The Virgin Mum: 8 tips for coping when your baby won’t sleep

This new mum shares some funny, and honest advice to help stay sane during those long nights with a newborn.

The Virgin Mum is a blog written by a first-time, Auckland mother, where she shares her journey of “falling face first into motherhood, farewelling my schedule and ideals”.

Newborns are nocturnal. I’m now nocturnal.

Nocturnal is defined by being awake in the really unlovable part of the night between 1am and 5am.

Anything before 1am is a late night, a party even. Anything after 5am is just a new day, and the button is reset. But those four hours in between. They can change a person.

I’ve become more pale, quick tempered, thirsty, and obviously tired from the abuse those four hours have given me.

But I have tips for anyone about to embark on this nocturnal endeavour.

Tip one

Make sure your game apps you play with friends, are friends who are also nocturnal.

Words with Friends, with no friends, is not fun. When you’re left refreshing your app with shattered dreams every time.

Tip two

There’s a time warp in those four hours where three minutes feels like 30, so get an app to time the feeds. They will fall asleep, you will fall asleep, and as I’ve come to realise – there is no correlation between him sleeping on the boob and him actually going to sleep. None whatsoever.

No matter how gently you put them in their bassinet, they wake at the thought of you wanting to sleep. That’s how they work.

Tip three

Around 2-3am, now’s a good time to recall all conversations you’ve ever had with people. Just to relive the feeling of conversing, and to stimulate some sense of feeling above the eyes.

Tip four

Forget all of the times throughout the day when it was so easy to feed, burp and get them back to bed. You’ve got your repertoire of tricks ready to pull out, but really just tell yourself that the trick is, there is no damn trick!

They’ve been awake at this time for their entire lives in your belly so far, they’ve got serious 12 HR jet lag and let’s be honest…. what have I got on tomorrow anyway? My entire schedule is him.

Oh and he’s only three weeks old. He’s learning just as much as me, but he’s learning the more important things like “if I cry, that blurry loud shape cuddles me” – not, “okay, she looks tired, I’m gonna drift off to sleep now and give her a break”.

Tip five

Don’t take it personally when your husband wakes and intervenes and it suddenly goes like clock work and he’s looking at you, and you’re looking at him and there’s no words being spoken but you’ll let him feel like a champion, knowing that it’s either all temporary and you should just close your eyes while you can, or he’s done it – it’s worked!

And you should close your eyes while you can.

Tip six

You find yourself reasoning out loud to your newborn as if they could understand. Things like “if you’re hungry then you should feed properly” and “I see you yawning, so you must be tired”.

But they aren’t capable of a rebuttal, so it’s fun to rebut out loud for them. Things like “well, you shouldn’t try kiss me with morning breath”, and “if you just let me sleep as long as I waned in the day, then I wouldn’t be so tired now”.

Reasoning and newborns do not mesh, so a two-sided debate is actually really refreshing.

Tip seven

Don’t book anything in the morning. Often I’ve done this when I’m feeling on top of the world, be it a cafe trip or a visitor, but a bad night is unpredictable and the morning is the only respite.

It’s my time to reset, recover, and rehab. It’s precious.

Tip eight

Sleep is overrated.

I made it three weeks and he’s still alive. I’m still alive. That’s a win.

This post first appeared on The Virgin Mum. You can follow more from her here.

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