How to: Sleep When Baby Sleeps



1. Go to Bed Early
When you get baby down for the night, don't jump up thinking, "Now is my chance to do everything I wasn't able to get done today!" Instead, take it as time for bed for yourself, too. When baby is young, there's absolutely no shame in following her schedule. You just carried her for nine months inside your body, and now you've spent the entire day carrying her outside your body--allow yourself to get some rest when she gives it to you!

I will be the first to admit I was asleep by 8 or 9 p.m. most nights in Edie's first few months. I'd start nursing/dancing her to sleep around 7 or 7:30 (which we still do) and when she drifted off, I took that as my cue to lie down and get comfy. Lots of nights I'd turn on Netflix thinking, "I can't go to sleep before 8 o'clock! That's lame!" and find myself dozing before finishing a 20 minute episode of The Office. I often ended up deciding to give in because I knew she'd be awake in a couple of hours to nurse and I'd be wishing I'd gotten a little rest.

2. Say No to Technology
Which brings me to my next point ^.  Turn off your phone, the T.V., and your brain. You've been ON all day long and you'll be asked to be on again soon when baby wakes to eat--turn everything off when you can and close your eyes. And if you just aren't tired, I've found reading (a real book, not a phone or ipad!) helps make my eyes heavy at the end of a long day.

I'll be honest, a couple of months ago I actually moved the T.V. out of the bedroom and started keeping my phone downstairs or turning it off when I carried Edie up to bed. I started to realize I was wasting a lot of time scrolling through my phone after Edie had dozed off. Those Instagram photos and Facebook posts will still be there tomorrow, and if I'm meant to see them, I will.

3. Make Up for the Naps You Didn't Take in Preschool
Baby's down for a nap? Lie down with her! Some of my most restful sleep has been on the rare days Edie takes a three hour nap and I end up falling asleep on accident while nursing her down because I wasn't TRYING to fall asleep (I sometimes struggle to shut off and relax at night)--it just came upon me out of sheer exhaustion. If you're tired enough to nap, do it!

4. Let the Laundry Wait
Seriously, it'll still be there when you get up. Or tomorrow. Or this weekend. Being a mama is a 24/7 job and you have to take breaks when they're given to you. Taking a nap or going to bed early with baby is no reason to feel guilty--make your rest a priority. Make self care a priority.

5. And the Ever-Controversial...Co-Sleep
This is one of the topics I've learned we're not really supposed to talk about in the parenting public, especially if we're of those who practice co-sleeping. But I can honestly tell you co-sleeping is by far the biggest reason I've gotten the sleep I've gotten since Edie was born. She falls asleep better with me and stays asleep longer (I know this because the naps/nights I get up while she's sleeping, she's awake within minutes), I'm far more relaxed when she's with me (not feeling the need to get up and check that she's breathing, etc.), and she has easy access to nursing whenever she pleases. That's the main thing, I think--when she wakes in the middle of the night to nurse, since my breasts are right there, she doesn't actually fully wake up and cry to where I have to settle her, then feed her. She just latches right on and nurses back to sleep. I also appreciate not having to roll out of bed, stand up and walk across the house to get her out of her crib, which would require me to fully wake up as well.

And co-sleeping during naps has forced me to slow down, at least lie with her as she nurses down, and relax/nap to recharge for the rest of the day. I'm a very type A/get things done kind of girl, but I love that sharing a bed with my baby makes me be still more often (and gives me the sweetest snuggles and opportunities to just stare at my babe's pretty eyelashes. I know these moments are fleeting!).

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There are days I feel tired, for sure, but I can honestly say I haven't felt full-on sleep deprived in my ten months of motherhood, even though she still nurses throughout the night. To sum up my infant sleep philosophy, I'm a big believer in following your baby's signals. When she says, "It's nap time, Mama!" drop what you're doing and cuddle her. She'll be too big and too cool for it soon enough.