The Art of Tag Teaming The Nighttime Parenting Shift

Taking care of an infant at nighttime is more than enough work for two people. These little bundles of joy need to be tended to at least every four hours, and often more. And nobody should have to do that all alone. At its best, parenting is a team sport. Dealing with the joys and frustrations of a newborn baby goes much more smoothly when you have a game plan to handle it together, each partner pulling their share of the weight.

On average, newborns wake up every two to four hours during the night. By the time your baby is three months old, she will likely sleep for four to five hours at a time, with the length of nighttime sleep gradually lengthening until she is able to sleep through the night. Of course, each baby is different, and some may sleep for longer or shorter periods at any age, and the age at which babies are able to sleep through the night varies significantly. At any rate, new parents can expect several interruptions to their own sleep for the first year or so of baby’s life.

This means, of course, that someone needs to get up to take care of the baby. Depending on what the baby needs or wants, this could take a few minutes, or over an hour. It is important for partners to have open and honest communication with each other during this time. While it might be a good idea to “take turns” taking care of baby’s needs, there will be times when one partner or the other simply isn’t up to it. It’s critical for your relationship, and your own well being (not to mention baby’s) that you both feel free to be honest enough to admit it when you’re too tired, or stressed. Parenting will be more pleasant for both of you if you each go to bed at night knowing your partner has your back when it comes to taking care of the baby at night.

The best time to discuss your feelings is while you’re both awake, and the baby isn’t fussy. If you feel your partner needs to pull more weight, tell him so. But in doing so, remember that the key here is to work as a team. You can make it through this trying time in your lives by drawing closer, communicating honestly, and working together.