What it’s like to parent a newborn, mapped

A little sleep + a lot of love.
A little sleep + a lot of love.
Image: Reuters/China Daily
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New parents stumbling through the groggy chaos of life with a newborn can get desperate for information that makes sense of the seemingly unpredictable days. When does she tend to nap? What time are his feeds?

A Reddit user and his wife took that impulse to new lengths, meticulously documenting how every 15-minute increment of their daughter’s life was spent between the ages of three months and 17 months. The result is a stunning piece of data visualization that illustrates the arc of early parenthood, as a pattern emerges from the chaotic fog of the first months.

“My wife started collecting data after 3 months because we were going crazy due to the lack of predictability that comes with having a newborn,” a user by the handle of jitney86 wrote in a post earlier this month. “I set up a spreadsheet in numbers/excel so we could open it on our phones and sync. . . .My wife continued to find it helpful so she kept up the record.”›

In this visualization from Reddit user jitney86, a pattern emerges from the chaos—eventually.
In this visualization from Reddit user jitney86, a pattern emerges from the chaos—eventually.
Image: Reddit/jitney86

The schedule documented here is by no means unusual. Newborns tend to sleep 16 to 17 hours each day, in erratic chunks scattered throughout the 24-hour period, interspersed with 10 to 12 daily nursing sessions. By the first birthday, sleep tends to shift to the night, with longer, more consistent naps during the day, though many children continue to wake in the night for far longer (or settle into routines sooner).

The emergence of a consistent pattern in jitney86’s data was inspiring to other readers.

“As a first time dad to a 4 month old, I’m looking forward to that sweet, sweet sleep consistency,” one commenter wrote. “Never has a graph filled me with such hope.”