Sleep, Infants and Parents

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house may not be immaculate, because that's not a priority right now.

It's also important to get some help. Have someone come in for a few hours a day, so you can take a nap. If there are two parents in the house, divide up the childcare responsibilities so each of you can get at least five hours of continuous sleep each night. Having help is particularly important for nursing mothers, who may feel the burden of childcare falls on them. Nursing mothers can pump their breast milk so another adult can give it to the baby in a bottle while the mother rests.

And most important: try to avoid making major decisions during the first few months of the baby's life—you are probably going to be too sleep deprived to have good judgment.

-- Jodi A. Mindell, PhD, is the Associate Director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and she is the author of Sleeping Through the Night, Revised Edition: How Infants, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night's Sleep (Harper Collins, 2005). She is also Director of the Graduate Program in Psychology at Saint Joseph's University, and a former member of the National Sleep Foundation Board.

Reviewed by Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., June 2010.