A single copy of this article may be reprinted for personal, noncommercial use only.
New parents: Getting the sleep you needBy Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/healthy-baby/PR00068
Infant and toddler health (24)
- Vaccines: Keep your child's shots on track
- Language development: Speech milestones for babies
- Childhood vaccines: Tough questions, straight answers
- see all in Infant and toddler health
Newborn health (27)
- Baby bath basics: A parent's guide
- Newborn care: 10 tips for stressed-out parents
- Crying baby: What to do when your newborn cries
- see all in Newborn health
Infant health (24)
- Spitting up in babies: What's normal, what's not
- Weaning: Tips for breast-feeding mothers
- Infant formula: Your questions answered
- see all in Infant health
Toddler health (16)
- Temper tantrums in toddlers: How to keep the peace
- Potty training: How to get the job done
- Kids' swimming: Keep health risks at bay
- see all in Toddler health
New parents: Getting the sleep you need
Being a new parent can be exhausting. Try these strategies to fit more sleep into your days and nights.By Mayo Clinic staff
It's 2 a.m. and your newborn is crying. Will you ever get a good night's sleep again?
Although life with a newborn is a round-the-clock adventure, don't lose hope. By age 3 months, many babies can sleep at least five hours at a time. By age 6 months, nighttime stretches of nine to 12 hours are possible. In the meantime, a little creativity can help you sneak in as much sleep as possible.
Suggestions for the weary
While there's no magical formula for getting enough sleep, these strategies can help:
- Sleep when your baby sleeps. Silence your phone, hide the laundry basket and ignore the dishes in the kitchen sink. Calls and chores can wait.
- Set aside social graces. When friends and loved ones visit, don't offer to be the host. Instead, ask if they could watch the baby while you take a nap.
- Don't 'bed share' during sleep. It's OK to bring your baby into your bed for nursing or comforting — but return your baby to the crib or bassinet when you're ready to go back to sleep.
- Split up nighttime duties. Work out a schedule with your partner that allows both of you to rest and care for the baby. If you're breast-feeding, perhaps your partner could bring you the baby and handle nighttime diaper changes. If you're using a bottle, take turns feeding the baby.
- Give watchful waiting a try. Sometimes, middle-of-the-night fussing or crying is simply a sign that your baby is settling down. Unless you suspect that your baby is hungry or uncomfortable, it's OK to wait a few minutes to see what happens.
When sleep becomes a struggle
The rigors of caring for a newborn might leave you so exhausted that you could fall asleep anytime, anywhere — but that's not always the case.
If you have trouble falling asleep, make sure your environment is suited for sleep. Turn off the TV and keep your bedroom cool and dark. Avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol late in the day or at night. In addition, don't agonize over falling asleep. If you're not nodding off within a reasonable amount of time, get up and do something else until you feel sleepy. Then try going back to bed.
If you think you have a sleep problem, consult your health care provider. Identifying and treating any underlying conditions can help you get the rest you need. Remember, taking good care of yourself — including getting adequate sleep — will help you take the best care of your baby.
- Grover G. Sleep: Normal patterns and common disorders. In: Berkowitz CD. Berkowitz's Pediatrics: A Primary Care Approach. 3rd ed. Washington, D.C.: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2008:75.
- Owens JA. Sleep medicine. In: Kliegman RM. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:91.
- Henderson JM, et al. Sleeping through the night: The consolidation of self-regulated sleep across the first year of life. Pediatrics. 2010;126:e1081.
- Kennedy HP, et al. Negotiating sleep: A qualitative study of new mothers. The Journal of Perinatal & Neonatal Nursing. 2007;21:114.
- American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The changing concept of sudden infant death syndrome. Pediatrics. 2005;116:1245.
- Shelov SP, et al. Your child's sleep. In: Shelow SP, et al. Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5. 5th ed. New York, N.Y.: Bantam Books; 2009:837.
- Insomnia. The National Women's Health Information Center. http://www.4woman.gov/faq/insomnia.htm. Accessed May 31, 2011.