The anticipation of having a new baby joining the family is exciting. Parents can’t wait to get their little one home and start the bonding process. As the days pass, at the risk of generalizing here, it’s been my experience that there’s usually one parent who handles the bulk of the nighttime responsibilities.
And that parent, is usually Mom.
I’m contacted by parents who are having issues getting their babies to sleep, and that’s almost always because baby has an external sleep prop that they use to get back to sleep when they wake in the night.
And one of the most common props I see, is nursing, which pretty much leaves Dad (or non -nursing parent) out of the equation.
Now, this is a problem for a couple of reasons. Obviously, if baby’s waking up six times a night and Mom is going in to nurse her back to sleep, that’s taxing on mom and baby.
But there’s another person who tends to suffer in this scenario, and that’s Dad. It might be hard to imagine, if you’re currently reading this in the middle of the night with a baby stuck to your breast, listening to your partner snoring contentedly from the other room, but it’s true.
Dads, the vast majority of them anyway, want to be great dads. They want to have an active role in bringing up their kids, and they love it when they feel like they’re succeeding in that role.
But because Mom is the one with the magical breast milk, Dad often feels powerless to help out in the sleep department, which means Mom’s up every time baby cries, and Dad, while sympathetic, can’t do much but go back to sleep.
Understandably this can lead to stress for mom who feels like she’s not getting a break and some defensiveness from Dad, who feels this is something he has no control over.
But here’s the good news for both of you…
If you’ve decided to give sleep training a try, it often goes better if Dad takes the lead.
That’s right, Dad’s taking a lead on this one, because Dad doesn’t nurse, and baby knows it. So when it comes to breaking the association between nursing and falling asleep, baby tends to learn quicker and respond better when Dad comes into the room during the first few nights of baby learning to fall asleep independently.
When I present this idea to moms, they more often than not let out a sigh of relief, and can’t quite believe they are going to get some shut eye.
But then, night one, as soon as baby starts to cry, Mom shoots out of bed and goes straight into baby’s room. Or even more regularly, Mom stands in the doorway instructing Dad on the right way to settle Baby back down, and corrects him every step of the way.
If Dad’s going to get involved, him and Baby have to find their own rhythm, and Mom needs to have little to no part in it.
So remember, Dad might just be the magical solution to your baby’s sleep issues, but you’re going to have to let him take over. Take heart though. Most of my clients see dramatic improvements in their baby’s sleep in just a couple of nights, so you won’t have to control yourself for long.
After that, you and your partner will have the evenings back to yourselves, and your whole family can get back to sleeping through the night. Book a call with me today!