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10 Ways to Help Your Relationship Survive Baby's Sleepless Nights

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A newborn's erratic sleep patterns can make for tired, irritable, and impatient parents. It's tempting to take out your exhaustion on your partner, but it's essential you treat each other well. This takes planning. Here's how to get through those sleepless months with your relationship intact.

Make a Plan Early

a dad holding his newborn baby with his wife

The middle of the night, when the baby's wailing and you're groggy is not the time to get into a discussion about whether you're willing to try cry-it-out or if you're going to start being a co-sleeping family. Discuss your feeding-diapering-and-soothing plan with your partner before you hit the hay—preferably when you're both well-rested—to make sure you're on the same page. Then stick to the plan.

Take Turns

a dad bottle feeding his baby

Try to balance the agony of repeated wake-ups by taking turns caring for your newborn. It's not easy if you're a nursing mom, but whenever possible let your partner do some of the soothing and rocking so you can get some rest. Establish a nonverbal sign—maybe it's a tap on the hip—to let your partner know that this time it's a no-breasts-required session.

Be Understanding of Schedules

lots of clocks standing together

Your baby doesn't care that your partner has to be up and out of the house by 5 a.m., but you should. Take your schedules into consideration when you discuss who's getting up when and where the baby will be sleeping when.

Support Napping

a couple sleeping in their bed

New parents need to sleep whenever they can. Be adamant that your partner take a nap whenever possible, and do the same with yourself. Ideally, one partner should take the baby out of the house so the other can truly rest.

Don't Keep Score

a young couple having an argument

In every relationship, one person is going to be getting up with the baby more frequently. The key is to not keep score and let resentment build as a result. Remember: You're both working crazy hard right now, in different ways.

Cut Each Other Some Slack

a dad covered in toys while lying next to his kids on a couch

You're exhausted and in the middle of a major life change. Sometimes your partner will make mistakes, forget things, or otherwise do things that make you crazy. Rather than losing it in annoyance, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you're both tired and it's not such a big deal. Now's the time to curb the criticism, nitpicking, and nagging.

Keep Them in the Know

two young parents looking at their newborn baby

Share new trends and developments in your baby's sleep and eating patterns so your partner is up-to-date about what's going on; take notes or consider syncing a baby care app to both of your phones to keep records of what time your little one last ate, pooped, and napped. It benefits everyone to know that your baby likes to be swaddled with his arms out or that you thought you saw a tiny tooth erupting up top. The more you both know about your baby's personal preferences, the better off everyone will be.

Have Faith

a dad holding his newborn baby

If you've agreed that your partner is taking this round of feeding-and-soothing, don't undermine it by swooping in the moment it seems like it's not going well. Instead of helping, you're saying that you don't have confidence in your partner's abilities.

Go Separate

a woman sleeping in a bed

There's no reason to not sleep in separate rooms if that's what it takes to let at least one person get a good night's sleep. If you want the baby with you and he's fussy, encourage your partner to move to the couch or guest room to get some zzz's. Sleeping separately when your baby is young isn't a sign that your relationship is crumbling or that you'll never sleep together again. It's a sign that you have a new baby, and you're doing whatever it takes to help everybody get through those challenging first months.

Remember This is Not Forever

a mom and dad looking at their newborn baby

When you're exhausted and the baby's been crying for hours, it will feel like this will never pass, and you might be tempted to lash out at your partner in frustration. A better thing to do is to remember that these sleepless nights will soon be just a memory. Your little one will get older and sleep better. As crazy as it sounds, try to embrace these baby days (and nights), and give your partner a hug instead of a scowl whenever possible.

 
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