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 age 3 months, many babies can sleep at least five hours at a time. By age 6 months, nighttime stretches of nine to 12 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 up nighttime duties. Work out a schedule with your partner that allows both of you to rest and care for the baby. If you're breast-feeding, perhaps your partner could bring you the baby and handle nighttime diaper changes. If you're using a bottle, take turns feeding the baby.
  • Give watchful waiting a try. Sometimes, middle-of-the-night fussing or crying is simply a sign that your baby is settling down. Unless you suspect that your baby is hungry or uncomfortable, it's OK to wait a few minutes to see what happens.
Aug. 04, 2011 See more In-depth