How to Sneak in More Sleep with a Newborn

Sleep deprivation is one of the most difficult challenges when it comes to caring for a newborn. Luckily, we have some advice to help you get as much shuteye as possible.

90% of babies won’t sleep for stretches longer than six hours at a time until they reach a minimum of three months of age – and most take a lot longer to ‘sleep through the night’ than that. A lack of sleep is, therefore, an inevitable part of parenthood! Here are some tips on getting as much of it as you can.

Consider co-sleeping

Co-sleeping means having your baby in your bedroom inside their own crib or co-sleeper. It’s different from having baby in your bed (bed-sharing), which is tempting to do but considered quite risky unless strict safety guidelines are followed (i.e. no pillows, no thick blankets, no alcohol consumption etc.).

If you can get used to baby’s little noises and movements, co-sleeping is very safe and will make it easier for some parents to rest more. You won’t have to continuously get up to tend to your newborn when they wake – instead, they’ll be in arm’s reach and close enough for you to check on whenever you feel the need.

Sleep whenever you possibly can

If your partner only returns home from work at 6pm – so what? Hand the little one over for an hour or two and go and catch up on some zzz’s while you can!

Mother and marketing co-ordinator, Zakia Paulsen from Durban was hesitant to nap when her partner came home in the early evening for fear that it might affect her ability to sleep well at ‘bedtime’. “I quickly realised that the reality was that, with the baby still confusing day and night, I wouldn’t exactly be sleeping much anyway! I learnt to get the shut-eye that I needed whenever I possibly could, even if that meant napping at 7pm,” she says. 

Lie down while breastfeeding

Putting your feet up is sometimes just as refreshing as a cat-nap. If you’re feeling low on energy during the day and you’re breastfeeding your little one, try doing so lying down.

“You’ll want to place a pillow under your head and behind your back for extra support. Place baby on his side and pull him gently towards you, allowing his nose to gently touch your nipple. Help him to latch using the hand and arm not resting on the bed, then lie back, breathe deeply and relax,” explains Jane Maclaren, a nurse and midwife from Johannesburg.

Go for a walk

Getting some exercise and fresh air may be the last thing that you feel like doing, but a leisurely morning walk can work wonders for you and baby. Not only will the sunlight help to teach your newborn about the difference between day and night, but it will also reset your circadian rhythm (your natural sleep-wake cycle) if you didn’t get much sleep the night before.

Embrace babywearing

Essentially, babywearing refers to carrying your little bundle in a newborn-friendly wrap or carrier. Babywearing has been proven to ease colic symptoms, reduce crying and encourage babies to sleep for longer periods of time, both in and out of the carrier – all of which adds up to more sleep for you! Remember, when choosing a design, make sure that you select one that supports baby’s hip development by keeping the knees above hip level (in a froggie position) at all times.

Remember, if ever you worry that your little one is not sleeping well for any reason other than simply being a hungry, transitioning newborn, trust your gut and contact your baby’s doctor for advice.


Choosing the right medical aid is no joke, but we’ll leave you smiling.