Sleep Deprivation With a New Baby

How can I deal with the effects of sleep deprivation that come with a newborn? Our little girl has been home for two weeks, and already my job performance is suffering. My wife and I take turns getting up with her in the night, but unlike my wife, I can't go back to sleep again once I'm up – not until about 10:30 the next morning when I'm sitting at my desk. What can I do?

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Hang in there! Sleep deprivation just goes with the territory when you have a newborn. The good news is that this phase usually only lasts about three months. Three months may sound like an eternity, but trust us: This too will pass, and life will eventually slip into a normal routine. In the meantime, you can be proactive.

Ask for help.

  • See your pediatrician to make sure everything is OK (a colicky baby may need longer than that three-month time frame).
  • Talk with your parents or other older adults who’ve covered this ground before and can provide practical hints on surviving your child’s infancy.
  • Get a few good books on the subject – for example, Focus on the Family’s Complete Book of Baby & Child Careand study up on child development. Things change quickly during the first few months of life, and it’s important to know exactly how you should respond to your child’s behavior at each stage.

Set healthy patterns.

  • Take deliberate steps to put your baby on a regular routine. As part of this process, your wife may want to consult a lactation expert about establishing a healthy nursing schedule (whether breast-feeding or bottle-feeding). Once you’ve nailed this down, stick with it. Don’t let the baby take control of the situation.
  • Remember that you don’t necessarily need to pick up your baby every time she cries. If you know that she doesn’t need feeding or changing, you may need to let her “cry it out” once in a while. And if you want to sleep at night, make sure that she doesn’t sleep too much during the day.

Ease stress.

  • Maybe your wife would let you sleep in another room until the three months are up. In turn, you can let her grab a nap by taking over some of the child-care responsibilities when you get home.
  • When you are up in the night, try not to turn the lights on brightly. If you find it’s hard to go to sleep again, you might drink some warm milk before heading back to bed.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that parenting brings changes. Change isn’t always easy, but it helps to be flexible along the way and have a good sense of humor.

And if you’d like to discuss the challenges at greater length, we hope you’ll call our Counseling department for a free consultation. Our licensed counselors will be happy to help in any way they can.

If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

Focus on the Family Complete Book of Baby & Child Care

Your Marriage Can Survive a Newborn

The Christian Mama’s Guide to Baby’s First Year

First-Time Dad

New Dads: Embracing the Journey Ahead

When Baby Makes Three

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