Try these tricks to catch some ZZZs while caring for a newborn solo
“Say goodbye to sleep!”
You’ve probably heard it dozens of times since sharing the news of your pregnancy. It’s true enough that all mothers—not just the solo ones—have to grapple with some sleep deprivation; that just comes with the territory. But if you’re proactive and strategic, there’s plenty you can do to sneak in sleep while caring for your newborn on your own.
Drop everything and nap
Napping when you have a newborn is not a luxury, it’s an absolute necessity. You’d be amazed at what even a short nap can do to restore your feeling of well-being (and sanity). Newborns sleep all the time, so you’ll have plenty of chances to sneak in a nap yourself—as long as you are sure to drop everything else. That means laundry, dishes, emails, even guests. They came for the baby, anyway, so put them to good use and have them keep an eye on the little one when you spend some time with the Sandman.
Find some sleepover buddies
Getting a family member or a close friend to take over a nighttime shift not only wins you extra sleep, it affords you the adult company that you’ll probably be craving. Just pump and have them bottle-feed the baby for one feeding so you can rack up five or six straight hours. Some folks will be happy to stay for a few days at a time and some can only handle one night every so often, but chances are, friends and family will be happy to help at night—after all, they can go home and catch up on sleep the next night.
Experiment with sleeping surfaces for baby
Babies can be finicky and each one has unique preferences, which means you need a lot of tricks up your sleeve. Some newborns love sleeping in rocking cradles, some in the bouncy seat, some only want to be in the bassinet. Don’t get discouraged if the first option doesn’t work, just move on to the next one. (Use hand-me-downs or used goods to keep costs low!)
Use all the soothing aids you can
Pacifiers, swaddling, vibrating seats, infant swings—stay open to all of it, because you never know what will be the key that unlocks the amazing chamber of slumber. Make a commitment to yourself right from the get-go to stay flexible and guilt-free; the newborn months are a time when we all have to make it by hook or by crook.
Wait before you respond to your baby
When baby calls, you come; that’s just instinct. But sometimes, your newborn isn’t hungry or hurting, and he or she will settle right back to sleep after a little moaning. So be optimistic and give your newborn a minute before you rush to the rescue in the middle of the night.
Remind yourself this, too, shall pass
All babies learn how to sleep through the night eventually—and the truly tough part of the sleeplessness only last a few weeks. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not very long. Before you know it, you’ll be looking back at this crazy, wonderful, exhausting time and smiling about it.
Image via Shutterstock.com
Nicole C. Kear, is the author of Now I See You: A Memoir, recently published by St. Martin’s Press. Kear, who lives in New York City, is also an editor, speaker, and mother of three.
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