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Tips for Getting Sleep With a New Baby

Bringing your new baby home from the hospital means one thing for sure: sleep deprivation. For the first month or two of their lives, your newborn will need to eat every three to four hours or so – meaning that you’ll be getting your fair share of middle-of-the-night wakeup calls. Surviving those initial months with a newborn requires strategic napping, guiltlessly avoiding social engagements and calling for backup when necessary.

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Crib Proximity

Even if you’ve spent weeks decorating baby’s nursery with a special theme, the walk to and from his room can feel entirely too long when you haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a month. To help you work through those early middle-of-the night feedings, the American Academy of Pediatricians recommends that you keep baby’s crib or bassinet in your own bedroom, at least for the first few weeks. To prevent suffocation, no matter how tired you are, never allow your baby to sleep with you in your own bed or with soft, cushy blankets or pillows.

Naps are Necessary

Yes, it can be difficult to ignore piles of dirty laundry in the bedroom and stacks of kitchen dishes in the sink. While you may be tempted to work on household chores while your baby is napping, don’t. The Mayo Clinic recommends that you let sleeping chores lie and instead take advantage of your baby’s nap schedule by sleeping when she sleeps, no matter what time of day it is. To ensure that your nap isn’t uninterrupted, send out a text to let everyone know you’ll be unavailable for the next few hours, then silence your phone. Keep the lights low, turn off the TV and rest.

Double Diaper Duty

As a new mom, you may feel the need to “do it all,” especially if you’re breastfeeding or if your partner has returned to work. However, all work and no rest is a sure-fire recipe for burnout. Talk to your partner about splitting up nighttime feeding and diaper-changing duties. The Mayo Clinic says that if you’re nursing, you can ask your partner to bring the baby to you; if you’re bottle-feeding, take turns feeding the baby. If your partner is at work part of the day, ask if he can relieve you for an hour or two so that you can catch up on a few hours sleep.

RELATED: How to Set Good Sleep Patterns for Your Baby

Call in Backup

If you’re lucky enough to live close to family or friends who have offered to help, take them up on it. If they stop over to visit, ask them if they could watch your baby while you catch up on some shut-eye. Don’t feel guilty about saying no to social engagements, and don’t volunteer for additional responsibilities when you have a newborn at home. If you start to feel depressed or anxious because of lack of sleep, of if you’re having trouble falling asleep, talk to your doctor to rule out any underlying health concerns.

Photo via BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

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