Tips for Helping Mom Cope with Baby's Sleep Schedule
A new baby in the family means changes for everyone. One of the biggest changes is in sleep, or rather lack thereof. Even if there are other children and you've gone through the adjustment before, every child is different. Some babies sleep through the night early, others make you wonder if you will ever sleep again.
One of the best pieces of advice given to new moms is: sleep when the baby sleeps. While this may seem simplistic, it really does help. Many moms treat nap times as work times, to get things done. But if you aren't well rested, you won't enjoy time with the baby when it is awake and ready to play.
Some babies are born with a "different clock"; they seem to want to be awake at night and asleep during the day. While still in the womb, babies were rocked to sleep during the day by the mother's movements. Then when mom settled down for the night, the babies think it's time to become more active. So, once the little one arrives, it will take some time to adjust to the new routine.
Even though it may be difficult at first, it is important to remind yourself that eventually things will settle into a normal routine. But what is normal for one family isn't for another. You have to find what works for yours. Start to establish a nap and bedtime routine as soon as you come home from the hospital. It will help the transition, and hopefully the baby will start sleeping regularly for you.
If your baby seems to be a night owl, and you want them to go to sleep at an earlier hour, try adjusting the time a little bit each day. It can also be a help to dim the lights as it gets closer to bedtime. This can help the baby adjust and realize it's time to sleep soon. Turn off the TV and maybe play some gentle music. It will help both of you relax. Once the baby is asleep, spend a little more time pampering yourself before getting some sleep.
Babies get hungry during the night. How you handle night-time feedings can make a difference to how much sleep everyone gets. If you are nursing, keeping the baby's crib in your room, or even co-sleeping, can reduce the amount of time it takes to get back to sleep. If you are bottle-feeding, you can ask your partner to take a turn feeding the baby during the night so that you get a little extra sleep.
All babies take time to begin sleeping through the night and it won't happen overnight. As long as you are consistent in your approach, everyone will soon find they are sleeping better. Remind yourself that you aren't a bad parent if you baby doesn't begin sleeping well right away. It just takes time.
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