New parents: Getting the sleep you need

Being a new parent can be exhausting. Try these strategies to fit more sleep into your days and nights.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

It's 2 a.m. and your newborn is crying. Will you ever get a good night's sleep again?

Although life with a newborn is a round-the-clock adventure, don't lose hope. By ages 3 to 4 months, many babies can sleep at least five hours at a time. At some point during your baby's first year, nighttime stretches of 10 hours are possible. In the meantime, a little creativity can help you sneak in as much sleep as possible.

Suggestions for the weary

While there's no magical formula for getting enough sleep, these strategies can help:

  • Sleep when your baby sleeps. Silence your phone, hide the laundry basket and ignore the dishes in the kitchen sink. Calls and chores can wait.
  • Set aside social graces. When friends and loved ones visit, don't offer to be the host. Instead, ask if they could watch the baby while you take a nap.
  • Don't 'bed share' during sleep. It's OK to bring your baby into your bed for nursing or comforting — but return your baby to the crib or bassinet when you're ready to go back to sleep.
  • Split duties. If possible, work out a schedule with your partner that allows each of you alternately to rest and care for the baby.
  • Give watchful waiting a try. Sometimes, you might need to let your baby cry himself or herself to sleep. Unless you suspect that your baby is hungry or uncomfortable, it's OK to encourage self-soothing. If the crying doesn't stop, check on your baby, offer comforting words and leave the room. Your reassuring presence might be all your baby needs to fall asleep.
Oct. 12, 2017 See more In-depth