Sleep: Who Needs It?

Most experts agree that as adults we should be getting between six and eight hours of quality shut eye per night. But when you have a new baby in the house, that’s often easier said than done. It goes without saying that babies’ sleep schedules are different than ours, and until your little blessing is at least six months old (and in many cases, quite a bit older), you can’t count on getting your eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.

So, what’s a worn out parent to do? Babies sleep twelve to sixteen hours per day, but usually not for more than four hours at a time until they are three months or older. And much of that sleep is during the daytime. If your little treasure has trouble sleeping at night, you may have to adopt, at least temporarily, the old adage “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”. This is not to say that you shouldn’t try to help your baby sleep at night. Rather, you can’t make a baby go to sleep when she isn’t ready to. You can rock her, feed her, change her, take her for a ride in the car, snuggle her with a favorite blanket, or any number of things, but ultimately, she isn’t going to go to sleep until she’s ready to. That’s just the way it is. And since you also need your rest, you need to take it when you can get it. Even if that means taking daytime naps.

Ideally, you can share the wealth when it comes to dealing with a fussy baby. Let your partner take care of the baby sometimes while mom gets a nap of her own. If you both take turns caring for baby, you can sneak off and catch a cat nap even when baby’s awake. Remind yourself that you need to sleep, too, and life is better for you, your partner and, most importantly, your baby when you’ve had adequate rest. Of course, there are parents who don’t have the luxury of a partner living with them. In these cases, enlist a good friend or relative to come over and watch the baby for a while so you can get some rest. Those who have raised kids of their own will understand, and often those who haven’t yet will be glad for the opportunity.