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Sleep Strategies for Your Baby’s First Month

When it comes to sleep, the first month is rough. Survive round-the-clock feedings and sneak in a little rest with tips from Alison Sweeney, host of The Biggest Loser and author of The Mommy Diet: A Month-by-Month Plan for a Healthy Body and Mind Before, During, and After Pregnancy.

The number one piece of advice you’ll hear from people is “sleep while the baby is sleeping.” It makes sense, but there will be so much you need to do in those precious moments that, realistically, there’s no way you will sleep every time your baby goes down for a nap. Besides, no matter how many little naps you get during the day, for adults that doesn’t make up for uninterrupted sleep. The bottom line is, when it comes to sleep, this first month is rough. Hang in there, and try these tips for getting at least a little more rest.

1. Involve your hubby with at least one middle-of-the-night feeding. If you’re nursing, turn the baby over to him as soon as you’re done and have him do all the legwork of burping and changing diapers and reswaddling so you can stay in a semiasleep state and go straight back to bed when the eating portion of the program is over. This won’t make total sense until you are in the thick of things, but nighttime feedings are about more than feeding, and with everything else that needs to be done they can take a while. So divide and conquer!

2. Maybe you can’t sleep every time the baby sleeps, but try to sleep during at least one of her daytime naps every day during this first month. Trust me, even an extra forty-five minutes or an hour of sleep in a day when you might otherwise get only three hours makes a real difference.

3. Ask for help! You know all that stuff you want to do while the baby is sleeping? Get help with as much of it as you can. That’s how it’s supposed to be — families used to live together, and moms would have sisters and grandmothers around to support them. Now it seems like women are determined to be supermoms and do everything themselves. I totally get that — my friends always tease me because I absolutely hate asking for help. But this is one time you have to suck it up and admit that you can’t do it all by yourself. When friends offer to help you, take them up on it. Ask them to make dinner, run to the grocery store, do your laundry, or whatever needs doing so you can relax and sleep.

4. Ask for help at night, too! This one might be even tougher for the do-it-all types out there (you know who you are), but try it. Ask a family member or a close friend to stay over, once a week or every couple of nights, so that you can sleep (for as long as your body will let you if you’re nursing). If you’re nursing, pump a bottle for the baby, or do the feeding and then hand the baby over for all the other stuff. (This will help your husband sleep, too.) Do not wait too long to do this. I had one friend who seriously went a little crazy after several weeks of no sleep. She called me, weeping, and wasn’t even aware that she was acting nuts. So a bunch of us went into helper mode and took turns relieving her during the night. I think it saved her sanity. Your close friends and family are happy to do this because they love you, so ask!

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