First-Time Mom and Dad: Babies Do Actually Sleep, Right?
Posted by August 17, 2017on
After we brought our daughter home, we learned that our sleeping habits were in for a big change. How can parents cope with the stresses of having a baby?
Do babies only eat and cry? No, they also go to the bathroom constantly, and they do sleep sometimes. Fulfilling the needs of a newborn can be exhausting. But there are rewards as well—a reminder parents sometimes need during this intense time.
As we continued our adventures in parenthood, baby Izzy stretched us further than we thought possible. She is demanding and loud, but also cute as a button. She wants what she wants when she wants it, and she also makes the most adorable sounds. The thing she made abundantly clear in her first months was that if she was awake, she wanted to eat.
The first several months of Izzy’s life, we got a sum total of 30 hours of sleep for everyone in the house (at least it seemed that way!). The books and the doctor said that newborns should sleep at least 16 to 17 hours a day. We tried to explain this to our daughter, who often slept between 6 and 7 hours a day (never all at the same time, of course).
For some people, it would be great fun staying awake all night and getting an hour of sleep here or there, at least for a day or two. For others, like these new parents, bedtime used to be something to look forward to! If we didn’t get enough sleep at night, we were definitely not functioning at our best. However, the joy Izzy brings to us is worth all the sacrifice of sleep. Now sleep happens sporadically, dependent on Izzy’s needs.
Through all this, we have managed to keep Isabella alive and seemingly healthy. We don’t have all the answers, which reminds us of the importance of turning to the One who does (Isaiah 40:28).
Focus on your baby’s development
Through all the crying and feeding, we love taking care of our little Isabella. We want her to grow and develop, so we’ve tried to encourage this as much as two severely sleep-deprived individuals could. The early months and years are so critical in the development of everything from language to gross motor skills to cognition.
Here are some reminders for new parents in the first few months:
- Get help. Whether it’s with meals, cleaning or just a little break from your precious bundle, take help when it is available. Spouses especially need to help and rely on each other more than ever at this time. Many of the “wants” you had before the baby came along are not gone forever, but are simply on hold for a while as the “needs” are fulfilled. You can also support each other by talking, listening, encouraging and asking, “How can I help?”
- Crying is typical for many babies. You are not a bad parent if your baby cries a lot. Sometimes (maybe a lot of times) you won’t know why your baby is crying. Do your best to soothe him or her and use these times to develop the godly virtue of patience (James 1:4).
- Some newborns eat all the time. So, sit down, relax and enjoy the time you have with your baby. She will grow up quicker than you would like.
- Take a stroll outside. Getting out in the sunshine and breathing fresh air can increase your energy and give you the stamina you need to take care of your little one.
- Pray for mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health for you, your spouse and your new baby. It’s never too early to start this as a habit if you haven’t already. We need God’s mercy to help us through this challenging blessing.
During the first few months of Izzy’s life, the overwhelming consensus advice sounded like this:
“It’ll get easier. It’ll get better.”
It did, and it has.
For more insight into parenting, explore the “Parenting” section of Life, Hope & Truth.