Sharing night-time feedings and duties

Father holding and feeding his baby

Remember that every family is unique and what works for one family may not work for another. Being proactive and communicating about the nighttime responsibilities will make tackling those responsibilities more manageable. Check out What to Do for specific ideas and examples.

What to Do

Communicate and put the plan in writing

Be proactive and have a discussion with your partner before the night comes. Map out a schedule or a plan of execution to help avoid arguments over whose responsibility is what in the night. With a thought-out plan in place, there will be no question as to whose turn it is to wake and tend to your baby’s nighttime needs.

Decide what exactly needs to be done

Be sure everyone who is sharing in nighttime responsibilities knows exactly what those responsibilities are! For some families, this may simply be one nighttime bottle for one child, designated to either a parent or caregiver. Other families may have more complex logistics to consider. For example, a family welcoming their second or subsequent child may have one parent solely responsible for the bedtime routine with the older children, while another parent tends to the newborn. A breastfeeding mother might pump a bottle of breastmilk during the day to be given by another parent at night or one parent may bring the baby when she wakes to her breastfeeding mother and then be in charge of burping and a new diaper. Whatever the scenario for your family, figure out what the nighttime dutiesactually are to help determine who is responsible for them.

Change the plan as needed

As your family grows and changes, update the nighttime plan to always consider each member of the family’s needs. A newborn’s needs in the night will be very different than an infant’s and a toddler’s needs will be different still. Keep a log of daily and nightly feedings and patterns to help with planning, to adjust for changes, and to eliminate the need to wake another parent in the night with questions.