New baby parent sleep plan

My wife and I are expecting to have a new girl in March. I hear babies wake every two hours or so, leading to parent sleep deprivation.

My hours are somewhat flexible, as I am self employed.

Is there a good schedule that will allow us to avoid the worst of it?

I was thinking my wife can sleep maybe from 8 pm to 4 am, leaving for work around 7 am, and I could sleep from 1 am to 9 am. I haven’t thought this through yet.

Any good ideas?

Newsflash: every baby is different.

The 2h schedule holds (for those babies for which it does) for a relatively short time. By the time the kid is 1-2 months old you’ll be sleep deprived but she’ll be sleeping at a different rythm. I was howling with hunger every 3 hours, the Niece same, the Nephew just seemed to reckon that “if you’re awake you should eat,” their future Proud Daddy got hungry every four hours, the future Proud Uncle was irregular, all at the same age.

Also, some parents (first time parents more, mothers more) are liable to wake up every time the baby moves. I’ve seen more than a brand new parent who was the one not letting the baby sleep, because “she made noise!” (that was a burp, babies burp a lot, it’s not deadly!).

My advice from what I’ve seen and what I remember of my brother’s babyhood is see if you can learn to sleep “like a soldier, any time it’s possible to do so, for as long as it’s possible to do so.”

First teach your baby to sleep like this.

Only change your schedules as a last resort. It will fuck up your lives more than you can imagine.

Like Bearflag, I’m expecting my first baby in March as well, and, likewise, am worried about the whole sleep thing. Oh, and the breastfeeding thing too - that one falls on my shoulders (or thereabouts ;)).

I’d be interested in any info too - can anyone recommend some good books or websites that have helped them with either of these things? There’s tons of information out there and for a newbie like me, I just don’t know where to start.

Echoing that every baby is different - it’s early days, but Baby From Mars is now 9 weeks, and has been sleeping from around 9-5 every night since 5-6 weeks, and before that would only require one feed in the night from a week or so.

I’ve been breastfeeding on demand, and she’s set her own schedule, which has worked out well for both me and her dad - he’s not woken a single night since she was born (although a factor is that he is a heavy sleeper!).

But in the early days, expect very broken sleep - the best advice I got was sleep whenever the baby does, and don’t use that time to catch up. You have no idea what the baby will do in the future, so bank sleep, don’t think you’ll be able to catch up.

Should you want to put her on a schedule, other friends have reported success with ‘Save our Sleep’ - although I have to say we tried it for a day at 2 weeks, and she and I were both so ragged at the end of the day that I chucked it in, and we’ve both been happy ever since. Have you ever tried to wake and feed a baby that wasn’t interested? Bloody hard! But def works for others, you’ll have to wait and see what you get.

In terms of breastfeeding, I found Dr Jack Newman’s site very useful - down to earth info and videos showing correct latching. I also got adopted by a great lactation consultant from my ob’s office, and she was very much ‘whatever works for you’ about both feeding and sleep.

Dispite feeding successfully from minutes after birth to discharge from hospital, I had tremendous difficulty latching her on once my milk came in, and I got terribly engorged - she literally couldn’t get her mouth on, dispite an hour of my mother and I squeezing my nipple into all sorts of shapes to get it in her mouth. The saving grace was these nipple shields from Avent, which got us through those rough couple of weeks until we could learn/cope with feeding without (I had no idea how much towelling myself off after a shower could hurt!).

I know, everyone and his dog recommends against shields, but for me it was a matter of use them or not breastfeed - and my lac consultant backed me up on this, and I’ll love her forever for it. Feeding is great now, and I never thought I’d say that!

Thanks for the advice and suggestions, GfMs - I’m glad to hear that thing seem to be going fairly smoothly for you so far (hope I haven’t jinxed it!).

If your wife is going to be breastfeeding, there’s kind of no way around her having to wake up when the baby needs food. You may find it’s best for at least one of you to just get a good decent night’s sleep, and be the functional one the next day.

The good news is, lots of newborns do naturally have a “long sleep” time of 6-9 hours per day. With my kids it tended to be 7pm to 1am. The bad news is it may not be compatible with either of your natural sleep times (stuffed if I can get to sleep at 7 in the evening) and also some babies “grow out of” that, and have to relearn how to sleep all night at 6 or 12 or 18 months.

