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Babies and Sleep

Babies and SleepSleep as much as you can now because, once the baby comes, you won’t sleep. This is advice that many parents-to-be hear – and promptly ignore. But my husband and I quickly learned just how true it is. Whether your baby is easy going or colicky, hungry all the time or a good eater, you probably won’t get much sleep – at least the first few weeks.

Both of our babies were “good” babies – they ate well, didn’t fuss much – but that doesn’t mean they didn’t keep us awake. As many new parents know, a breastfeeding baby eats very frequently. It seemed like by the time my son finished eating, he was hungry again and the cycle started all over again. There were days when I could literally start and finish reading an entire book in a day while I was nursing the baby.

Formula fed babies generally stay full a little longer, giving new parents just enough time between feedings and diaper changes to actually eat a sandwich or take a shower – but probably not both. On the bright side, anyone can give the baby a bottle – not just sleep-deprived Mom.

And then there are the diaper changes. You can be certain that any baby who is eating around the clock is also wetting many diapers. Diaper changes might not take long, but they’re enough of a disturbance to baby that he or she will probably be wide awake by the time the diaper has been changed … and hungry again!

So what’s a new, sleep-deprived parent to do? Follow another popular piece of advice: sleep when the baby sleeps. While a few minutes of sleep here and there aren’t nearly as restful as a longer stretch, it’s still very much needed sleep. Sleep when you can, whether it’s the middle of the night or the middle of the day. Don’t worry about the housework or the laundry – it’ll still be there when you wake up.

And remember, the newborn stage goes quickly. Just when you begin to accept that you may never sleep through the night again, your baby will suddenly sleep for a longer period – letting everyone finally get some rest.


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