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Tips for parents to survive a lack of sleep

  • Go to bed early!! Babies generally sleep best before 12am and therefore, so should you! Yes it is frustrating, as you have so much to do or would really like some down time, but this phase is short lived and you need the sleep more!

      

  • Take turns. Take turns with your spouse or ask a friend to help out for a night, if your baby is formula fed, (apologies to the breast feeding moms, as dads and friends can't help share the load unless you express!)

  

 

  • Try and sleep when your baby does. This is easier said than done when you have more than one child with differing sleeping patterns, but try and get help from friends or family, to give you an opportunity to sleep and rest. It is extremely important for you to rest in order to maintain your energy, as well as keeping your milk supply going if you are breast feeding.

     

  • Use a baby monitor with a sleep apnoea mat(a mat which is placed under the mattress and monitors the baby's breathing). If the baby stops breathing for more than 20 seconds an alarm will sound. This ensures that you can sleep peacefully without worrying if your baby is breathing- a fear of many new Parents.

      

  • Try not to have unrealistic expectations in terms of your baby's sleeping habits. I always found if my expectations were too high I was bound to get disappointed. Expect nothing, and then be pleasantly surprised if you get more sleep than you expected.

      

  • As much as you may want to reach for that coffee or chocolate fix, when you are running on empty, don't- if you are Breast Feeding that is! The caffeine and sugar go into your breast milk, and could be contributing to your baby's inability to sleep. It creates a vicious cycle, so try not to let it start.

      

  • If things are very bad, you could employ the services of a night nurse, to help you and your partner get some sleep.

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The information in this article was reviewed for medical accuracy by, Paediatrician and Allergy Specialist, Dr Claudia Gray (MBChB (UCT), MRCPCH (London), MScClin Pharm(Surrey), DipPaedNutrition (UK), PostgradDipAllergy (Southampton), Certified Paediatric Allergologist (SA))

Dr Gray works at the allergy clinic at the Red Cross Children's Hospital in Cape Town, and has a private practice at Vincent Pallotti Hospital in Cape Town, contact 021 531 8013.