These are our survival tips for parents of newborns. Many new parents are lucky enough to have a perfectly settled newborn that sleeps 20 out of the 24 hour period, goes 4-5 hours without a feed and sleeps in his own bed or bassinet from day one. However, many more parents will experience the opposite – a newborn baby that catnaps for 20 minutes at a time, is unsettled and fussy for long periods of time and refuses to sleep unless upright, on you or lying right next to you. If you are in the latter category, then you are probably about ready to pull out your hair and kick the next new parent that tells you their little angel is ‘sleeping through the night’ already. And, while this may help with the anger and frustration, it won’t help with your situation or sleep deprivation. So here are some tips that will help:
Take a Time Out
Everything is made 1000 times worse when you are sleep deprived and dealing with a crying infant. You may get weepy when the toaster burns your toast or uncontrollably angry when the television remote won’t work. What you need to do is breathe deep and relax. You may also get especially frustrated with your newborn for not doing what you want her to do (sleep!!) It is okay to walk away for a few minutes, gather your thoughts, control your emotions and return to the task. When hubby gets home from work, ask for thirty minutes to yourself. Paint your nails, have a bath or sit outside with a cup of tea. A thirty minute break can restore your mood and prepare you for another long night.
There are people out there that can help including friends, family and neighbours as well as your hubby. Talk to them about helping out. Perhaps a friend could come over and rock your baby for two hours while you lay down. Most people will be happy to have some cuddle time with a newborn infant.
Wear Your Baby
While some books are against ‘cuddling’ or spoiling your newborn, baby wearing is an excellent way to ensure she is getting some sleep and that you can get things done. There are several slings, carriers and baby wearing wraps that can make everyday tasks a lot easier and help your newborn get some rest during the day so she is not completely overtired and overstimulated when night time rolls around.
Practice Self Settling Techniques
Self-settling is not a myth (apparently) and newborns can be taught how to sleep on their own. The key is to put baby is sleep in her cot drowsy, but awake, then pat her, rub her or hush her to sleep. Of course, this doesn’t always work and you may find that you are spending hours trying to self-settle your infant. However, with enough persistence, it can pay off. Start small – aim for one sleep a day and then build up to more day sleeps and then tackle the night time, once you and hubby are both ready.
Ignore the Critics
Everyone is an expert when it comes to dealing with a newborn baby, even people that don’t have children. And, while everyone will want to help and offer advice, it can be more than frustrating (and also sometimes insulting) hearing stories and tips on getting baby to sleep. Listen to their ideas but don’t take everything to heart. Yes, there are ways to self-settle a newborn but these techniques won’t work for every baby and furthermore, some techniques are not right for everyone. So, mold these ideas to your own values and do what feels right for you.