I hate generalising, but in my vast experience as a sleep consultant, there is often one parent who handles most of the night-time responsibilities… and often that person is Mom.
Now, before jumping down my throat labelling me as sexist or promoting stereotyping, I just want to clarify why this is often the case and not just my opinion. When I get called in to support a family’s sleep, it’s not because the parents have found a way of teaming up to navigate sleep or where their child is sleeping like a dream without any external help. Or even better, where the family is all sleeping well.
If that is the case, then the parents are probably looking for someone to translate their child’s dreams for them (which would be so cool if you could, right?)
When parents get in touch with me, it is usually at a point of exhaustion and frustration because their child is not sleeping well. And often, the sleep problem correlates to an external sleep prop being used, and guess what the prop often is?
Mom nursing baby back to sleep!
And this unfortunately, kicks dad out of the sleep equation.
And the most common prop I see, by far, is nursing, which pretty much leaves Dad out of the equation.
Now if this is the issue, and the baby is waking numerous times through the course of the night, mom has to get up and nurse the baby back to sleep. Now it doesn’t sound so bad right? I mean moms do this often. The problem is mom doesn’t get a proper night’s rest, but you won’t believe it but, dad also draws the short end of the stick.
Now I imagine you’re probably thinking how on earth is dad suffering if the mom is waking up at night. Dad gets to snore the night away while mom sits awake trying to nurse the baby back to sleep.
The problem facing the dads is that most dads want to be an active part of their children’s lives from the very start, and they feel great when they can do that. But with mom having the magic syrup of life, dad is almost cancelled out in this regard which leaves him unable to support the sleep process. And while dad may really want to help, he is pretty much useless so what does he do? He goes back to sleep.
This can be a serious issue in a relationship especially in the early days when mom desperately needs the sleep but she sees dad as not trying to help, when we now understand that there isn’t much he can do.
But I have amazing news, this doesn’t need to be this way!!!
If you’ve decided you’ll start to have a baby to sleep independently, you’ll see how dad plays a more active role in the sleep department which is great news for any mom craving an extra bit of uninterrupted sleep.
When you sleep train, the easiest way to sever the sleep association of being nursed to sleep is to get dad involved. With dad involved, the baby is more “willing” to learn how to sleep without having to nurse and often the time taken to unlearn this association is lessened. When dad does the initial night waking responses, baby learns to sleep without mom’s milk and is then able to sleep independently.
And here’s something funny – whenever I share this information with parents after we team up, mom is always the one doing a little internal celebratory dance knowing that her partner will be getting up as well.
But what’s funnier is how mom darts into the room as soon as baby cries on the first night, which often leaves me to send an adult back to their room haha. Or poor dad has to contend with mom directing him from just outside the room and watching his every move making sure he is doing everything right.
When dad starts getting involved, mom needs to realise that just as she has developed her own rhythm with baby, so too will dad and he needs time to do this. And as much as mom says she wants dad to be more involved, it’s often a struggle to loosen the reigns so dad can start taking over.
So, in closing, the problem you’re facing might just need dad’s magic to remedy the sleep struggles you’re facing. But the first step is allowing your partner to take control and develop this very important rhythm of his own.
And don’t worry, most of my clients see a marked improvement in their child’s sleep within the first few nights, so you won’t need to try and control yourself from watching dad like a hawk 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.
And what can you expect after that?
You and your partner will have won your evenings back so you can spend much-needed quality time together while everyone in the family gets the sleep they need and deserve.
So, what are you waiting for mom? Let’s get dad more involved!