Newborns need a lot of sleep, but rarely does it seem like they are ever actually sleeping. Ask any parent and they will tell you that they spend far more time trying to put baby down to rest than the amount of time baby remains asleep! It’s a tale most parents are all too familiar with: the 3 am feedings, followed by hours of tossing and turning, and then, before they have a moment to shut their eyes, the next feeding. Welcome to the 3am Club.
“Sleepless nights are difficult whether it’s your first child or you’ve been around the baby block a few times before,” says Natalie Willes, expert baby sleep trainer. “It’s fundamentally important for both the parent and child to get adequate rest, yet this is often easier said than done. Fortunately, there are methods to help you succeed.”
Willes recommends NUK’s 3am Club as a useful resource for parents seeking support on how to manage restless nights. Whether parents need help soothing baby or are looking for advice on how to maximize their sleep, the site offers free tools and on-the-spot tips from experts to help newborns and parents get some much needed shut eye, including:
Embrace sleep routines
Having a solid sleep routine for baby can set the stage for a better night’s rest. Participating in relaxing activities before bedtime such as a gentle bath, infant massage, soft music, calm reading and a quiet feeding in a dimly lit room, can help calm parents’ minds and soothe little ones to sleep. Just remember consistency counts, so try to stick to the same order and time for baby’s routine each day. It’s also important for parents to set their own nighttime routine that helps them unwind and relax before bed, like taking a warm bath, reading or participating in a short meditation.
Keep baby close
Contrary to popular beliefs, having baby sleep in a separate room doesn’t actually help you get better sleep. In fact, many experts recommend sleeping in the same room as your baby until they are at least six months of age. This brings comfort and peace of mind to both the baby and parent, encouraging a deeper sleep for everyone. Plus, when baby wakes up, parents won’t need to run across the hall. Instead, they can simply tend to baby’s needs and then transition right back to sleep.
Quiet the mind
New parent worries compounded with sleep deprivation can make it very difficult to quiet the mind and get deep, restorative sleep. When anxiety sets in or the mind starts to race, experts recommend tuning into your breathing with guided exercises and meditations, or listening to soothing music, or adult sleep stories. Through NUK’s partnership with the Breethe Meditation app, parents have free access to these resources and more, helping them calm their minds so they can get restful sleep.
Most times, parents are so in-tune with their infant’s nutrition that they unknowingly neglect their own. Not getting the right kind, or amount, of nutrition can greatly impact not only how parents wake up feeling, but also how well they sleep at night. To help sustain energy and beat fatigue, parents should avoid eating carb-heavy meals throughout the day and instead fill their plates with energy-sustaining foods such as eggs, yogurt, oatmeal, apples and nuts. A morning caffeine boost can also help, but stick to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation of less than three cups of coffee a day while breastfeeding.
A positive outlook is so important during challenging times and that comes with giving yourself some grace. Understand that some days are going to be easier than others and the same is true for your infant. Reach out for help if needed, whether that be to a partner, friend or family member, and communicate any concerns you have with your doctor and baby’s pediatrician. No two babies are alike, so it is important to practice new methods when you hit hurdles and know that a good night’s rest is within reach.