Sleep tips for new parents

Having a baby is as exciting as it is exhausting. Lack of sleep and the 24/7 demands of parenthood can take their toll on our physical and mental wellbeing. Here’s some tips to help you cope. 

The most important thing you can do for the early days is lower your expectations. Your priority is keeping yourself and your baby happy and healthy. Everything else can wait. If you’re not up and dressed before midday, that’s OK.  

Batch cook  
Seems a strange one to start with but if you’ve got healthy meals to hand, you’ll be able to nourish and energise your tired body with little effort. Try batch cooking in the final weeks of pregnancy and fill up your freezer with pre portioned meals you can defrost at a moment’s notice. Eating well is conducive to a good night’s sleep, whereas filling up on junk isn’t. 

Think about routine  
There’s no pressure to adhere to a rigid routine, you’re just getting to know each other after all. We can, however, start implementing sleep cues for our baby so they start to learn when they happen, it’s time for bed. An enjoyable routine that works for many families is bath-book-bed. Babies run on a 24 hour schedule and that’s normal, if utterly exhausting for us new parents. As they grow and their tummies get larger, they’re able to sleep for longer. So don’t fear, sleep will return to your life, we promise. Try and keep their bedroom between 16-20 degrees for a comfy night’s sleep. 

Share the workload 
It’s tiring on our body and mind nurturing a newborn so it’s vital you accept offers of help when you can. Try not to descend into a game of who’s the most tired with your partner, you’re both trying your best and you’re definitely both tired. Consider turn taking with certain activities like night changes. Play to your strengths, if one of you finds it easy to be up with the lark, then that person does the early morning shift and let’s the other sleep. Accept help from friends and family too. They may be able to mind baby while you sleep, bring you meals or do a few loads of washing, reserving your energy for when you need it. 

It might sound like a strange thing to do at a time when you feel deprived of sleep, but exercise supports sleep. In the early days, a stroll with your baby in a sling or pram is enough. As the months go by, consider upping your exercise to include strength and aerobic exercise too. There’s lots of mum and baby classes on offer and many free workout videos on YouTube that you can do at home. 

Nap when you can 
In the early days, when your baby doesn’t know night from day, consider catching up on much-needed sleep whenever you can. Take naps. Sleep when your baby sleeps. Try to avoid the temptation of whizzing around the house cleaning or doing other jobs, you need rest too. 

Stay positive 
Know that this time is fleeting, it will pass. Uninterrupted, blissful, restful sleep will return. You and your baby will naturally find a sleep pattern that works for you over the coming weeks and months.  

It’s natural to feel overwhelmed by the responsibility that comes with these adorable little sleep thieves. Try to remember to look after yourself: 

  • Eat well 
  • Accept offers of help  
  • Incorporate gentle activity 
  • Nap when you can 
  • Lower expectations, be kind to yourself 

If you feel more down days than up days, or find yourself worrying excessively, don’t be afraid to seek help from your healthcare provider. This parenting job is hard and needing support is OK.