However badly both parents may want a good night’s sleep, when your newborn is waking every few hours someone has to get up. So how do parents decide who takes the night shift? Circle of Moms members have plenty to say on the topic; from their advice we've rounded up 5 common ways parents divvy up nighttime feedings.
1. One Person...with a Rescue Clause!
Some Circle of Moms members contend that the stay-at-home parent should carry the full burden of nighttime feedings on weekdays so the partner who works outside the house can get a solid night’s rest.
As Ashley V. shared: "My bf was working when we had our first and on the days that he worked I never once expected him to get up with him. Now with our second he's on paternity and I go to school. He does most of the night feeds so I can sleep and be rested for school."
Still, moms like Chelsea emphasized that their partners help out when asked: “At our home it's who's working less (me) who takes over the primary responsibility of feeding, bathing, etc. But it's with the understanding that I ask for help when I need (or want) it for whatever reason.”
2. Week/Weekend Split
Other households with one partner working outside the house divide night shift responsibility based on weekdays and weekends. As Louise G. shared: “When the babies were newborns my husband did the Friday and Saturday night shift and I did the rest. This gave me at least two nights sleep a week and if I was having a particular rough night he would get up as well.”
Several moms did caution however, that if one parent is going to handle every feeding, ensure the household work is balancing out overall. As Elizabeth S. shared: “Instead of getting up at night though he would come home and make dinner EVERY night and do the dishes and a lot of the house work so it really evened out.
3. Alternate Days
Other parents suggest a schedule of alternating days. Erica D. shares: "My husband and I rotate nights so that we can get a full night's rest at least 3 out of 4 nights. We have three children and I have stayed home with them and he knows how much work is involved in being a stay at home."
4. Divide the Night in Half
Many Circle of Moms members disagree with placing the full burden of nighttime feedings on one person. After all, stay-at-home-parents have a full-time day job too, especially when the newborn has older siblings. Divvying up the night shift by feedings assures both parents (in theory) can get sleep for at least a portion of the night.
As Jawaka J. shared: “I would stay up until 1 am which is just a little after his last evening feeding and the baby would wake up at around 4:30-5 am, so my husband would just get up a little early and handle that feeding with pumped milk and take the baby downstairs with him and do his routine and put the baby back to bed if I hadn’t woken up yet.”
And Lydia R. did the reverse: “He would do 7 to midnight when our daughter was up regularly and I would take over at midnight. It just gave me a definite time to have a shower and some sleep.”
Moms like Emily S. found that co-sleeping was a way to eliminate some of the night-shift struggles: “I only work part-time, but one thing that helps me tremendously is co-sleeping. That way neither of us has to fully wake up... when my daughter needs to nurse, I’m right there. Don’t have to get out of bed, and she doesn’t wake much either and goes quickly back to sleep. Big difference from my first child when I insisted he sleep in his crib...I was dead tired all the time from getting up and down all night.” (For more tips on co-sleeping, see Silent Night, Holy Night: Moms Tips for Holiday Co-Sleeping).
Above all, stay on the same team. “Try not to focus on what is 'fair' or 'unfair,'” recommends Monica B., “but rather focus on how each one of you is contributing in a way that maximizes your parenting strengths and minimizes your weaknesses."