Help for Sleep-deprived Parents of Newborns

Ask the Experts by Patty Werner

Q: My husband and I have a 4-1/2 month-old baby who is not sleeping well. We are becoming very short with each other as sleep deprivation sets in. How can we avoid fighting all the time?

A: It is very common for mom and dad to take frustrations out on each other when sleep is scarce and partners are overtired. Here are 3 things you can do to help ease the conflict:

1. Get Back On the Same Page: During your pregnancy, you likely experienced feelings of excitement and tremendous oneness with each other. Conversations between expectant parents often center on the hopes and dreams you have for your little one. But very rarely do partners talk about approaches to parenting, particularly what to do with sleep issues.

This conversation is the key to relieving the tension you are feeling. Open up about what you are comfortable with, and not comfortable with, when it comes to helping your baby settle for sleep.

How much crying are you willing to listen to? Does holding, rocking or feeding your baby to sleep feel right for you? (Be careful if it does, you don't want your baby becoming dependent on sleep props) Is Cry-It-Out the answer for you?

Parents should come to a consensus on how to handle sleep prior to experiencing challenges. Keep an open-mind during this discussion and remember that you both have your baby's best interests at heart.

2. Stick To The Program: Once your game plan is agreed upon, write it down and include day-by-day guidelines. This will keep everyone on the right track and provides the framework needed to stay consistent in your approach.

3. Make Decisions Before Going to Bed: Once your baby has gone to sleep, decide who will get up for the overnight wakes. Also, make note of what time baby will need an overnight feed and plan to use your sleep training approach for any other wakes. Making these decisions before going to bed removes any guesswork and alleviates the tension.

Patty Werner is the only Certified Maternity and Baby Sleep Consultant in Michigan. As a baby sleep specialist she customizes gentle, no-cry Sleep Plans for families experiencing difficulties with their little ones and supports her clients through the training process.  You can reach Patty at (248) 770-4655 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You can also visit her website: Werner is a member of the Family Center's Association of Professionals.

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