Baby sleep is the one thing about having a baby that no one can prepare new parents for. Those first few months are shattering, and I was nervous about going through it a second time with our newborn.
Before writing this I decided to add up the average hours of sleep I’ve had per night over the last few 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 dishes and laundry are largely impractical and will undoubtedly see everything unravel when you realize your kitchen cabinets resemble Mother Hubbard’s or nobody has anything clean to wear. But there are a few key time-saving tips that helped us with our first child and that I’m depending upon now with our second one to steal back a few invaluable hours.
Top 10 tips for saving time, energy and helping you and your baby sleep
- Set up a changing station on your bedside table. Ours has several diapers, wipes, diaper cream, a few changes of clothes, nursing shawl and bibs. We’ve also popped a night-light adaptor on our bedside lamp. All of this helps ensure your baby isn’t stimulated into staying awake by unnecessarily bright lights or movement.
- Babies crave interaction and feeds are a perfect time to do that so they’ll often seek eye contact. But since 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 mimic you, thus encouraging them (and you) to get back to sleep quicker.
- If you wake at the slightest noise from your little bundle (I can almost see your wry smiles as you read this!), take turns on the weekends having a late morning or bring your baby to another room so that your partner can catch a few winks. It might not always work out if the baby wakes for 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 missed!
- Shop online. Our food delivery service saves our shopping list so our favorite items are just a click away. It’s quick and easy, and you can even do it during a night feed. Make sure that you include plenty of easy meals – as a rule, I’m only cooking meals that take a maximum of 15 minutes – and keep stocked up on tea or coffee and snacks for your visitors.
- Keep track of when you feed your baby. There are plenty of apps for this, but I just list them on my phone. It may sound time-consuming, but it will let you estimate when you can steal a few hours’ sleep a couple of times a week. I find the best time is before the nighttime feed. It’s worth it, even though it means missing quality time in the evenings or your favorite series (I record mine to watch when our newborn skips a night feed and I have more energy).
- If you have an older child to take care of and have any help, write down the time when they eat and put it somewhere in plain sight; ours is stuck on the fridge.
- Label the kitchen cabinets, since guests (family or otherwise) may feel shy about rummaging and this will stop 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.
- How is it that such little people can generate such huge amounts of laundry? Investing in bibs and nursing shawls reduces the piles significantly. And since they’re so cheap, indulge and buy yourself enough.
- 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 grab easily. This is especially important if you’ve had a C-section. Minimize your makeup routine to the essentials that will make you feel that bit perkier and, if you don’t have time to wash your hair, use dry shampoo.
- If you have a baby carrier or sling, pop your little one in it while you’re doing chores during the day. They’ll love being close to you, and being upright helps unstick some of those burps (apparently this is also great for establishing feeding routines since it makes more room for milk and encourages more daytime feeding).
I really hope these baby sleep tips help you as much as they’ve helped us, but they’re far from an exhaustive list. So, if you have some of your own, please share them so we can all give them a try.
As an English teacher, it’s probably no surprise that I’ve always wanted to write. Finally finding myself with something to share, I started my blog while in the final trimester with our first (he caught us off-guard by arriving one month early and just in time for Christmas).
Our daughter was born this spring so we’re now full-fledged members of the crazy two-under-two club – there’s 15 months between them! Add an excitable puppy to the mix and life is pretty hectic, but that’s how we like it, I think!