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25 Ways to Handle the Stress of a New Baby

Bring some calm to the chaos with first-year survivor strategies that work.

Managing Sleep Deprivation continued...

13. Sleep When Baby Sleeps

Sleeping when the baby sleeps is time-tested advice, and it works. Bennett says, "Sleep is a medical necessity even for new moms." Sleep is also an important way to guard against postpartum depression.

"When one parent is up, the other one should be sleeping," Bennett says. The one on duty can sleep with the baby; the other one in a separate part of the home with a white noise machine and earplugs. Even nursing mothers can protect their brain chemistry from crashing as long as they get a few uninterrupted hours of sleep each night."

14. Don't Be a Super Hero

"It's tempting to try to take on the Super Mom role, insisting on doing everything for the baby from diapering to handling pediatrician's appointments," Singer says. "But you wind up exhausted, which won't help the baby -- or you."

Neal Patrick, father of two and a vice president of marketing, says he and his wife survived the first year with the use of a "night nurse" a few times a week. "Our first baby did not sleep well through the night, causing us to be completely sleep deprived. When the second child was almost due, we were able to find a pair of RNs who needed some extra money." The nurses each took one night a week where they stayed overnight with the Patricks. "They 'owned' the monitor and we were able to sleep with it turned off in our room. This one thing allowed us to feel refreshed in the morning -- at least for two days -- and able to keep up with two little ones!"

15. Let It Go -- Without Guilt

Babies don't notice dirty dishes in the sink or laundry piled high. Let things slide in exchange for taking a break or catching some ZZZs. "Teach the baby to draw in the dust on the shelves,"  Paula Polman, a mom and business owner in Edmonton, Canada, says.

16. Try a 'Baby Burrito'

A baby burrito is a special way to wrap a baby in a blanket so he or she feels more secure and may sleep better. You can find instructions for how to do it online.

17. Address Baby's Sleep Issues Sooner Rather Than Later

Singer says to work with your pediatrician to get baby to sleep through the night. "Get a good book on sleep techniques and get started on getting your nights back."

18. Rotate Night Duty

"I waited until I was 38 to get married and then had two boys back to back," Lisa McDonald, director of marketing for George Washington University Hospital, says. "I work full time and my husband is home with the boys and also a consultant. The first time around, we took shifts throughout the night, one of us getting up for the 2 a.m. feeding and the other for the 4:30 a.m. feeding. We were both sleep deprived and cranky all the time."

The second time around, she says, they got smarter. "We rotated the nights of the week. One took Monday night and the other took Tuesday night. In this way, one of us always got a good night's sleep. Then, if the opportunity presented itself to take the boys out of the house the next day, the parent who did the 'night shift' might even work in a nap."


Baby's First Year Newsletter

Because every week matters, get expert advice and facts on what to expect in your baby's first year.

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