Monday, November 12, 2012

A dude's notes on getting some sleep when newborns are present.

Everyone will tell you that sleep is a huge problem during the first couple months, when your baby is a newborn, but they never really explain the details of WHY.  (Insert obligatory every baby is different phrase.) Today is day 16 for us, and here is what we've experienced in regards to sleep the first couple weeks of our baby's life.

Resting my eyes.  Don't sleep with your baby. Danger.
YES.  Getting decent sleep is not easy.  I mean, I was warned... but I USED to have insomnia and I figured people were exaggerating about the whole lack of sleep thing.  Well the good news is that we do sleep, but it's in small chunks of time.  You see, the baby operates on a high impact NONSTOP 24 hour routine.  The main issue is that every 2-4 hours the baby needs to eat.  That usually includes, eating (30min-1hr) Cleaning poop and pee (10min) Snuggling baby to sleep (15min).  Then there's a bit of cleanup, diapers, bottles, clothes. Before you know it 2 hours has passed and you are into the next cycle of EatPoopCleanSleep.

Consequently one of the better suggestions we got before the baby arrived is to sleep when the baby sleeps.  It's not easy, especially during the day.  And you don't have to sleep EVERY time the baby does.  We find that if we take a nap or two during the day, and sleep whenever possible at night, it's just enough for our brains to continue to function.  (Barely :) )

Here's a couple tips I can think of that helped us out these last couple weeks.

  • Chart their activity and learn their sleep patterns.  Then GAME THE BABY.  We use this document and we put times on everything.   Babies will have a time of day when they are awake and ready to rock your world, usually in very late hours.  We now plan a 1-2 hr nap just BEFORE it's her crazy time.  Cluster feeding is when their bellies become an endless pit, and they need constant tending.
  • Try to sleep when the baby does.  Try not to stay up wondering if they're breathing or not. It's hard to do, we know. 
  • Make sure the baby eats enough. Currently our baby consumes no less than 2 ounces of breast milk. Before we learned that she was never really satisfied and we had MUCH less sleep.
  • Learn to swaddle the baby. It's basically wrapping your baby up like a burrito.  Look it up on YouTube.  Our baby likes her hands free, but her legs covered.
  • If they seem like they're waking up, give it a little bit. Just because they are stirring, it doesn't mean they're waking up. 
  • Probably a good idea to make sure that they are very comfortable, temperature wise, clothing wise. A comfortable, fed, changed, snuggled baby will often sleep or relax.  
  • The first three days were the hardest for us.  It got a little better days 4-14.
  • Have everything you need ready.  A bottle, diapers, wipes, your drink, the remote control, ect. because being more efficient with the routine will get you some more time in the sack.
  • Our baby will be really cranky if we let her sleep too long, as in over 4 hours.  It's tempting to sleep in, and "every baby is different" but currently we will be in a world of hurt if she skips a feeding.
  • Figure out why they are crying, what they need, and what order will put them to sleep best.  Ours current order of operations is...  Always check diaper first > then Diaper Change > Breast Feed > Bottle Feed > Snuggle to contentment > Put in swing or bed-side crib >  Do Chores, Pump Breast Milk, or Take Nap.
  • People often tell me that they switch off with their significant other.  For instance, one will cover while their partner sleeps.  That is another good way to catch some sleep.

So, in summary...  Yes, sleep is a valid concern but if you are clever you will figure out how to get enough to operate.  We are only a couple weeks into the baby-thing, but I hear after the first few months it gets a lot easier.   I may report back and update this document when I learn more.  (And when I sleep more it will also be easier to proof-read.)

1 comment:

Tiffany said...

Excellent tips on sleeping with a newborn!