Sleep Training... For Dads
Don't get too excited, dad. This is not an article about how to make you sleep more. Nevertheless, when you teach your baby to sleep at night you start getting access back to the mommy. That's definitely a reason to celebrate.
Unfortunately, dads feel left out when babies first arrive since they can't do much to help. The truth is that babies not only depend on their mothers for the first year of life but also prefer the person who carried them in their womb for 9 months. Oftentimes mom is also the primary food source.
Sleep training becomes an option when the baby is about 5 months old. At this point, a night feed is no longer medically necessary, but often still happens.
When Mom is the primary feeding source, it makes it much harder if she is leading the sleep training. Imagine if you were in Vegas at the all-night buffet and were on a diet. It would be tough to hang out there and stay on track, right? Same situation here.
This is why dad is the best candidate to lead sleep training. When milk is out of sight, it's out of mind.
As the dad-in-charge of sleep training, you need to be prepared to take over the ENTIRE bedtime routine. If the baby does bath and evening feed with mom and she subsequently leaves, he WILL be pissed.
If your lady is breastfeeding, make the last feed of the day a bottle. This way your kid will get used to the fact that dad is the one that puts him to bed, and will not miss mom as much.
There are TONS of sleep-training methods, but we will only give you 2 to choose from - one gentle method and one intense-get-it-done-quick method:
1. Ferber - Classic Sleep training
This method has been around for a long time. Your mom may have tried this with you. When something works through the ages it’s a classic and can still be applied today.
The Ferber method was created by Dr. Richard Ferber. The basic mechanics of this baby sleep training method go like this...
Put your baby down in their crib after their nighttime routine.. with YOU. Leave them with their usual soothing tools like music or night lights. Leave the room. If your kid gets pissed go in and comfort them. Things like stroking their cheek and giving them soothing words are good. Then leave the room again.
If they start to cry again repeat the same comfort routine but lengthen the time in between going in. So the first time wait one minute, 2nd time wait 2 minutes, and so on. Repeat this until they fall asleep.
This check-and-console method does take time. You might find yourself going in and out of your baby’s room for up to an hour. But eventually, that time will decrease and your baby will learn to fall asleep.
Why does this work? This method helps your baby learn the skills needed to self-soothe to sleep or fall asleep on their own yet your baby is still reassured throughout the process because you’re still present.
2. Cry-It-Out Method
This is the most intense method, but also the quickest and the most effective. You will have a baby that sleeps through the night within a few days.
Put your baby in the crib and let them cry until they fall asleep — without help from you. That means you won't feed to sleep, rock to sleep, or use any other crutch to get your baby to drift off. This will be difficult.
While it might seem hard to believe, crying it out is most likely much harder on you than it is on your baby.
Why does this work? The goal is simply to teach the baby to fall asleep on his own, outside of your arms. Although babies expect you to be there for them, they actually learn new habits fairly quickly. When they start to realize you are no longer going to be there to help them fall asleep, they adjust.
No matter which sleep training method you choose, the key is to stick to it. You will have a sleeping baby and a happy mommy in no time!