The really important thing about newborns is they change what they’re doing really really quickly, often literally overnight, so you need flexibility. LOTS of flexibility!

Congratulations too BTW! Babies are hard work, but they get more fun as you go along :slight_smile:

(nice to hear Baby from Mars is doing well too…)

We’ve got a 7 month old girl (our only child FTM) and I second what others have said about all babies being different. Try not to plan a routine just yet because their patterns change so rapidly (alot of the time for no discernible reason) that you just have to roll with the punches. As far as books/dvds etc go, I strongly recommend The Happiest Baby on the Block as it helped immensely for the first 3 months or so which Dr Harvey Karp refers to as the ‘4th’ tri-mester. I haven’t read the book (my wife has) but I have watched the video and the steps are very easy to remember and follow.

Another product recommendation to make life easier is to get a couple of Miracle Blankets. You might find ones that are similar and or cheaper, but from personal experience we found them invaluable.

My last bit of advice (for guys), if possible, stay over at the hospital with your partner and the newborn until it’s time to come home. Those first few days are the most amazing and draining of all and two people will really share the load. Plus, it’s amazing (I know I’ve mentioned that), but it truly is the best thing in the world to get to know them as much as possible in those first few days.

When my kids were little I learned to sleep on a dime. They say after the army you can learn to sleep anywhere and grab it when you can. I suspect a lot of people have a similar experience with babies. I napped a lot with my daughter.

As was said, if your wife chooses to breastfeed, you can’t help with sleep too much. If you choose to bottlefeed the biggest help would have been my husband not needing my elbow in his side to wake up - by that time I was awake already. As is common (but not universal) I developed “Super Mommy Sense” which would wake me up if the baby let a light cough go from 20 miles away. (I’m exaggerating…but there is truth there), while he was able to sleep until three to five minutes of crying had passed.

They are all different. And too much planning with kids just makes you frustrated when baby doesn’t cooperate with your plans.

Best baby advise.

Relax and go with the flow and learn to wrap your baby up like a burrito.

The people who I have known to be the most well-rested with newborns are those that bedshare. Despite authorities’ reluctance to authorize bedsharing (probably on the assumption that people are too stupid to do it safely), many people make the adjustments needed for safe cosleeping and sleep the better for it.

Since sleeping in the same room as parents reduces an infant’s risk of SIDS by 50%, it’s worth considering at least keeping the baby in your room. This also reduces the degree to which you need to wake up to care for him, regardless.

To a certain degree, you’re just going to be tired for a few weeks. New babies need round the clock care, regardless of how they are fed or what “system” you try to make them sleep for longer periods.

And BTW, there is little to no research on sleep training interventions. So there is little evidence demonstrating that they are safe. And pretty much any sane source (i.e., not Ezzo) agrees that newborns should never be left to cry. (That said, when our baby was about six months old and waking every 1.5 hours all night, we did a Ferber-esque approach, just so you know I’m not a zealot on this!)

When our daughters got to the point of sleeping for 3-4 hours at some point overnight, my husband would make sure I got to sleep for at least that long in a block, and that, along with napping when the baby did, is what saved my sanity. It really helps to have a guaranteed time you’ll be able to sleep, when your partner will take care of everything, and you don’t hear a thing!

Later, at times when there were sleep regressions, we did do the shift idea you mention. One person would go to sleep early while the other had baby duty, then duty would shift to the other person, while the original caretaker would get to sleep in a bit.

My husband used to work the midnight shift, and after we had our son he continued to keep the same sleep patterns that he was used to. He was able to take six weeks off of work (gotta love the family leave act) and we didn’t suffer from lack of sleep. He took care of our little guy from midnight to 8 am and I took over from 8 am to 4 pm. Shift work! It worked out very well in our case. During the late afternoon and evening we shared the responsibility. After he returned to work I took over more of the responsibility because I stayed home to care for our son until he was 10 months old.

After we created that schedule, there were very few arguments about who did what when and I didn’t suffer from post-partum depression the way I did when we had our daughter. Unfortunately my husband was only allowed two weeks of vacation time when she was born and we were both very sleep deprived.

I like your idea of taking turns. It worked for our family.

