It’s best to put a plan together for taking care of night time parenting before baby actually arrives. Even if baby is already here, however, it’s still important (both for baby and for you) to put together some sort of plan regarding how you’re going to deal with night time parenting.
The first thing you should do is to make sure that your expectations are realistic. We don’t care how many of your friends told you that their baby was sleeping through the night from the day they brought her home. Chances are, they were lying to you to try to impress you, as if somehow getting a child to sleep through the night before she’s physically ready to represented good parenting.
Your baby will wake up every two to four hours during the night for the first three or four months of her life. Her little stomach is going to tell her that she needs something to eat that often. Babies have small tummies, and the milk or formula they eat, being liquid, digests very quickly.
If you are breastfeeding, you can expect your baby to wake up closer to every two hours (breast milk digests faster) and if you’re bottle feeding, you can generally expect your baby to wake up closer to every four hours. Be prepared. One thing you should do is take naps during the day to make up for lost sleep, especially if you are breastfeeding.
Agree on who will get the baby. Even if you are breastfeeding, dad can do his part by taking care of the rest of the night time parenting (or at least some of it). After all, when baby gets up to eat, you should also change her diaper, make sure she is warm enough and, if she doesn’t fall back asleep while feeding, help her fall asleep again by rocking or cuddling her.
We would love to tell you that your baby will fall right back to sleep after you take care of her immediate needs (feeding, changing, burping), but you already know by now that it doesn’t always happen that way. The best advice we can give is to be prepared for some sleepless nights. Take turns with your partner doing the parenting. Other than breastfeeding, there are no night time parenting skills which a man can’t pick up just as easily as a woman can.