When I had my first baby at the age of thirty-three, I genuinely accepted and welcomed this new change in my life. I had worked 10-13 hours shifts as a registered nurse, lived in Manhattan, and thought I understood what it felt like to be tired.
I had no idea that the most challenging aspect of parenthood for me would become the lack of sleep.
A friend and I joked about how sleep deprivation is a form of torture. It wasn't so funny though when I couldn't enjoy wake times with my baby, and I couldn't recall simple tasks throughout our day.
Clinically, it all makes sense that sleep deprivation impacts not only our physical well-being but our psychological and emotional wellness. Here are a few side effects from lack of sleep:
- Difficulty performing routine tasks - Remembering to eat and start the laundry felt like a challenge
- Moodiness and Indecisiveness - I'm not moody. You. Are. Moody. Oh wait, maybe I am a tad cranky.
- Weakened immune system - The mothership needed to dock and get some downtime. I began to feel achy and more prone to catching colds and viruses.
- Impaired cognitive function - I may or may not have found a tube of diaper cream in the fridge while the ketchup was by the changing table.
There are some funny parenting parodies online about our lack of sleep, but the reality is that we have to take care of ourselves so we can take care of our baby. I would argue that getting some restful sleep is the most critical element to helping a new mom.
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Knowing that sleep will play a key part in how you feel about your days and nights as a parent, I advocate for ways to help promote a restful environment for everyone. Encouraging sleep for baby will positively impact the entire family dynamic.
Here are three products to help encourage sleep:
Glider/Rocking Chair - Whether it's a rocking chair or glider, I can't tell you the difference this made in my life. While I didn't use a glider with my first child, I sat in a glider multiple times a day with my second child for feedings, reading time, and comfort. We moved when my youngest was three years old, and we sold the glider. I still wish I had it. Every day.
Not to be confused with a sleep aid, the glider made it easier for me to relax, thus allowing my baby to feel relaxed. I considered that chair our safe spot.
Soft, High-Quality, Natural Fabric Towel - It may seem obvious, but a high-quality natural fabric that feels soft and comforting to baby after bath sets the tone for calm and restful sleep. As adults, we appreciate soft towels, and the soft skin of baby will enjoy it as well. A good towel is like being handed an invitation...for relaxation and sleep.
Books - Beyond the benefits of setting up a lifelong love of learning and creating a routine, here are four ways that reading books promote sleep:
- Books are a tool to communicate and baby will be soothed by your voice.
- We can provide comfort and care while reading books.
- Reading sets up a bedtime routine.
- Books offer a calm activity that isn’t overly stimulating.
If someone asked me to describe an early parental moment of pure joy, I'd have to say it was watching my sleeping baby. It's a pleasure to advocate not only for babies as a nurse and fellow mom, but also for parents.
Which products have you found helpful in encouraging sleep? Check out a few of our favorites below: