The New Dads' Survival Kit
Congratulations! After several hours of grueling labor by your partner, duly aided by your coaching and support, your brand new bundle of joy has finally arrived. Welcome to the world of midnight feedings, sleep deprivation, and huge quantities of diapers!
You have distributed cigars at work and gazed wondrously into your infant's eyes. You have stocked the nursery with books, videos, and classical music tapes. But after a few sleepless nights, calls to the pediatrician, and advice from well-meaning in-laws, it hits you. This thing called parenthood is a lot more difficult than you thought. Luckily, you are not the first parent to struggle through these challenges, you are definitely not alone! The problems and solutions outlined below will provide a great deal of support for you, your partner, and the baby.
Nobody told you that as a new dad you would become the subject in a sleep deprivation experiment. If the mom is breastfeeding, you may find that your little bundle of joy wants to be fed every 2-3 hours; formula-fed babies tend to sleep a bit longer between feedings. Either way, the circles under your eyes are becoming deeper and your patience is wearing thin.
The good news is that the baby will eventually fall into a regular sleep regimen. The bad news, this usually does not happen until he reaches 6-8 months of age. Just when you think you cannot take another sleepless night, your little one will finally adopt a regular sleeping and eating routine.
Here is what you can do to make this stage easier:
- Share the burden of midnight feedings with your spouse. If she is breastfeeding, get the baby up from his crib, change him, and bring him to your spouse. The extra effort on your part will be greatly appreciated.
- Learn to sleep when the baby sleeps. This may be hard at first, but eventually you will be tired enough to sleep whenever you can.
- Do not overindulge in caffeine or other stimulants. When it is time to nap, you do not want to be wide awake from too much coffee, tea, or other foods that contain caffeine (including chocolate!).
- Ask your pediatrician for some suggestions on how to handle all-night feeding sessions. Sleepless nights are a very common dilemma for new parents.
- Do not be afraid to ask for help from friends and relatives. Be specific about what you need. Some relatives may actually make matters worse unless you specifically define your needs. Ask them to prepare meals, clean the house, or watch the baby for an hour or two while you and your spouse take a break.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.