You’re reading this at 3 am, aren’t you? It's rough right now, we know. But eventually, baby will sleep longer stretches—usually around 3 months—and may even sleep through the night around 6 months. “The first couple months, you’re going to be tired. There’s not a whole lot you can do about it,” says Kira Ryan, coauthor of The Dream Sleeper: A Three-Part Plan for Getting Your Baby to Love Sleep. So you need to be smart and a little sneaky to get in as much sleep as you can. Try these tactics:
Follow the tried-and-true advice
Sleep when baby is sleeping. You’ve heard it a thousand times, but it works so seriously, follow that old-school adage, says Ryan. If you’ve never been a daytime napper in the past, it's time to become one now.
Feed baby—and skip everything else
The most important thing right now is that baby gets plenty of feedings. Make that your main priority and don’t stress about dealing with the dirty dishes in the sink, responding to the congratulatory emails filling up your inbox or waiting on guests who come to visit baby (trust us, everyone gets it). “I would literally just feed baby and sleep,” says Bumpie Rae S.
The most important thing is that you and your partner pitch in. Come up with a plan for how you’ll do that. Bumpie Natalie C. recommends creating “shifts”—chunks of time when one parent is in charge of getting up with baby, and the other can sleep. “I was pumping every four hours but we were both able to get some uninterrupted sleep, which was very helpful for our mental well-being,” she says.
Call in extra help
Who else can pitch in? Call in a family member or friend or even hire someone, like a night nurse, postpartum doula, maid service or food delivery service. Let them tackle the pile of dirty onesies, the vacuuming or other duties you can outsource so you can get some extra zzz's.
Make nighttime feedings simple
Keep baby in a bassinet by your bed so you’re spending less time wandering the halls and more time snoozing. “My baby woke up like clockwork; 11:45ish and 3,” says Bumpie Ashley K. “I planned for it by going to sleep as soon as she did at night and making sure I already had her bottle and formula by the bed ready to go.”
Create some space
Babies can be pretty loud sleepers—grunting, moving and cooing. If you’re ready to separate a bit from baby at night, start by putting a partition—a shoji screen or a curtain maybe—between the bassinet and your bed, says Ryan.
When you’re ready to move baby into her own room, turn the monitor down to the lowest setting. “A big mistake parents make is putting the monitor right next to their head and jacking it all the way up—every little noise will wake you,” says Ryan. “Even if you turn it down you will still hear your baby cry.”