by Brittney Stefanic
With Father’s Day quickly approaching, I wanted to create a post especially for DADS!
And nothing says #1 Dad quite like “I’m the PRO who taught our baby to sleep through the night”. Maybe we should even make some mugs for this special bragging right. It’s a big ego booster, as it should be, since teaching the skill of independent sleep is no easy task!
But wait, how can Dad help if baby is breastfed?
When a baby (or toddler) is dependent on any one sleep prop to fall into a deep state of rest, it will be tough to teach them how to sleep without this prop. One of the most common sleep props I come across in this field is feeding to sleep. It’s an easy “trap” to fall into, especially when it works!
As soon as you are ready to remove this feed to sleep association, I HIGHLY recommend that the non-feeding parent steps in and takes one for the team. Breastfeeding prop? EVEN BETTER for Dad to take the lead.
Change is hard, and support is important
Not only will it be less confusing for your little one if the non-feeding parent is the one who intervenes in the night to comfort them, but it will also be easier on Mom! Why? Well, we all know there is a biological response that triggers a milk “let down” upon hearing our baby cry. As a result, it is a heck of a lot harder for Mom to be in baby’s room comforting them at 2 am because she feels an innate need to “solve” the problem by offering a feed.
I am not saying that feeding to sleep is wrong or a mommy “no no”, but if you are reading this, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that the feeding to sleep habit that you are currently in is no longer working for you.
Support (for baby and Mom) is very important, and you are the man for the job! Lucky you! Don’t worry – at the end of the process, you get bragging rights for life!
And since you are seeking advice on getting how the heck to do this, let’s jump straight into Sleep Training Tips for Dad.
Tips for you, Dad of the year:
- If you are taking on the roll of “sleep trainer” be sure that you have a plan that you and your spouse agree on. Take to Pinterest, Google or a sleep consultant expert to find something that feels like a good fit for your family. It is quite a lot easier to follow through in the middle of the night if you actually know what you need to do.
- When you decide to start, bedtime itself is the time to begin. This means that Dad should actively participate in the bedtime routine and be sure that the little one is NOT being fed to sleep at bedtime.
- Give Mom something else to focus on during bedtime on night 1. Since your little one is learning a new skill, the first few nights will be the hardest (you know… practice makes perfect), so it will be a good idea to get Mom out of the nursery, or even out of the house with something else to focus on. A few of my favorite ideas are – dinner with a girl friend, sharing a glass of wine with a neighbor, heading to a movie or hitting up the mall (or Target) for a quick solo trip out!
- Once bedtime night 1 is complete, be sure that Dad is the one intervening/comforting in the night for at least a few nights. This task won’t ALWAYS be a “Dad task”, but until babe learns the skill, it is best to stay consistent on letting Dad do the wake-ups.
- Give lots of time the next morning for cuddles as a whole family. Sleep training can be an emotional experience for everyone involved, so it is important to set some time aside during the process to snuggle, read books, get some fresh air and most importantly, BE TOGETHER!
Remember, practice makes perfect
As with anything in life, teaching a skill takes time. Don’t get frustrated with yourself or your partner if you are two or three days into the process and feeling a bit defeated. Change is hard!
Now, that being said, a “sleep teaching” plan that is a great fit for your family should start yielding results within about four nights. So, if you are past that point, reach out for a little help. We certainly don’t want this process to be drawn out forever. Heck – Dad has some grilling to do, golf games to play and Dad Jokes to tell.
***Make sure to nominate your Father of the year by entering the Sleeping Baby Father's Day giveaway here for the chance to win a grill valued at $150 and a $50 Sleeping Baby gift card- something for everyone!***
Brittney Stefanic is a whole-family certified sleep consultant. She loves working with #1 dads (and moms, too) to take families from frustrated and sleep-deprived to well-rested and revived. As an educator, she believes in the power of teaching and loves to support families in meeting their sleep goals through her customized sleep plans. You can follow her on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook @brittneystefanicsleep for access to her free sleep tips and tricks and opportunities for sleep Q&A sessions.
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