Keeping your sanity with your newborn baby

Author Name: Heidi Holvoet, PhD

These special first weeks with your newborn never come back: maximize your own sleep so you can truly enjoy this time. We also have a look at which baby care products you really need, and which are just nice to have.

And I answer frequently asked real-life questions.

Sleep for YOU

Worried mother holding newborn

You've just given birth and are ready for a good rest ... but your new baby just might not allow you as much sleep as you need. Especially in these first weeks, she needs you nearby a lot and often also at night.

Even if she does sleep well, it can still be difficult for you to rest and sleep well. Or to find the energy to do all the things you want during the day.

Feeding, changing, putting to bed, hoping she'll sleep, arranging the baby shower, looking after an older brother or sister, shopping, working, ... but what about enjoying these newborn times and some much-needed time for yourself? I know it's not easy.

And still, my best advice: prioritize. Stand still and remember what's important. These first weeks with your child are so precious but they will be gone in a flash. Allow yourself the time to cherish this period. Chores and social have-to's that you do not enjoy should come second for a while.

What to do
  • Rest and relax when you can. Simple relaxation techniques such as belly breathing & body scan will help you relax. This physical relaxation also truly helps you sleep better, and settle more easily after yet another nightly awakening.
  • "Let go". Your baby is just born: she does not have to sleep perfectly yet. Accept that this is how newborns sleep.

    Yes do guide her with the key tasks as described higher, for optimal sleep. But besides that, allow yourself to relax about it: it's OK and the peace of mind you find will only improve everyone's sleep quality.
  • Sleeping when baby naps is a good idea but many moms don't like this idea or just can't. But you do not have to sleep in order to rest ...

    Whenever you can, squeeze in some me-time. During naps, don't rush to get a chore done but do something you enjoy.  Listen to music, take a bath, do yoga, dance, play with your older child, read a book, ... anything you enjoy can refresh your energy.
  • Don't hesitate to ask for help. Being a new mom is not easy and you don't have to do it all alone. Your partner, a family member or friend, or a babysitter can all help to take some of the load off you.

Basic newborn baby care

If you're still pregnant or have just given birth, my article about sleep during pregnancy is a good place to start and reinforce all the basics about sleep for you and your new baby.

For your tiny new addition to the family, crib safety and SIDS precautions are the main priority when it comes to sleep. Not only will a healthy and safe sleep environment protect her from injuries, it will also improve her overall feeling of well-being which effectively improves sleep.

To get a good feel for how much sleep would be enough, how to put her down, where to have baby sleep, ... browse my newborn sleeping tips.

When it comes to bathing, Sonia Rochel's Thalasso Baby Bath is a wonderful inspiration: discover how in my video interview with Sonia Rochel.

As for products and gear that can help, don't get carried away - or let baby product sellers overwhelm you: good sleep does not require much, and it doesn't have to cost a fortune. That's why divide my recommended newborn checklist in two parts:

  • simple must -haves you shouldn't be without (a safe crib, a night light, a sleeping bag and good books)
  • comfort items which are great but you can do without if budget is tight (wrap sling, room monitor, musical toy and humidifier).

As you may know, for me personally both as a mom and as a sleep consultant, a wrap sling carrier is actually more of a must than a comfort item ... so if you can get hold of one, I do highly recommend it. It's superb for bonding, helpful for care-free walks and shopping but also helps guide your little one with sleep when at home.

Frequently asked questions

I highly recommend to browse these real-life parent questions and my personalized advice to them. You're sure to find inspiration or recognition for your own situation ... or simply feel reassured that you're not alone in your struggle.

If you cannot find the answer you are looking for, don't hesitate to post your own question.

3 weeks old newborn sleep - night routine

My 1 week old newborn baby will easily settle on us but screams when put down

My 5 week old hardly sleeps and wakes constantly

My five weeks old Miracle Baby wakes up every 45 minutes!

My six week baby can not turn off from 8-11pm