So often when I am meeting with new families, I need to spend a long time making sure I connect with the father.
Why? Because he hasn’t been getting up at night for the past 8 months and therefore doesn’t see that there’s a sleep issue? Or because he’s scared sleep training will mean he has to all of a sudden become involved in settling his child? In these cases I don’t believe it’s because he doesn’t want to be involved, I think it’s the opposite. I think he desperately WANTS to be involved but doesn’t know how.
This misunderstanding or miss communication between couples is often the reason there is a sleep issue to begin with. Constant sleepless nights breed resentment between couples that secretly blame the other one for the issues they are having.
If you are experiencing this at the moment with your partner, what are some practical ways you can start to get him involved in your baby’s routine?
- If your baby is exclusively breastfed sometimes it’s hard for your partner to be involved in the feeding process. If later down the track you are both happy to introduce a bottle in to your routine either of breast milk or formula this can be the perfect time for him to help out. For many couples the dream feed is a good place to start. This entitles Dad to have a set responsibility each night to get up/stay awake in order to feed your new baby. It is also a nice intimate time of the night where true bonding can occur.
- If you are lucky enough to have a partner that comes home from work at an early hour, it is a nice idea to give him the role of bath time. Most babies love bath time and find it very relaxing and this is often a very tiring time of the day for you, so giving him this role can benefit everyone. Just ensure that you are not waiting too long to give your baby a bath each night and compromising their bedtime hour.
- Set time on the weekend for your partner to take your baby for a walk without you. If you are the one staying at home with your baby it’s really important that you give them time to bond. Give them a chance to form their own special and unique relationship and use this as a time where you can have an hour or 2 off.
- Be aware that even though you may have different parenting styles, it doesn’t mean one is better than the other. Often when you are new parents it is evident how different your parenting styles are. One of you may be more routine oriented and the other may be less structured but your baby will benefit from having a well-rounded experience and there’s no reason why you can’t incorporate both to create a happy and healthy lifestyle for your baby.
- Make sure you give your partner a chance to learn how to settle your baby. Maybe at first it doesn’t bother you that you are the only one who knows how to settle your baby, but down the track this may tire you out if you are the only one who can put your baby to sleep. Your partner will feel more included and confident as a father if he also knows how to settle your baby and you will feel more relieved as a result because it will mean you also have a chance to have a break when you need to.
- Encourage your partner to take your baby to some of the classes you have signed up for. Whether it’s baby yoga or swimming it’s a great chance for them to bond, and also for them to potentially meet other dads, which is a really helpful support network especially for first timers.
- Send your partner to the pharmacy to buy baby products. This may seem like a silly point but teaching him the ins and outs of what your baby needs from the type of formula or size of nappies also gives him a sense of involvement. It will allow both of you to share the responsibilities of parenthood by jointly caring for your baby’s needs.
If you have just brought home a new baby, check out our previous article on our top tips for bringing home a newborn.