Dr Richard C. Woolfson
1. Reduce unnecessary chores
Those sleepless nights with your new baby mean that you have less ability to concentrate on daily activities and less energy to complete routine tasks.
So get rid of those minor domestic chores that can wait until tomorrow or that can be left out altogether. For instance, the dining room doesn’t need to be dusted.
2. Aim to take naps
Before your delightful little baby arrived, you probably had a fixed sleeping pattern where you stayed awake all day and slept solidly through the night.
Now, with disturbed nights, you should take short naps – even if they are only five minutes – whenever you can, in the mid-morning, afternoon or evening.
3. Don’t blame your baby
It’s not her fault that she cries or that she likes to be awake when you want to sleep. That’s just what babies do during their first year.
Of course, you would like her to establish a better sleep pattern (and she will eventually), but in the meantime, try not to get annoyed with her. Life is just too exciting for her to sleep.
4. Accept help
If relatives or friends offer to look after your baby for a few hours, take advantage of that opportunity. You do not need to be with her every minute of the day.
A good babysitter can also serve the same purpose. Having some time to yourself helps your stress levels go down, and you feel more energised afterwards.
5. Share responsibility
Share the responsibility of managing your baby when she wakes during the night with your husband.
It doesn’t take two of you to calm the baby down when she wakes during the night or when she cries. Splitting the task in this way means that at least one of you will get a good night’s sleep no matter what happens.
6. Think positively
Remind yourself that no matter how stressed you feel about your lack of sleep and your new chores, the situation will get better.
Look forward to the better times that lie ahead. Be assured that your baby’s sleep patterns will gradually improve over the next few months and that your life will steadily return to normal.
7. Identify her achievements
The stress of sleep-deprivation becomes easier to bear when you make a specific point of acknowledging your baby’s achievements, such as her improved physical skills, her interest
in more challenging toys, and so on.
Try to avoid focusing solely on her sleep habits each day.
8. Adopt a healthy lifestyle
Under stress caused by lack of sleep, you may be tempted to drink more alcohol, smoke more and eat easy-access junk food.
Although that might make you feel better in the short-term, the long-term effects are that you will feel even worse. Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all, and try to eat plenty of fresh food.
Related: What to eat during confinement
9. Be honest with yourself
There is absolutely no point in pretending to your partner, friends, relatives and workmates that everything is fine and that you are coping without difficulty.
It is far better to let people know that you are feeling a little stressed through lack of sleep, as they will be prepared to make minor allowances for you.
10. Talk to other parents
Hearing that other parents went through the same challenge of sleep deprivation when their baby was this age doesn’t make you any less tired, but it does give you a sense of perspective.
Sharing experiences is better than struggling with them on your own. So have a chat with other parents of young children.