How Can I Get More Sleep after Having a Baby?

JanelMS, RD, LDN, CBS

Read time: 4 minutes

What should I know about postpartum sleep?

  • During the first few months of life, babies are usually eating almost around-the-clock and their sleep patterns are unpredictable.1

  • Lack of sleep plus recovering from childbirth can be detrimental to any new parent’s health and productivity.2,3

  • With a surge in postpartum hormones and the stress of having a new baby, some moms find they have trouble falling asleep, despite feeling exhausted.4

  • The blue light emitted from electronics, such as phones, computers and TVs can disrupt our sleep.5

You probably had a handful (or more!) of well-meaning friends and family members telling you to sleep as much as possible before the baby comes, since you won’t be sleeping much with a newborn. While it’s impossible to bank sleep for a later sleep-deprived date, there are some things you can do to maximize your sleep as much as possible when you have a newborn at home.

Know that life with a newborn is unpredictable

Being prepared for unpredictable sleep can help you set your expectations for the newborn stage. The most important thing to know is that this too shall pass; more sleep is on the horizon!

In the first few months of a baby’s life, they’re eating almost around-the-clock and their sleep patterns are very irregular.6 That, coupled with the fact that newborns don’t seem to have their days and nights sorted out yet, means you’re likely getting only a few hours of sleep at a time.7

Lack of sleep plus recovering from childbirth can be detrimental to any new parent’s health and productivity, so finding ways to optimize your sleep as you adjust to having a newborn is essential.8

Read More: How Can I Help My Newborn (0-12 weeks) Sleep Well at Night?

Is it possible to sleep when the baby sleeps?

The recommendation, “sleep when the baby sleeps” can be tricky to execute without extra hands to help out. Most newborns need to eat about every two to three hours day and night, and once that feeding is done, there’s burping, changing, swaddling, and getting the baby back to sleep.1 At that point, you have fewer than two hours to get some shut-eye, and may decide to tackle the growing pile of laundry or dishes instead.

If you can enlist a few friends or family members to help, delegate those non-baby related tasks to them so you can focus on your baby and self-care. Once you’re done feeding your baby, hand them off to a trusted adult who can take care of changing, burping, and rocking the baby to sleep while you sneak off for a nap.

Learn More: What are Typical Sleep Patterns for Newborns (0 - 12 week olds)?

Make it easier to fall asleep

With a surge in postpartum hormones and the stress of having a new baby, some moms find they have trouble falling asleep, despite feeling exhausted.4 As a result, many moms turn to screens – phones, TVs, computers and iPads – to quiet their minds or give them something to do while feeding their baby in the middle of the night. The problem is that the blue light emitted from electronics can actually disrupt our sleep.5

To help, there are inexpensive glasses you can wear made specifically to block this light if you enjoy watching TV a few hours before bedtime.9 You can also try reducing your screen time a few hours before going to bed to help optimize your sleep.10

Doing calming breathing exercises is another way you can calm the mind and body during restless moments when you cannot fall asleep.11

Want to chat more about your baby’s nighttime feeding and sleep patterns? Reach out to our team of registered dietitians and lactation consultants for free! They’re here to help on our free to live chat from Monday – Friday 8am - 6pm (ET), and Saturday – Sunday 8am - 2pm (ET). Chat Now!

Share nighttime feeding duties

If you have a partner who can help with nighttime feeding sessions, take advantage of alternating who feeds the baby in the evening so you can get a stretch of 5 to 6 uninterrupted hours of sleep.

After about four months of age, babies start to develop a sleep pattern and you may find yours consistently goes to sleep for a stretch of about six hours starting in the early evening.12 Take this as your cue to go to bed as well so you can get into a restful, deep state of sleep earlier in the evening.

Exhausted and need more tips on getting sleep? Read this article for more information: How Can I Cope with Fatigue during Pregnancy and Postpartum?

How Can I Get More Sleep after Having a Baby?

  • If possible, enlist a few friends or family members to help out. Delegate those non-baby related tasks to them so you can focus on your baby and self-care.

  • Once you’re done feeding your baby and you have help available, hand them off to an experienced adult who can take care of changing, burping, and rocking the baby to sleep while you sneak off for a nap.

  • If you don’t have any one to help out, know that it’s okay to let some house-keeping items go for a little bit while you adjust to parenthood and get some needed sleep. As your little one gets a little older, they’ll sleep longer periods and begin sleeping more at night as well. Hang in there!

  • Buy inexpensive glasses made to block electronics’ blue light if you enjoy watching TV a few hours before bedtime, or try reducing your screen time 2-3 hours before going to bed to optimize your sleep.4,5

  • Do calming breathing exercises before bed or when you cannot fall back to sleep.11

  • If you have a partner, alternate who feeds the baby in the evening so you can get a stretch of 5-6 uninterrupted hours of sleep.

  • Go to bed in the early evening when your baby goes to bed.

Let's Chat!

We know parenting often means sleepless nights, stressful days, and countless questions and confusion, and we want to support you in your feeding journey and beyond.

Our Happy Baby Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitians certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too, which means they’ve been there and seen that. They’re here to help on our free, live chat platform Monday - Friday 8am - 6pm (ET), and Saturday - Sunday 8am - 2pm (ET).Chat Now!

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For more on this topic, check out the following articles:

What are Typical Sleep Patterns for 4-12 Month Old Babies?

How Can I Help My Newborn (0-12 weeks) Sleep Well at Night?

How to Help Your Older Baby Sleep Well at Night