baby - month 1 / caring for your baby / coping with less sleep

Coping with Less Sleep

Getting enough sleep during the first months of your baby's life means adjusting to your own new sleep habits and those of your baby. Here are a few things you can do to help:

Seize every napping moment

Nap whenever possible. Even if it means leaving the house a shambles and the laundry in a pile by the washer, take the opportunity to get a bit of rest. If possible, try to nap when your baby naps. At this point, your sleep really is more important than household chores. Ask your husband, a friend, or a relative to sit with the baby (and your other children) while you grab a few hours of sleep.

Limit entertaining

Sometimes visitors can be more of a hindrance than help, so don't be afraid to limit visitors during the first weeks at home with baby. Put all the important information about the baby on your answering machine, and let the machine handle most callers. Ask potential visitors to call ahead, and be selective about whom you invite over. If possible, choose friends or relatives who won't mind washing a few dishes or sitting with the baby (and your other children) while you take a nap.

Eat wisely

Since you never know when you'll have the opportunity to lie down for a bit, avoid really big meals that may make it difficult to fall asleep. Frequent light, healthy meals will keep your energy levels up without interfering with your ability to sleep.

Cut down the caffeine

An occasional coffee or caffeinated soda may give you that boost you need to stay alert, but if you rely on caffeine to keep you going it may be harder to fall asleep when you actually have the chance.

Exercise early

If you're trying to get back into an exercise routine, schedule your workout in the morning, when it will give you an energy boost. Late afternoon or evening workouts may keep you up.

Keep some breast milk in the freezer

With a reserve supply of expressed breast milk your spouse (or a willing friend) can feed the baby while you rest.

Five ways to care for a light sleeper

If your baby is an irregular sleeper, read on for a few ways you can help baby sleep as well as teach them that night time is sleep time.

Make sure baby's warm enough

Infants' tiny bodies don't conserve heat very well, and a chilly baby will have difficulty falling and staying asleep. Put baby in cozy pyjamas with feet and long sleeves to prevent her from becoming chilled.

Keep the shades down and the house quiet in the evenings

Encourage your baby to think of nighttime as sleep time. If you have other children, this is a good time to talk about playing quietly when baby is sleeping.

At night, keep lights low and noise to a minimum

If you sing or talk to your baby during late feedings, speak in a whisper and sing in low, soothing tones.

Don't rush in at every little sound

A baby's sleep is naturally restless, with many minor awakenings. If left alone, she may lapse back into sleep easily.

Avoid late night diaper changes

Changing a diaper late at night is often just enough to rouse your baby from sleepy to alert. To keep her comfortable and dry without late night changes, use ultra-absorbent disposable diapers (or two cloth diapers) during night time hours.

For more information on this topic, check our Q&A Section. If you don't find the information you're looking for, please feel free to Ask a Dietitian.

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