I was thinking my wife can sleep maybe from 8 pm to 4 am, leaving for work around 7 am, and I could sleep from 1 am to 9 am. I haven’t thought this through yet. These hours don’t make sense to me. From 1 am to 9 am, who will take care of the baby if you’re asleep? According to this schedule your wife will be either sleeping, getting ready for work, or working. Also, is she really going to be able to fall asleep at 8 pm? It sounds like she would still feel sleep deprived. And, why would she wake up at 4 am when she doesn’t have to be at work until 7 am? Would she be watching the baby at that time or does she have a long commute?

We’re also expecting in March, but this isn’t my first proverbial rodeo. The one thing I’ve learned about babies? Don’t plan. Anyone who claims to be an expert on practically any day-to-day matter regarding babies has probably raised exactly one child and hasn’t learned that every child, parent, and situation is different. Do what works for you, learn to improvise, and plan to ignore lots of people who know exactly what you ought to be doing.

(For the record, I co-slept with my two younger ones, after being terrified about doing that with the oldest. Worked fine, no problems, much easier for me since I breastfed and neither would take a bottle of anything, ever - including expressed breast milk - for any reason. I won’t likely co-sleep with this latest one, though, for a couple of reasons: Mr. Matata is a big guy and a restless sleeper, so it’s less safe for the baby; my husband’s job requires that he work rotating 12-hour shifts and remain alert, so his quality of sleep and on-the-job safety would be compromised by that much adjustment; and this is his first child, so he’s a lot less relaxed than I am about just “winging it” where the baby’s concerned. I’ll probably keep the baby in a bassinet in our bedroom for those first few months, instead.)

Our kids were breastfed, but one way I helped out was to change diapers, bring the baby to my wife in bed and soothe back to sleep if needed. I am a fairly heavy sleeper, so my wife often had to wake me up (and she sometimes chose not to), but I figured it was the least I could do to pitch in since I got a “break” by going to work for 8 hours a day.

Also, during the first few weeks especially, make sure you both take turns to get out of the house. A few minutes walking the dog or a trip to the grocery store helped my wife get over the cabin fever of being with the kid 24/7.

After a couple of weeks, we were surprised at how “easy” it was to go out to eat/run errands while the baby slept in an infant carrier. This only lasts a few months, however, and does NOT apply when you have both an infant AND a toddler!

No plan survives contact with the enemy.

Babies change so fast that any plan will need to be modified continually so plan to be flexible, plan time together (important) and don’t listen to all the horror stories everyone tells.

Babies are funny, they will do what they want, and then change their minds.
For the first few weeks as my daughter was learning night from day, we had a bassinette in the bedroom. She woke up every 2 hours or so and my husband and I would alternate. I would feed her then the next time she woke up Husband would comfort her. She figured out the whole night thing in about a week.

At about two weeks she stopped crying at night. She grunts when she is hungry. It’s great for my husband since he can sleep right through it not so great for me since it guarentees that I will have to wake up to deal with her no matter what. From about two months to four months she slept 8 hours in a row. I would put her to bed about 8:00, feed her at 12:00 and she would sleep until 7:00 or 8:00. I couldn’t believe my luck. But it didn’t last. For the past month or so she is back on the waking up to eat every four hours or so.

Make a plan, have a back-up plan, and then when the baby arrives scrap everything and do whatever works for your family.

Oh, second this - I heard about him on a podcast, and the settling technique where they are swaddled, placed on their side and jiggled (google the videos to see examples)
was amazing, got her to settle down where nothing else would.

My son was a cosleeper (he was adopted from Korea where cosleeping is common.)

My daughter never coslept well. And having her in the same room didn’t work since my super mommy sense woke me up with every whimper or change to breathing.

She, at a very young age, could take up more room in a bed and flop around more than a full grown adult and a dog - while she’s been in our bed many a time due to bad dreams, it isn’t a good situation for us being able to sleep.

Don’t over plan since your child will likely not cooperate. The first few weeks were pretty rough. We were both exhausted. We fell into a schedule of I would feed the baby between 10-2 and my wife would feed him around 6. We even slept in different rooms. We set up a crib in the living room and he would sleep there with me so his mom could get at least four hours of solid sleep without his every noise waking her up.

Once he was three months, we moved him into his own room so his every grunt wouldn’t wake us up.