Breastfeeding a new baby doesn’t have to mean sleep goes out the window, though it does for lots of mamas. Sleep is one of those things that can vary greatly from baby to baby. There are methods to help baby get into a routine for better sleep, though some babies never take to it. The cry-it-out method is fairly outdated, and most don’t use that method anymore, but choose a gentler, more scheduled approach.
Here at Milk Dust, we believe in helping mamas successfully breastfeed, as well as thrive postpartum. Part of thriving is getting at least some sleep. The beginning days are usually a hot mess with lots of sleepless nights learning to breastfeed, diaper changes and more. But after the first few nights, or week, you can start thinking about a sleep routine and getting more sleep.
The big question is HOW to get more sleep with a breastfeeding baby. Let’s get into our best tips to get more sleep.
Wear baby as much as needed during the day:
Wearing your baby is going to help them get peaceful sleep in the beginning. They are used to hearing your heart beat, and the movement for sleeping. By allowing your baby to nap and sleep as much as needed on you, they are getting as much sleep as they need during the day. This may sound counter intuitive, thinking they won’t be tired at night, but a well rested baby will be less-fussy, and still happy to sleep at night. As your baby gets older, and starts napping in larger chunks a couple times a day, this will change slightly. But as a newborn baby in the first few months, lots of naps on mama are great for better sleep at night. As they get older, around 5 months or so, you can start managing their naps, but until then, let them sleep and grow!
You will be able to transition baby into napping independently as you notice they start sleeping longer. Keep reading for tips to do that!
Try co-sleeping or a co-sleeper:
Babies do not like to be away from mama as a survival mechanism. You can train your baby to sleep in their own room and bed, but if your baby is struggling with sleep, we highly suggest co-sleeping. Especially if you do follow our first tip and wear baby during the day. If you don’t feel comfortable sleeping with baby in your bed, there are many safe, co-sleeping beds which will help tremendously. By having baby in the same room, and near you, they can smell you and hear you breathing. This is soothing to your baby, so they can sleep longer. Also remember, babies sleep various chunks depending on how fast they are growing, genetics and personality. You may only get 3-hour chunks in the beginning. That’s okay, but usually a baby will sleep longer on or near mama.
Start using a noise machine right away:
Using a soft noise machine can train your baby to associate that noise with sleeping near you. This will help when you are ready to transition into a more independent sleeping arrangement (if that’s what you want!). As baby gets bigger, they won’t be as dependent on having mama so close for sleeping, but they can still associate the sound with safety.
Breastfeed on demand – as much as baby needs:
A full baby will sleep longer. Make sure you are allowing your baby to breastfeed as much as they need. Sometimes they just want to nurse for comfort, while other times their body needs the nourishment. Make sure you are allowing your baby to tell you what they need because their body knows! We have an in-depth post on how to tell if your baby is getting enough breast milk, go guide you on your supply and if you need more. Babies will go through growth spurts and changes, so their eating patterns will change too. Roll with what your baby asks for, and make sure you are nourishing your body with lots of nutrient-dense foods, so you can keep up with the changes.
Don’t try to sleep train an infant:
The stress of trying to sleep train a brand-new baby is often times too much. Some newborn babies respond well to a schedule right away, then it all changes as they get older, while other babies never respond to a schedule. Rather than stress over the sleeping issue, try to listen to your baby and work with what they need in the beginning. Most of the time following our first few tips really help with infants sleeping longer. As they get older, they will start showing signs of a sleep pattern for you to follow!
Look for a natural sleep pattern:
As your infant matures and grows, they will start showing signs of a natural sleep pattern. This will give you something to work with, to hopefully set yourself and baby up for success each night. Some babies start napping longer, and around the same time every day earlier than others, so be patient and watch closely. As you are wearing baby in the beginning, you will notice that they start sleeping longer and staying awake longer. This is your cue to think about a place for independent napping. If you know your baby’s favorite time to sleep, you can use that time to transition them into their own space. That most-likely will be in their co-sleeper, because they will be used to that from the evening.
Transition baby to nap independently when they naturally sleep the longest:
It can get exhausting having baby only sleep on you. That’s why as soon as you notice a time of day they like to sleep the longest, you can use that long nap to transition them to nap in their co-sleeper with the noise machine. Start with one nap to transition at a time. Allow for a few weeks to adjust to one nap independently, then work with the other naps and times. Baby might still be sleeping a few times a day in shorter spurts. Which you can transition those times into their nap space too. This will help baby slowly get used to sleeping on their own, but without being a huge, stressful ordeal on mama.
Take as much off your plate as you can:
One way you can manage life with less sleep is to delegate and let go of as many stressful tasks as you can for a short period of time. This is really hard as a mama to do, especially if you have other children and a newborn. Some things you can do are:
- Get disposal plates, bowls and utensils. Skip the dishes for a few months, and get bio-degradable material.
- Make quick and easy smoothies for fast nourishment
- Buy more frozen food that’s easy to heat and serve.
- Have a laundry party with friends and family, or put visitors to work with a new baby. True friends and family are happy to help a new mama get some things done!
- Get your groceries delivered. It actually doesn’t cost much more at all, and saves a lot of stress!
- Have your older children pack their own lunches or buy lunch a few days a week
- Ask your significant other to handle more chores for a while
- Ask moms to help you with carpooling your other children
There are ways to lighten the load if you get creative, and remember to make smoothies for yourself! These smoothies will help you nourish your body quickly, with only one hand, even when life feels overwhelming. Try our free lactation recipe book for inspiration on what to make.