Menu
New parents lose 44 days of sleep during the first year of baby’s life

My son doesn't always want to take a nap, but I always do. It's a feeling that's been hard to shake ever since I became a parent nearly two years ago. And while I'm persistently tired now, my fatigue levels were downright dangerous during those earliest days when I knew I was too sleep-deprived to operate a car. After all, if I was putting coffee in the fridge and milk in the cupboard, my reactions on the road were worthy of questioning.


For better or worse, sleep-deprivation is inevitable for new moms—even though the extent of it is something few of us fully comprehend before baby arrives. But as hard as it may be to imagine with groggy eyes, science shows new moms will sleep again.

FEATURED VIDEO

“Studies have examined the sleep loss associated with having an infant and determined parents lose an average of two hours of sleep per night for the first five months and then one hour per night until the age of two," says Kelly Sullivan, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University.

Sullivan studies sleep deprivation in parents and says that when the sleep patterns of women without kids are compared to those of moms, the differences are obvious—even after baby has outgrown newborn clothes.

Indeed, an informal survey of new parents in the United Kingdom found parents lose 44 days of sleep during the first year of a baby's life as they only get 5.1 hours of shut-eye during the average night.

According to Sullivan, chronic sleep deprivation can result in consequences far worse than cold coffee and spoiled milk: It is associated with increased accidents, problems concentrating, poor performance on the job and in school, and possibly, increased sickness and weight gain.

“It's important for individuals, especially those in caregiving roles, to recognize issues that increase their risk of health problems and work to maintain optimum physical and mental health in order to continue functioning at the high level that caregiving often requires."

Moms are more affected than dads

Getting the sleep we need may involve getting some help from our partners, especially as Sullivan's research of more than 5,800 adults showed dads aren't as afflicted by sleep loss as moms.

“The only factor that was independently associated with insufficient sleep for women was having children in the household," Sullivan says. “In fact, each child in the household was associated with a nearly 50% increase in a woman's odds of insufficient sleep. Conversely, men's sleep was not associated with having children in the household."

She says the reasons for the gender disparity are beyond the scope of her study, but biological factors like pregnancy and the demands of breastfeeding could play a role in why women get less rest.

It's important to start healthy sleep habits—for everyone

Sullivan notes that while infancy is a particularly challenging period for parents, the demands of parenting aren't limited to those early days. She says that's why moms should prioritize rest even as the kids outgrow the newborn phase and head into childhood.

“Sleep needs and challenges differ and the approach to address sleep challenges needs to be individualized," she says. “For some women, that will include enlisting the help of friends and family. For others, stress management techniques and exercise may help."

Remember: You will sleep again

I started feeling better when my husband began taking every other night with the baby. This allowed me to spend three or four nights a week sleeping alone in my room, wearing earplugs and knowing my baby was safe with his dad.

Eventually, my son started sleeping through the night, and taking shifts was no longer necessary. I'm not the only one with a story of hope: Self-described new dad and data nerd Reddit user jitney86 shared his personal journey with parental sleep deprivation in the form of a graph after he and his wife meticulously tracked their baby's life in 15 minute increments from three months to 17 months old.

When the data was plotted visually it showed a shift from erratic newborn behavior to more consistent sleep patterns.

“This is so affirming of my own experience as a parent!" another Reddit user replied. “It's anarchy! And you simply have to surrender to the chaos. Then close to around a year they become a normal human, and then [you] return to being a normal human."

Those extended sleep periods—for parents and babies—were also demonstrated in a 2010 study published in the journal Pediatrics, which found babies' sleep habits rapidly improved in the first months of life. The researchers also found that by baby's first birthday, 85% of parents could also celebrate consistently uninterrupted nights of sleep.

That's further proof that sleeping soundly doesn't happen overnight with a new baby in the house—but it will happen.

These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.


Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin


Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

Keep reading Show less
News