It doesn’t take long to figure out that baby doesn’t exactly sleep on your schedule. That’s OK. She shouldn’t. As a matter of fact, if babies sleep through the night before they’re at least three or four months old, it’s not a good thing. Newborns need to eat at least every two to four hours. Anything less than that is unhealthy.
Unfortunately for those of us who only need to eat three meals a day (and a snack here and there…who are we kidding?), the need for eight hours of sound sleep is trumped by the baby’s needs. There really isn’t an easy way to deal with that as a parent. You’re going to lose some sleep, and there’s really no getting around it.
Two are Better than One
The best thing you can do as parents is to tackle night time parenting together. You’re still not going to get eight hours of uninterrupted rest (and probably won’t for a year or more), but you’ll both get more rest if you work together.
If you bottle feed, this is relatively easy (we’re not advocating bottle feeding over breastfeeding, but this is one of the few benefits). You simply take turns waking up to take care of feedings and other nighttime parenting duties.
Working Together When There are Some Jobs He Just Can’t Do
If you breastfeed, this becomes only slightly more difficult. Obviously, dad is limited in what he can do to help with nighttime feeding (he simply doesn’t have the equipment for it). That’s not to say dads can’t help. There’s still plenty dad can do to help mom out. Even if dad doesn’t do anything to help with feedings, though, there are still plenty of nighttime parenting responsibilities he can take care of, including:
- Diaper duty. If she feeds the baby, it’s only fair that he changes the baby, right?
- Rocking. Or rubbing baby’s back. Or singing, swinging, or whatever else helps soothe a fussy baby who has already been fed and changed.
Since most of baby’s waking times (at least during the first few months) are about getting something to eat, a good division of nighttime parenting for breastfeeding families may be to have mom handle the nighttime feedings and dad handle all of the other nighttime parenting needs. In addition to be relatively fair, it’ll give dad lots of time to bind with the baby.