Lack of sleep is one of the hardest things to get used to as a new parent. Luckily, I am fortunate enough to have a husband who takes turns with me getting up with the little guy. I was also very fortunate that my baby slept through the night at 4 weeks (one of the perks to pushing an 11 pound watermelon out of your tiny vag hole).
I suppose that saying came from the fact that when a baby falls asleep (or at least mine anyway) it would take a dump truck driving through a nitroglycerin plant to wake them up. I could do anything but put an ice cold wipe on my baby's butt and he still wouldn't wake up. And there were times when that was necessary. What a wake up call!
Sleep deprivation is a common cause in feelings of depression and moodiness. Imagine that... Among the other pressures of being a new mom, sleeping for just two hours at a time only adds to those feelings. Here's a great resource for sleep cycles and being a new mom. I'm sure you'll read this with the same "No sh*t!" attitude that I did. Did they really need to do a study to tell us that we are more irritable and not as nice to our families when we're tired? Really?
Here are my little tips to dealing with your sleep deprivation:
- Swaddle! This saved our lives when it came to bed time! We couldn't figure out why the baby would fall asleep and sleep well (through the night) only in his car seat. Turns out, he just wanted the close and secure feeling of being swaddled. The instant we started doing this, he would go right to sleep and not wake up until the morning.
- Get into a routine. One of our biggest downfalls was the lack of any kind of routine. We'd just let him fall asleep whenever. This makes it very difficult for the baby to get used to going to bed and knowing that it's time to sleep. For your sanity and the baby's wellbeing, make a routine for bedtime. A bath, ba ba, then rocking him for a few minutes before putting him into the crib was just enough of a routine for him to get used to the idea that bedtime means sleep time.
- Make sure the last bottle is right before bed. If not, be prepared to get up at 4 a.m. (that is if your baby normally sleeps through).
- Night time feedings are a great time to bond. So for all of those months of 3 a.m. feedings ahead you, just get over it and be happy. This should be routine too. The HARDEST part is trying not to play! My baby would just want to play and be happy, but 3 a.m. was not play time. I'd get him up, change his diaper, give him his bottle and rock him. Even when he wanted to play. I had to resist!
- Take turns with your partner. If you're married or living with a great supporter (boyfriend, mom, friend, whatever) try taking turns everyother night when your little one wants to eat. This will allow you to at least try to get a full nights' sleep. It's hard to get used to at first. You'll hear his cry and want to see what's wrong and comfort him. But once you get used to it, you'll appreciate every minute of sleep you can get!
These tips are just from an experienced mom. So please don't think I'm Dr. Mom Health PhD. Use these as friendly advice. If something doesn't work for your baby, try something new. What I've learned about parenting thus far is that it's all trial and error...