As a new mom, I totally thought I could do it all. In fact, I was unwavering in my determination to keep the house together, make dinner, and spend every waking moment with my daughter, all while furnishing the apartment we'd moved into right before my daughter arrived and with no help. Turns out, I couldn't do it all, and it became crystal clear when I realized newborn was trying to tell me I needed sleep me. Like, all the damn sleep.
Babies know things, don't they? They pick up on so much more than brand new, sleep deprived, exhausted parents give them credit for. In fact, and at least in my experience, it takes us a while to realize that while a baby does nothing but sleep, poop, eat, and sleep all day, they're picking up what you're putting down regularly. They're always watching, those sneaky babies.
So, sure, I guess you could argue I was so tired I could have been hallucinating, but I'm positive my newborn daughter started sending me little signals that were essentially urging me to slow down, reassess, and take a much-needed break. For example, she started preferring my partner over me, and would miraculously enjoy extra-long naps when I needed her to the most. I'm convinced she's not alone in her baby wisdom, either. So, if you're a brand new parent trying to do it all on zero sleep, pay close attention to your newborn and the signs they're trying to get you to notice. Chances are, they want you to sleep just as badly as you do.
Your Baby Takes An Extra-Long Nap
There has been a handful of miraculous times my short-napper has decided to enjoy an extra long nap on just the perfect day. For example, those days when I think I won't be able to make it through lunchtime without my face falling into a plate of whatever it is I'm eating? Yeah, those are the days when I think I really won't make it, only to have my daughter take a long nap that effectively tells me to get some damn sleep.
Your Baby Prefers Your Partner
I think my daughter knows when I'm not firing on all cylinders and, as a result, shifts her preference to her father for my benefit. So nice of her, isn't it? The majority of the time she clings to me like a baby monkey, but when she knows I've hit the end of my rope, she jumps ship.
Your Baby Refuses A Bottle
My daughter has refused my poorly made bottles in the past. You know, the ones where I put only one scoop of formula in an 8-ounce bottle because I'm too tired to remember how many scoops I've put in. That's when I know I really need a nap.
Your Baby Actually Sleeps Through The Night
If your baby actually sleeps through the night, consider it a reminder that, yes, you will one day feel rested again. This is that magical ray of hope — that small sign of sleep-filled days to come — all newborns send their parents when they need it most. So, if your baby snags a full eight hours of rest, you should absolutely be doing the same.
Your Baby Falls Asleep Quickly
Remember those really early days of parenthood, when you would bounce and bounce the baby for hours on end trying to get him or her to go to and stay asleep? Yeah, those are exhausting. Like you have any extra energy to give a baby you're begging to fall asleep in the first place, right?
So, if your baby falls asleep quickly, without the bouncing and the swaying and the shushing, consider it a reprieve. They're onto you, and want you to fall asleep just as quickly so you can collect your sanity before resuming your routine all over again.
Your Baby Is Happy To Chill In The Bouncy Seat
You might not get a full-on nap while your baby's still awake, because babies. But when your newborn doesn't need you to hold them every single minute of every single day, and you can actually put them in the bouncy seat for a little while, you can almost sleep with your eyes open.
Your Baby Cries Until You Put Them Down
This actually happened to me. My daughter had, apparently, had enough of my frantic bouncing and incoherent baby talk, so she just cried until I finally put her in the crib and left her alone. Now, she didn't want that every time, but thank goodness for the moments she did.
Your Baby Falls Asleep In The Car Seat
Not only does your baby fall asleep in their seat, but they'll gladly stay there and happily snoozing for hours on end. I was always a little petrified when my daughter spent too much time in her car seat (we have a very pleasant but slightly alarmist pediatrician), but there were a few times I was so grateful that she just knocked out in her car seat and let me nap for 20 minutes once we made it home.