causing you extra work.
8. Despite being such little people, newborns seem to double your laundry! Investing in bibs and muslins reduces it significantly and, as you can purchase them cheaply, I go by the adage that you're better of having too many rather than too few.
9.  Even getting washed and dressed in the mornings takes up valuable time, so streamline your wardrobe to a few key, comfortable items that you can easily grab. This is especially key if you've had a C-section. Minimise your make-up routine to the essentials that will make you feel that bit perkier (even a few drops of gradual tanner in your face moisturiser can be enough to fake the glow of someone who's had a good night's sleep!) and, if you don't have time to wash your hair, use dry shampoo. Having said that, you'll be surprised at what babies can sleep through: I dried my hair with our first dosing beside me and the white noise was such a winner that I did it again with our second (it's the same with the hoover, washing machine, dishwasher...). Whatever it is you do, it's definitely worth doing something as it will lift your spirits and you'll feel secretly chuffed that you, at least, look ready to tackle the day ahead.
10. If you have a baby carrier/sling, pop your little one in it while you're doing chores. They'll love feeling so close to you and being upright helps wind them (apparently, this is also great for establishing feeding routines as a well-winded baby has more room for milk thus encouraging daytime feeds and reducing night ones when they're ready).

I really hope these tips help you as much as they helped us, but they're far from an exhaustive list. So, if you have some tips of your own, please share them so we can all give them a go.

1 comment

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