Wondering whether dads should help with the baby, even if he works and you stay at home? See 3 compelling reasons why dads should wake up for night feeds.
The middle of the night wake ups were the worst.
The constant crying, the inability to soothe the baby back to sleep, scrambling to zip those pajamas, all while the baby was shrieking. Add to that several more minutes of breastfeeding and burping—it’s enough to dread those wails and cries that jolt you awake at night.
Sleep deprivation during the newborn months, already the challenge that it is, brought out the worst in me during nighttime feedings. It was the time of the day (or night) when I least enjoyed being a mom.
The one thing that kept me sane? My husband shouldered half of those duties.
He was the one who’d get out of bed when the baby cried and changed his diapers. The one who’d hand the baby to me to breastfeed, just so I wouldn’t have to get out of bed myself. The one I’d hand the baby to for burping after each session, and put him back down in the crib. And when the baby was inconsolable, he was up right alongside me, either soothing him to sleep or researching tips online to calm him down.
All while he had to wake up the next day to go to work.
Now, when we were both out on leave, the decision for him to wake up at nights was a no-brainer. After all, we’d both be home the next day doing nearly the same tasks.
But with him returning to work before I did, I was more than grateful that he continued to wake up in the middle of the nights with me.
Why dads should wake up for night feeds
With work the next day, many dads have tasks that are more difficult to manage when sleep-deprived. Meanwhile, moms are home with the baby, with no time-specific duties or even people to interact with (heck, we wouldn’t even need to get dressed).
Despite these circumstances, both mom and dad benefit when they both wake up to tend to the baby throughout the night, in one way or another.
Read below or watch this video to learn why:
1. You develop a deeper sense of teamwork
Sometimes you just can’t do it all yourself. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation can take a toll, both physically and mentally. But having your partner’s support and a sense of teamwork can work wonders for your morale.
You see, as much as I wanted to stay motivated to keep breastfeeding, I still didn’t like that I was the only one that could do so. Staying awake for several minutes at a time, all throughout the day and night, left me with little freedom.
Knowing this, my husband pitched in in ways he could, so that whatever burdens cropped up didn’t always fall on me. For instance, since I was the only one who could breastfeed, he changed diapers, swaddled and burped the baby, and during the day, prepared meals and snacks.
We were working as a team, doing what we can. Every little bit truly helped, if only to make night duty feel less isolating.
Free resource: Do you struggle with getting your newborn to sleep? His awake time just might be affecting how well he sleeps or not. Get my handout—at no cost to you—and discover one mistake you may be making with your baby’s awake time.
Don’t make the same mistakes I did—help your baby fall asleep with this one simple trick! Download it below. You’ll also get my newsletters, which parents say they LOVE:
“Keep sending the emails. It really helps. I never knew being a mother would be so demanding. Knowing that I’m not the only mother in the world that struggles sometimes.” -Alisha
2. Staying home with the baby is hard work
It’s easy for stay-at-home parents to feel unappreciated because they’re “just at home.”
And I get it. One of the biggest reasons husbands don’t help with the baby at night is because they work the next day. They need to be at work by a certain time while mom stays home with the baby (and could potentially rest at home).
Or perhaps the baby cries with dad at night, leaving both of you feeling defeated and even more sleep-deprived, instead of bonded over a common mission. Or maybe you’re simply arguing over night feeds so much, you’ve decided to take the task on your own.
Still, I’m sure we can all agree that caring for a baby can be much harder than paid work. It’s no joke when they say parenting can be one of the most difficult and stressful responsibilities. Parenting—even if unpaid—is still a job.
For dad to be able to sleep through the night signals that his job is more important than mom’s, which may not be necessarily true.
Now, in certain cases, it is—you’d want your pilot or surgeon to function on a full night of sleep. And maybe you can function better with five hours of sleep than your husband, who needs a full eight.
But in many cases, caring for the baby is just as difficult, if not more so, than our day jobs. For dad to wake up for nighttime feedings shows that both your jobs—paid or unpaid—are important to the family.
3. Dads are more involved with child care
The more opportunities dads have to be with the baby, the more he’ll learn about his child and better bond with him. And being involved during nighttime duties is no exception.
For instance, he’ll learn which pacifier the baby likes, that he sleeps best with a special kind of swaddle, or that holding him against his chest calms him down quickly.
He won’t know any of this if he doesn’t have the opportunity to discover them for himself.
He’s on the same team, doing similar work, instead of asking you where you keep the burp cloths or which pajamas to put on the baby. You won’t feel like you’re constantly delegating instructions because he knows just as much about the baby’s needs.
In other words, it’s nice to have an equal “co-worker” who can brainstorm how to soothe a fussy baby in the middle of the night, or pull his weight with changing diapers. You’re in this together.
How to get dad to help with the baby at night
Feeling tired and resentful because your husband doesn’t help with the baby at night? Here are a few ways to get both of you on the same page:
- Communicate. Don’t expect your partner to read your mind! Find an opportunity where you’re both calm and in a good mood. Then discuss your feelings and needs, focusing on how you feel without attacking him or his character.
- Be explicit with what you need. Once you’ve addressed your feelings, be clear about what you want from him. Give a few ideas, then see if he has any, but don’t leave it up to him to guess what you need.
- Find a schedule that works for both of you. Customize and learn how to share night feeds. Many parents take turns—mom does the feedings one night while dad does the next. Others take shifts—dad handles the 9pm to 3am shift, while mom does the 3am to 9am shift. Sharing night feed duties doesn’t always have to be both parents waking up each time the baby cries.
- Come up with alternative ways to involve dad. If your husband waking up for nighttime feedings just isn’t an option, find other ways he can get involved. He can take over bath times, prepare meals, bottle feed during the day, or wake up on the weekends.
Learn how to stop your baby waking early.
Even if you breastfeed and stay home with the baby while your husband works, dads should still wake up for nighttime feedings.
For one thing, you develop a deeper sense of teamwork, knowing that you’re in this together. Using the “I’m just at home” excuse no longer cuts it, especially as we all know how difficult caring for a baby can be. And finally, dads are more involved with childcare, instead of someone you simply delegate tasks to.
And with the tips you learned on how to get both of you on board for nighttime feeds, you’ll soon feel like you’re part of a team.
Get more tips:
- How to Start Night Weaning and End Middle-of-the-Night Feedings
- How to Survive the First Few Weeks with a Newborn and Toddler
- When Does Breastfeeding Finally Stop Hurting?
- What to Do When Your Baby Wants to Breastfeed Constantly
- How to Get Your Baby to Adjust Using a Newborn Schedule
Do you struggle with getting your newborn to sleep? His awake time just might be affecting how well he sleeps or not. Join my newsletter and get my handout—at no cost to you—and discover one mistake you may be making with your baby’s awake time.
Don’t make the same mistakes I did—help your baby fall asleep with this one simple trick! Download it below: