The arrival of your little one ushers in a whole new life stage, whether it’s your first baby or you’ve done this before. And as much as this bundle of joy brings sunshine into your life, it also signals a shift in everything else, from your daily schedule to staying connected with your loved ones.
Understandably, it’s quite difficult to get any time away between feedings, diaper changes, constant baby-related errands, and the pure exhaustion that comes with those first few months of parenthood. Even with all these challenges, though, it’s key to make time to recharge and reconnect with your partner. Here’s why date nights are important to keep relationships thriving after your little one makes their debut—and how to make it happen (it’s possible, really!).
What gets in the way of date night?
Finding time to reconnect with loved ones (or with yourself!) while caring for your baby can be quite a difficult balance to strike. Some of the challenges you might find yourself facing in those first few months of parenthood include:
Your new sleep schedule (or lack thereof). New parents are simply too tired to have sex. Studies show that the more times you or a partner head to baby’s crib during the night for feeding, soothing, or checking in, the less likely you are to get in—and stay in—the mood.
Your baby’s in the room. If your baby sleeps in your room, any noise can wake them up, and then the cycle starts again. Not to mention, it’s not uncommon to feel awkward doing anything but sleeping with your baby in the room.
You might be stressed out. Caring for a little one brings stressful financial and emotional challenges. And when you’re worried, your libido takes a hit.
- Your overall health. If you delivered your little one, it can take weeks or months to fully heal. That alone can take a toll on your sex life. And it’s not just the physical recovery—this includes your mental health as well. If you’re feeling anxious— which is not uncommon for new parents—that can get in the way of feeling sexy.
Why is date night important for new parents?
It might be the furthest thing from your mind when your baby needs constant care, but you deserve to spend quality time with your partner, your loved ones, and yes—with yourself.
People want—and need—to feel connected. There’s only so long you can go talking to just your baby or about your baby. You need time to have conversations with adults. Whether that’s with a partner, spouse, family, or friends, carving out time to engage with and connect with others in your peer group can go a long way.
- Kids benefit from seeing mentally healthy, happy adults. Seeing a model of a great relationship can help kids form their own healthy romances as they grow older. Remember: You and your partner had a life before your child, and it’s important for them to see you take care of and love each other, too.
It’s a break from your normal routine. Childcare is all about schedules, and breaking free from that everyday grind—even if it’s just for a few hours—can be a welcome reprieve. And when you’re not running from appointment to naptime to feeding time, you have the mental and physical space to focus on something for you.
- It can relieve stress. While parenthood is rewarding, it’s also exhausting. A break from the stress of raising young kids can do wonders for your mental wellbeing. And when your mental health is in the right place, you can properly focus on your role as a caregiver.
How is a parent’s sex life impacted once the baby arrives?
Needless to say, interrupted sleep can have a profound impact on your sex life. But how that sleep is interrupted, and the kind of impact it has in the bedroom, was not examined in depth until Nanit Lab’s study.
Anecdotally, researchers previously found that some new parents stop having sex for months or even years once their little one arrives. Scientifically, though, much of the existing evidence was connected to other studies on sleep. For example, prior studies recommended that parents only use their beds for sleeping, breastfeeding, and having sex, and to avoid hanging out in bed outside of those contexts. However, this advice (except the breastfeeding part) is generally applicable to anyone, parent or not, struggling to sleep. Before Nanit Lab, no studies existed to trace the direct line from caring for a baby to sleep impact to the effect those had on their sex life.
The Nanit Lab study, which surveyed 900 parents with infants, compared parents’ responses to questions about their sex life with data collected from their Nanit Pro Cameras. Notably, the study found that parents had sex, on average, four times a month, and that frequency of sex increased as baby grew older, up until six months of age.
The study found correlations between not just sleep interruptions, but how that sleep was interrupted. Specifically, the study found that getting up to check on, breastfeed, or console baby was the biggest drag on sleep. The physical act of getting up to do something—not interrupted sleep—is what had the most impact on a parent’s sex life.
11 date night ideas for parents
Sex isn’t always the first thing on a parent’s mind. The Nanit Lab study found that many parents wanted, and even prioritized, nurturing connection with their partner. The study found that 60% of couples that went on dates were more likely to be satisfied with their relationship than those who didn’t. Those who went on monthly dates were 40% more likely to be satisfied with their relationship than those who didn’t. Couples were also twice as likely to be happier when they spent 1 hour or more each day together without their baby.
The evidence is there—go on more dates! But that’s way easier said than done. A date doesn’t need to involve an elaborate vacation on a tropical island (although that sounds lovely right about now). These 11 great romantic date night ideas are attainable and simple for parents to enjoy without a big budget or huge time commitment.
1. Have a special dinner in
More than half of parents—52%, according to our study—have date night at home while your baby is asleep. Ordering in your favorite takeout and eating it together is a low-lift way to reconnect without leaving home. Once the baby is asleep, light a few candles and enjoy a memorable dinner with your partner.
2. Bring the movies to you
After your baby is fed and put to sleep, have a movie night with your loved one. Grab your favorite theater candy, popcorn, and drinks, and kick back.
3. Bring out your creative side
Try a new craft together. This can be anything from painting canvases to trying a new hobby or working on a puzzle. It’s an easy way that lets you let loose without lots of planning beforehand.
4. Create a home spa
Every parent needs to enjoy—and deserves!—some R&R. Feel pampered with a home spa that can help transport you mentally while giving your body a break. Light some candles, do a soak, give each other massages, and see where the night takes you.
5. Enjoy the great outdoors
If you and your partner are the nature-loving types, enjoy an hour exploring near your home without pushing a stroller. “The great outdoors” takes on a new meaning—you can head to a local park with winding paths and tall trees, try a nature trail with breathtaking sights, or even wander a quaint, picturesque downtown nearby. Plus, there are tremendous mental benefits to experiencing nature that can help you refresh mentally.
6. Break out the board games
Engage in a little friendly competition with a one-on-one game night. Once the baby is asleep, take your favorite board games out of the storage closet and tap into games that help you both let off some steam. Coupled with your favorite drink and a snack plate, this easy date night creates a child-free space where you and your partner can play and be silly.
7. Go for a walk
It’s simple, yet effective. Walking is strongly linked to lowering stress and elevating your mood — not to mention, a nice stroll guarantees you’ll get out of the house. The fresh breeze and sunshine will be an instant mood-booster, and when you bring your partner along, you get to spend it talking with your favorite person. Even if it’s just for a half an hour, this “date moment” can help both of you decompress and reconnect.
8. Head to the gym together
Working out may not sound like relaxation, but for many couples, returning to the gym can be a welcome reminder of their routine before baby arrived. If you and your partner love to sweat it out, plan a time when you both can go together. Better yet, some gyms offer daycare so you can drop off your baby while you and your partner focus on a good workout.
9. Create a picnic outside
If the weather is nice, sneak away for lunch with your partner. Pack a large blanket and basket filled with your favorite to-go foods, from sandwiches to grapes and brownies. The warm sunshine and quality time are a great way to destress from the hectic day to day, while offering the perfect backdrop to bond with one another. If a picnic sounds like too much prep, you can eat outside if you have a backyard, or enjoy some takeout that takes the prep out of the picnic fun.
10. Binge watch your favorite show
Enjoying TV together is one of the most popular ways couples in our Nanit Lab survey spent time together without their baby. Once your baby goes to sleep, catch up on the latest episodes of your fave show or start a hit series that friends and family have been talking about for ages. It’s low stakes and even easier to actually make happen.
11. Get a nice hotel room close by
You don’t need a tropical getaway or an exotic destination to feel like you’re on vacation. Look for boutique hotels nearby for a quick getaway that feels worlds away from home. Without the distractions of feedings, naptime, and bathtime, you can focus on one another without sacrificing any of the comforts of your own space. There’s no airfare to buy—just you, your partner, and your favorite creature comforts.
How do you know you're ready to be away from your baby?
After caring for your baby around the clock since their arrival, it can feel strange to do pretty much anything without them. Whether you’re away for an hour, the day, or overnight, leaving can create a lot of guilt. It’s completely normal to feel this way or to even feel anxious about it, but remember: You can’t stay at home (or neglect your own needs) forever without paying a price. On average, parents with partners don’t go out on a date until their baby is three months old, but you’ll be ready to go on your own time.
To ease your mind, there are a few things you can do to get ready for your first time away.
Practice being apart. Take this a few minutes at a time. Start by going into another room or stepping outside for a brief moment, and work your way up to longer time periods. This helps your baby adjust to different adults in the room—and helps you get more comfortable with leaving, too.
Take it slow. Don’t think about time away from your baby as an on/off switch. This is a gradual process, which means this isn’t the time to head out on a solo week-long tropical getaway (not like you’re thinking about any of that right now). Pick and choose your time away wisely, and introduce being apart slowly and strategically.
Develop a goodbye ritual. A special goodbye can help reassure you that you’ve done all you can to prepare your baby for any kind of time away. Even if they’re too young to notice you’re gone — it takes a few months for babies to realize when you’ve left them—remember this ritual is for you. As they grow, you can add more to the special goodbye, like telling them when you’ll be back (and sticking with that timeline).
- Keep in touch. It’s OK to touch base with your baby’s caregiver while you’re gone. Tools like your Nanit app and monitor can give you that visual reassurance that your baby is content without you being there.
The bottom line
Becoming a parent is one of the most exciting times of your life, but it doesn’t come without significant changes to your everyday life, including your relationship if you’re in one. Date night doesn’t have to look like it did before your baby arrived. What matters––according to science!—is that you’re carving out time to reconnect with others. So you can leave the high heels in your closet and stay snuggled in your most comfortable pajamas. As long as it’s time spent with your loved ones without your baby, that’s what matters most for a parent’s mental health.