As a new parent, you may be scared to sleep when baby sleeps. You may feel better if you stay close to your baby at night, such as sleeping in the same room and having a night light so you can check on them. Remember that irregular breathing is normal for newborns in the first few weeks.
Having your first baby can bring with it a set of new fears that you didn’t plan for. A newborn is very fragile and dependent on others to care for it. Add to this all of the warnings and cautions new parents get about sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and proper sleeping conditions, and it’s no wonder some parents feel panicked at the idea of sleeping when their infant is.
However, it’s best to sleep while your baby is sleeping because it is a substantial period when you can catch up on any rest you need. Not getting enough rest as a parent can slow down your reflexes and cause cognitive problems, which can be more harmful. If you’re worried about sleeping too long, you can always set the alarm.
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Why You’re Worried When Your Baby Sleeps
It’s an instinct to feel very protective of your infant. As a new parent, you probably worry about everything and anything that might happen to your baby while you aren’t paying attention. While sleeping, you are no longer aware of your surroundings, which can cause a lot of anxiety about your baby’s wellbeing.
There is plenty of stress with the first few weeks of being a parent. Your baby can seem helpless to you, and if they’re your first child, then you’re probably worrying about everything that might happen when you aren’t looking. It’s important to acknowledge and accept those fears and even talk to your doctor about them to get some guidance.
There is also all of the anxiety around SIDS, which can make new parents want to keep an eye on their newborn at all times, especially right after birth. To keep in mind, newborns tend to have irregular breathing for the first few weeks and may even seem to stop breathing for too long. If their coloring looks normal, then there’s nothing to worry about.
Should You Sleep When Your Baby Sleeps?
Sleeping when your baby sleeps is the best way to get the rest you need. It can be tempting to stay awake to watch over them or get other things done around the house. However, sleeping when your baby sleeps is a substantial time when you can rest and recharge.
If you want to care for your newborn correctly, you need to ensure that you are getting enough rest. You can’t be awake all the time to watch over your baby, nor is it necessarily a good idea to completely change your sleep schedule to sleep during the day while someone else watches your baby.
Your baby shouldn’t need any attention from you while sleeping, but if the idea of sleeping when they are sleeping still bothers you, then consider sleeping in the same room as your baby with a night light so you can see them if you want to check on them during the night. Understanding their sleep patterns can help you know when there’s an issue.
A Note on Co-sleeping
It can be tempting to think that because you’re sleeping simultaneously as your baby and possibly sleeping in the same room, you should co-sleep or share a bed with your newborn. While safe co-sleeping is possible, it’s unlikely that your bed will meet the proper conditions.
Co-sleeping is something that many cultures encourage and seem normal, but it’s a more complex topic for North American families. However, co-sleeping is best for toddlers and older children, and they have the movement skills to avoid entrapment and even wake their parents if something is wrong, and newborns lack these skills.
Newborns need more care, especially when only a few weeks old. There are devices you can get that attach to the side of the bed so you can sleep next to your baby without them being in bed with you. It can make it easier to breastfeed and watch your infant through the sleep session.
How to Stop Worrying About Your Baby’s Sleep
There are a few different things to try to stop worrying about your baby while sleeping. Most new parents like to take turns watching the baby while the other sleeps. Ensuring that your baby has the proper bed and conditions for sleeping can also give you great peace of mind.
Some tips to stop worrying about your baby’s sleep:
- Sleep in shifts: If the idea of no one watching your baby while you sleep is too much for you, then consider sleeping in shifts with your partner or relative watching the baby while you sleep and then sleeping when you wake to watch the baby.
- Sleep in the same room as your baby: Sleeping close to your baby can help elevate some of the anxiety that something might happen in the night. Keeping a nightlight in the room will also allow you to see your baby whenever you want to check on them. Ensure that your checks don’t disturb your baby’s sleep.
- Newborns only sleep about 2 to 3 hours at a time, so don’t be worry if you feel like your baby is waking too often. While you shouldn’t wake your baby in the middle of a sleep cycle, expect to sleep in smaller stretches.
- Always have your baby sleep on their back: Unless there is some risk that your doctor has told you about, you should be putting your baby into bed on their back. Ensure that the bedding is firm, and you keep the bed clean of toys, blankets, and pillows.
- Learning infant first-aid: It may give you peace of mind to learn some basic first-aid to help you respond to any severe emergency if one comes up. You can learn first-aid from the Red Cross or your delivery hospital. Contact these services to sign up.
- Talk to someone about your worries: Talking to your partner or a friend or relative that is a parent can help you feel less alone in your fears, and they may have some advice that they can share to deal with the issues causing your anxiety. Online forums can also be a source of comfort for new parents.
If you have any severe anxiety or stress, you should talk to your doctor about postpartum anxiety or depression. Your doctor will give you more specific methods of countering the anxiety, like medication and supplements. Ensure that you aren’t self-medicating or taking anything that might react poorly to the hormones you are probably already experiencing.
It’s only natural to want to protect your baby, and the best way to do that is to have them in sight. However, getting enough sleep is one of the best ways to ensure that you are giving your newborn the care and attention they need. Just because you have a baby to take care of doesn’t mean you should stop taking care of yourself.