Calling all New Parent’s…
Ahh, the joys of being a parent! The cuddles, the love, the cuteness. Though wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy it all with a bit more sleep? In those early months of adjusting to having a baby in your life, the struggle to get enough rest is real. “It can seem like a form of parental jetlag that goes on for months and months,” says sleep coach and father Max Kirsten. Fortunately, he has plenty of wisdom to share with tired new parents looking to enjoy brighter mornings. From the magic of power naps, and calming sounds to soothing baby muslins, here’s everything you need to know to stay rested and energised on your exciting journey.
P.S. ‘Take a deep breath…’ you’re in for quite the ride.
1. Establish (and stick to…) a Manageable Routine
According to Max, “the setting and then sticking to a schedule is one of the most important keys to sleep success” Now, this may not happen overnight. Broken sleep is something all babies go through initially as they develop their circadian rhythm. While they get their little heads around the difference between day and night, you might find you are up and down a lot. Follow a set schedule for bedtime and waking up. Remember, sharing is caring. If you live with a partner, make sure you split the week so each of you at least gets one or two good night’s rest. Still, struggling to keep your eyes open? You are NOT alone! Sleep deprivation is tough, which is why parents have to somehow be relentless troopers; the good news is tip two has something that can help.
2. Tap into the magic of Power Naps
Like you, if your baby is not getting enough sleep during the night, the poor little things will not be feeling too good the next day. The good news is every parent in the know has a trick up their sleeve – it’s time to tap into the magic of power naps. “A relaxing thirty-minute nap can be highly restorative,” Max says. More sleep means fewer tears and tantrums, and why not even take one for yourself? If you can’t quite switch off, “getting a bright sunny walk or enjoying the daylight by the window will help you to feel more awake — the perfect place to take a well-deserved coffee break. Resting regularly is key to feeling like a sane parent, so remember to put your feet up whenever you can”.
3. Tuck into Sleepy Snacks
Find your little one drifting off after a feed? It’s likely down to the tryptophan that stimulates the hormone melatonin, according to Max who explains “the hormone is naturally present in breast milk though it’s not added to powdered formula”. Sleep inducing foods can also help parents whose sleeping routine is all out of whack and need to be resting wherever possible.
Turkey, meats, oats, cheese, tuna and whole milk can all help along with tryptoyphan and magnesium rich foods. Green vegetables, spinach, nuts, legumes, seeds, yoghurt, bananas and dark chocolate all make for great sleepy snacks. Staying well nourished will give you the energy you need to keep going and help you to relax at the same time.
4. Relax with Calming Sounds
From the humble bedtime story to advanced white noise, the meditative effects of sound for our sleep are well known. When it comes to your baby there are many different types of noise that claim to help. Max advises “reading the reviews before buying anything” this can save wasting precious time buying the wrong one. Brown noise, very similar to white noise, can be particularly helpful at soothing babies to sleep, as are natural sounds like distant waves and the pitter patter of rain. Max’s award-winning ‘ABC of Better Sleep’ program is full relaxation techniques and soothing wave recordings that can help you and your little one to drift-off and dream. Anything that helps your baby breathe in a slow, rhythmical way like waves will have them snoozing longer and deeper. Keep experimenting to find what works, you might even find they make you feel sleepy too!
5. Soothe them with Baby Muslins
Looking for ways to soothe your baby can be overwhelming, though there are some tried and tested simple tips that can help. A pack (or 3) of soft, baby muslins are every new parent’s best friend. Not only are the smaller squares handy for mopping up spillages, cosy blankets and perfect make-shift bibs, the larger squares are ideal for gently swaddling your little one to sleep. The comforting fabric helps newborns stay calm and sleep more soundly by providing that snug, safe feeling of being in the womb. Hypo-allergenic muslins are best for baby skin and the softer the better. They don’t come much softer than bamboo, the naturally thermo-regulating fabric is perfect for snuggling and soothing your baby off for sweet dreams.
If you are feeling out of sorts in your new role, Max has some wise words. “Be gentle on yourself” Parenting is not easy and lack of sleep can lead to everything from low mood to lost memory. Take every opportunity you have to rest, restore and re-new, from short naps to eating nourishing foods. The better you take care of yourself the more ready you will be for the joy & challenges of raising your little hero!
Above all, remember you are not alone, connecting with friends, family and other new mums and dads can help. However tired you may be, look in the mirror everyday and remind yourself…You are doing great!