How to get more sleep for mothers – Part 2

Posted by on May 23, 2014

Without trying to fix baby’s sleep, what are things we can do THIS WEEK to get more sleep for Mom?

Here are a bunch of ideas. None of them are perfect. None of them will work for everyone. And I am sure you have tried some of them. Discuss the issue with your partner or c0-parent and see how you could implement one or two of these. I know you will get more sleep. Maybe not absolutely enough, but more

Methods for Mom on her own:
– Don’t get out of bed until you have had 8-9 hours of sleep. If it means you have to stay in bed until noon, so be it. Babies are often happier and sleepier in the morning. Take advantage of this.

– Use a swing to keep baby asleep for a couple of hours so you can have a nap.

– If your baby starts the night with a long stretch of sleep (some babies will sleep 4-5 hours at the beginning of the night) go to bed then. You’ll miss out on the evening, but you can get up and watch TV in the middle of the night instead.

Methods for two parents:
– Stagger sleep. If one parent in a night-owl, let that one take the first part of the night. If one is a lark, let that one take the early morning hours. Here is how it could work:

Dad is a night owl. So Mom feeds the baby well through the early evening, taking advantage of the cluster-feeding many babies do at this time. Around 9 or 10, when the baby falls into a deeper sleep, Dad takes over, swaddles baby or puts baby into a carrier and helps baby stay asleep until midnight or 1am. If baby wakes up hungry before then, Dad can bring baby to Mom for a quick feed (or if baby is more than 6 weeks old, Dad could give baby a bottle of expressed breast milk). Around midnight or 1am, Mom takes over being on-call for baby and Dad goes to bed and sleeps until 6 or 7 am, thus getting 6 or 7 hours in a row – enough to go to work on!

Or Dad is a lark. So Mom stays up with baby in the late evening while Dad goes to bed early. If he goes to bed by 9, he could get up at 4 or 5 after 7 or 8 hours of sleep and take the baby after her early morning feed. Then mom could sleep alone and undisturbed for 3 hours until it’s time for him to go to work. Dad could take the baby out in a carrier for an early morning walk, or have baby in a bouncy chair watching as he takes a shower and makes breakfast. Dad could develop all sorts of great parenting-multi–tasking skills!

Of course, either of these methods could be used by a single parent with a friend or family member who comes over to help.

Method which involves having someone else come to help:

Grandma or Grandpa (or any other adult family member of friend) could come over in the afternoon and hold the baby or take baby out for a walk while mom has a nap. This sort of thing is often done when the baby is very new. But after a few weeks mothers feel that they should be able to do it all on their own, and these arrangements stop. It’s too bad. As the baby becomes older and more aware, it’s a good idea for the baby to learn to trust these dear family members and friends. And mom continues to need sleep!

Weekend plans:

It’s a great idea for Dad to get into the habit of taking the baby out for awhile on his day off. Taking baby for a long walk or a hike, taking baby along to do errands or having baby in a carrier or wrap while Dad does housework or yard work gives Dad a sense of autonomy and independence in taking care of his child. Meanwhile, Mom can have a long nap!

Out-of-the-box thinking:

What if two new mothers set up a nap club? On Tuesday, for example, Josephine could take her baby over to Clarabelle’s house and take care of Clarabelle’s baby as well as her own for two hours while Clarabelle has a nap in her own bed. On Thursday, Josephine goes over to Clarabelle’s and she takes both babies while Josephine has a nap. And after nap-time, they have tea and chats together. Sounds like a way for Moms to get sleep AND company. But it involves trusting each other and being willing to ask for help. (Full disclosure: I don’t know anyone who has done this. But it sounds like SUCH a good idea! Let me know if you do it, ok?)

My point is this: no matter what your plans are to teach your baby how to sleep according to your expectations, it will take along time to teach your baby to do it. You can’t wait until it works to get enough sleep. Figure out how to ask for help so that you can get more sleep THIS WEEK!