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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.

“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.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

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Products that solve your biggest breastfeeding challenges

Including a battle plan for clogged ducts!

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

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This viral post about the 4th trimester is exactly what new mamas need right now

"We are alone. Together. You are surrounded all the other mothers who are navigating this tender time in isolation. You are held by all of us who have walked the path before you and who know how much you must be hurting. You are wrapped in the warm embrace of mama earth, as she too settles into this time of slowness and healing."

Artist and teacher Catie Atkinson at Spirit y Sol recently shared a beautiful drawing of a new mom crying on a couch—leaking breasts, newborn baby, pile of laundry and what we can only assume is cold coffee, included. Everything about the image is so real and raw to me—from the soft stomach to the nursing bra and the juxtaposition of the happy wallpaper to the palpable vulnerability of the mother—I can almost feel the couch underneath me. I can feel the exhaustion deep in this woman's bones.

My heart feels the ache of loneliness right alongside hers. Because I remember. I remember the confusion and uncertainty and love and messy beauty of the fourth trimester so well. After all, it's etched in our minds and bodies forever.

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