By Brittney Stefanic
Sure, moms have that special connection with their babies, “mom knows best” and so on. But these premises and sayings shouldn't be excuses for dads to wait for their partners to tell them how to take care of the baby. In this blog, I want to talk about the importance of knowing how to help your baby to sleep when you are a dad. Because yes, there are a couple of tips that are specific for dads, that can definitely help your baby to sleep better!
Nothing says #1 Dad like “I’m the one who knows how to help 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 to a baby is a real challenge!
At the same time, a study published in the International Journal of Behavioural Development showed how fathers who reported more frequent engagements in emotional support with their child, and those who reported evoking the child more often, had children who slept longer at night 1 year later. So, for a dad learning how to help their baby to sleep, being involved in the baby's sleep routine is going to be a great investment for the long term.
Nothing says #1 Dad like “I’m the one who knows how to help our baby to sleep through the night!”
But How Can Dads Help if the 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 “support” props that I come across in this field is feeding to sleep. It’s an easy “trap” to fall into, especially because 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. Time to stop the breastfeeding prop—time for dad to take the lead!
Change Is Hard for the Baby, and Support Is Essential
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? 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 the 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! And since you are seeking advice on getting how to help your baby to sleep, keep reading: we have more tips for you!
How to Help Your Baby to Sleep: Tips for You, Dad of the Year!
Based on what experts say, there are some specific approaches that work better than others when helping your baby to sleep. Here’s a list of best practices that will turn you into a champion of baby sleep:
- If you are taking on the role of “sleep trainer” be sure that you have a plan that you and your spouse agree on. Talk 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 one”. 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 girlfriend, 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 one is complete, be sure that Dad is the one intervening/comforting in the night for at least a few times. 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.
- Learn more about the sleep clothes for babies and don’t underestimate the importance of safe and high quality clothes for your baby’s sleep. Our Zipadee-Zip collection is made with the purpose of helping your baby to sleep comfortably and safely! And if you need a guide, you can check our super useful blog about buying baby clothes online)
- 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!
Practice Is What Is Needed to Learn How to Help Your Baby to Sleep
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. Keep in mind that the priority is to allow the baby to sleep well and familiarize with both the parents when it comes to sleep. Knowing what is best to help your baby sleep is crucial, and all the factors contributing to the goal are decisive. From timing and scheduling of the naps, to a good quality crib and clothes for the baby (you can’t go wrong with the Sleeping Baby Zipadee-Zip line up, If you don’t believe us, look at our happy customers!).
So do your learning, but also 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.
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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