Sleep, or lack thereof, can be all-consuming especially in the early weeks and months with a new baby.
People talk so much about it that it can be overwhelming to know what to do and can send you into a panic when you and your baby aren’t getting it. But we also know that anxiety and stress are the last things that are going to help when it comes to getting sleep.
So here’s what the experts want you to know…
1. Let’s stop saying sleep when the baby sleeps
Genevieve Muir, Obstetric Social Worker and Parent Educator – Connected Parenting
Sleep has to be one of the hottest topics of the first year of having a new baby. Parents are going to be thinking a lot about the baby’s sleep – and about their sleep!
I hate it when people say to new mums, sleep when the baby sleeps. Nothing makes me feel worse because I think it adds to the anxiety around sleep. But I think what can be more helpful is supporting new parents to rest.
I love telling new parents just to take any rest they can. Because rest is restorative. So for you that might be watching some Netflix, that might be lying down, doing a meditation or yoga poses or going for a walk on your own.
If you can tap out every now and then, and just know that you are a better parent, for a little bit of rest.
2. Why sleep is so important for our babies
Jaimie Bloch, Child and Family Clinical Psychologist – Mind Movers Psychology
You might be wondering why sleep is so important.
People talk so much about sleep as a new parent, it’s really important to know that sleep is that time that your baby’s brain is developing. The first 12 months is vital in creating the infrastructure for later on in life.
So that’s why babies are doing lots of eating, digesting and resting – the rest period is so important for building synapses and different brain connections. It’s also when they’re encoding all the memories and fun things that they’re doing. It’s not only going to help build your relationship with your child with all their memories, but it’s also going to help them later on in life with all their milestones.
3. Bringing the baby home
Chris Minogue, Registered Mothercraft Nurse – The Nurtured Way
In those early weeks, those first 2-3 weeks the baby will sleep anywhere and everywhere. It’s important that they get sleep as it gives them the energy to be able to feed well. So once they’ve had a feed, wrap, cuddle them and allow them to go to sleep.
Once you get to around three weeks, you’ll notice the baby’s more alert, they move into a feed, alert, and then sleep cycle. At this point, we need to wrap them, cuddle them calmly and quietly put them down in their bed.
Now’s the time to dim the environment. By making a quieter environment you’ll notice that your baby will sleep well because of this. With patience, you’ll notice as the baby matures, the sleep will lengthen at night. Just give this time and you’ll be amazed at what they do.
4. The proper way to get out of bed after having a baby
Lyz Evans, Women’s Health Expert – Women in Focus
Sleep, as you know it is going to completely change after having a baby. Your sleep is now completely entwined with your baby’s sleep which means you are going to be getting in and out of bed more than you ever have before.
So what I want you to do is to remember the way you got in and out of bed during pregnancy. I want you to roll onto your side with your belly, and push up with your hands, instead of actually just hooking yourselves up.
The reason I want you to do that is your tummy muscles in the postpartum period are still sitting really really open and we need to give them time to start to kind of close in. If we hoick ourselves up when the muscles are open, it doesn’t do a great job for the healing of that abdominal separation you’ve likely heard about.
Psst: Another tip is that you’re going to spend so much time settling your baby while leaning over the cot or standing, but don’t forget to think about yourself too. Think about your own posture, think about if you can actually kneel next to the cot or sit next to your cot and that will do wonders for your body.
5. Setting up a safe sleep space
Sarah Hunstead, Paediatric First Aid – CPR Kids
When it comes to sleeping and your newborn, one of the most important things you can do is make sure that the area they are sleeping in is safe. Red Nose has the ultimate guide when it comes to sleep safety for babies.
Some of their tips include making sure that the cot is current to Australian standards, ensuring that the mattress in the cot is firm, clean and fits perfectly around the edges, making sure that there are no gaps. Avoid putting bulky bedding, toys or pillows and also avoid those cot bumpers because they can be a suffocation risk.
And importantly, think about where you’re positioning the cot in the room, make sure that there aren’t any blind or curtain cords or any electrical cords that may actually pose a strangulation risk to your baby.
6. Fighting fatigue when you’re sleep-deprived
Mandy Sacher, Paediatric Nutritionist – Wholesome Child
Sleep deprivation and fatigue are not always just assigned to being a new mama. They can also be signs of low blood sugar levels or skipping meals.
I know when you’ve got a little one at home It’s easy to skip those meals, but I really recommend trying to aim for six small meals throughout the day. This way, your blood sugar levels will remain constant, helping you to fight fatigue and giving you the energy you need to care for your baby at home.
My go-to snack is Greek yoghurt and a tablespoon of oats with a tablespoon of mixed seeds. That way you’re getting a little bit of protein, calcium, and those healthy fats, just to keep you going.
Click through for 6 things the experts want you to know about feeding your baby (in the first year)…
This is a paid partnership between Kiindred x Mustela.