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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How do I get enough sleep while taking care of a baby?

    I wake up frequently throughout the night to care for my infant when she is crying. I am absolutely exhausted during the day and never manage to get a solid night or day of rest. Advice?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Naomi Brown

    Registered Nurse

    I am a qualified Nurse, Midwife, Maternal and Child Health Nurse and Lactation Consultant. I have worked over the past 7 years across a range … View Profile

    The early months and years of parenting are physically and emotionally challenging at times and it can be difficult to feel well rested, particularly when you are caring for a small baby. A “solid” night or day of rest is not realistic but you may feel more rested by limiting your expectations of yourself each day. Some suggestions to assist with this include:
     not booking in too many appointments or catch ups with friends in one week
     having set days at home with no plans
     asking for help with household chores
     prioritising household chores into needs to be done and would nice to be done so you can balance this with caring for your baby
    To increase the amount and quality of rest you get I would advised you:
     aim to lie down for at least a ½ hour during the day. Have a set time of the day for this if you feel it will make it more likely to happen and honour it!
     use simple meditation techniques to quickly get back to sleep after night time feeds and to relax during your daily ½ hour lie down. There are many CDs that guide you through this which are available online as well.
     when your partner is available ask them to help you rest. Make sure you communicate with them how you are feeling and what you need. New mums are often very conscious their partner is going out to work without acknowledging their own hard work they are doing in the home.
     accept help when it is offered. Have a friend take your baby for a stroll in the pram while you have a lie down, ask a visitor to pop into the shops for you on their way over or ask them to help you out with doing some washing or cooking a meal
     go to bed early, even as early as 8pm if that is when your baby settles for the night. Often babies have a long sleep at the beginning of the night and then they wake more frequently after that so take advantage of it rather than sitting up watching TV. Remember it is not forever!
    To assist with your energy levels you may find some of the following tips useful:
     getting outside for a walk each day
     eating regular, healthy meals. Packing a lunchbox the night before can help you to have healthy foods and snacks at hand requiring limited preparation as well as remind you to eat.
     keeping up your fluid intake

  • Maria Nguyen

    HealthShare Member

    The first year is a hardest one, both emothionally and physically. My son just turned 2 and I only started to get the whole night sleep few months ago. First year was super exhausting. I breastfed my son and he would wake every 1,5 hour to eat. So what I did is I always slept when he slept. I started to drink more juice and water and take vitamins. It was hard, but remember this time will pass though. Additionally, occasional night out and some time away from your infant might help as well.

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  • Dr Carolyn Ee

    Acupuncturist, GP (General Practitioner)

    I'm a Sydney GP with a special interest in women's health especially menopause and TTC ( trying to conceive). I specialise in acupuncture, and am … View Profile

    If you are feeling exhausted, do talk to your child health nurse for some specific advice. It is difficult to advise as I do not know the age of your infant. If your baby is very young, in the first three months of life, it can be challenging to get enough rest as your baby will wake genuinely hungry and need to feed frequently. You could ask your partner to give a bottle of expressed breast milk for one of the overnight feeds, so you can get a block of sleep. Even as little as 4 or 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep can suddenly revive the most tired mother!

    Also, if your baby is very young, have hope! Many babies are unsettled up til around 12 weeks, and often settle down after this.

    If your baby is older, say 5-6 months, and still waking frequently, you may choose to start managing those wakings in a more proactive way. Advice from a sleep school can be helpful but be warned that they will recommend a form of “controlled crying” for your baby. While there is little evidence that there is longstanding psychological harm from this, you may not feel comfortable with this technique. However, it is usually effective, and can make a world of difference to how you are feeling.

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