Helping Your Partner Get Better Sleep: 3 Tips for New Dads

By Guest Blogger, Sarah Cummings of The Sleep Advisor

New dads, like it or not, for the first few weeks, months, even years of your new child’s life you’re often going to feel a little bit useless.

No matter how committed you are to the idea of being a modern father there are just some things mom is going to do be able to do better. Sorry!

Feelings of inadequacy might start from the beginning. Afterall your partner has just spent the last nine months amazingly growing an entirely new life inside her – before dramatically squeezing it out in frankly a horrendously painful process!

Yes, I know you were there holding her hand but still, it’s not quit the same is it?

Secondly, unequal pay and antiquated attitudes toward parental leave in most countries mean it is still generally financially sensible for mom to take time of work than dad. So even if you want to be the one who stays at home it might not make sense.

Despite these two handicaps, for the sake of your new child, your partner’s health and the health of your relationship, it’s up to you to step up to the plate and hit being a father out of the park.

In my experience as a mother of two, the best way you can help your partner be the very best new mom she can be, is to ensure she gets as much rest as possible. Obviously that’s easier said than done with a newborn demanding their almost constant attention. With that in mind however here are 3 tips to help your partner get better sleep…

  1. Dad, don’t fear the feed!

Just because your partner has the natural advantage over you with her chest mounted milk machines doesn’t mean she should automatically bear the brunt of the late night feeds. That excuse died out a long long ago. Around the time breast pumps, bottles and fridges were invented.

Being able to store breast milk for use later means you menfolk have no excuse for avoiding the 3am summons for sustenance from the crib next door.

But what if you have to be work early in the morning? Well, I’m sorry to say that so does your partner. Looking after a newborn is far more tasking than any spreadsheet you may have to face in the office.

Don’t look at nightfeeds as a chore, taking on this responsibility will allow you to develop a far stronger bond with your little one. For years dad’s have been lamenting a feeling of inadequacy that often comes with being the father of a newborn, in my experience this is because too many men fail to be proactive.

Taking control, or at the very least taking on an equal share, of the the nightfeed, will provide your partner with much needed extra time in bed and give you one-on-one time to bond with your new child. A win-win!

  1. Learn to give a great massage

This one is self-explanatory. The best present my partner ever gave me, apart from buying me a new bed, was taking a massage course in secret. A fifteen minute shoulder massage by someone who truly knows what they are doing can really take the edge of even the most stressful day as a new mom and can put you in the perfect mood for sleep.

  1. Take care of the 3 Cs

Being able to take care of the 3 Cs is going to reduce your partner’s workload by a massive amount and will go along way to ensuring she isn’t frazzled by the time they her head hits the pillow. But what exactly are the 3 Cs…

Cooking: Taking care of cooking for the family is a massive responsibility and unfortunately in all too many households this burden still falls on the mother. I know times have moved on and menfolk no longer expect to come home to find a meal in the oven waiting for them, which is great. Yet too many men I know seem to think that cooking once or twice a week is something to brag about. It’s not! Get cooking boys.

Rule of thumb: Dad’s if you’re able to remember all the meals you have cooked in the last month, then you aren’t cooking enough.

Cleaning: Dads, making sure you haven’t peed on the seat and that your dirty clothes are in the washing hamper is not the same as keeping the house clean. With a newborn on the scene the demands of keeping a household clean and tidy are going to rise dramatically and you are going to have to pull your weight. Taking on the cleaning is an easy win for fathers, put you your headphones, listen to a podcast and kill that dirt.

Cuddling: There is a pressure in modern society for new moms to be superhuman, that is to take care of the household, children and doing it all while looking amazing and showing no emotion. This so-called ‘supermom’ image is a harmful and unrealistic fallacy in my opinion.

Being a new mom is likely the toughest thing your partner will have likely ever done, it is up to you to let her know being emotional is ok. The first thing you do every time you see her is ask…“do you need a hug?”

Well, there you have it – three top tips to help your partner get more sleep. Believe me she is going to need it! Good luck.

 Photo by Liane Metzler on Unsplash

Dear Holly: It’s So Rewarding to See You When I Come Home/Your First Word?…

9 months.

Dear Holly: It’s So Rewarding to See You When I Come Home

Dear Holly,

Monday evening when I got home from work was the first time I had seen you in two days, as your brother Jack and I had been staying in the Surgical Holding Room at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville due to his near-brush with surgery for his Retropharyngeal Abscess due to Strep Throat.

I walked in the front door of our home to see you look up from the carpet, smile so big, then immediately make your way towards me like a faithful little puppy. You were genuinely happy to see me. The translation was clearly, “Daddy! Welcome home, I missed you!”

After such a soul-exhausting weekend, it was so rewarding to see you when I got home. What made it even more special was that you had apparently been practicing what appears to be your first word: Daddy.

Sure, I realize that “daddy” is probably just simply the physically easiest word to say as you’re figuring out how to speak. But I don’t mind that technicality.

So now our whole family is back together under the same roof. Jack really missed you. His new activity is to hold you in his lap. You love it!

Oh yeah, and Grandma is in town from California for a few weeks now. It was so funny- when I picked her up from the airport, I suggested she sit in the back with you, to keep you from being lonely back there.

You looked up at her and didn’t make a beep until we got to our destination. You had to figure out who she was.

But since then, Grandma has been taking care of you all day, while Mommy and I give you a break from daycare. This is the first time since I can remember that you haven’t been sick. We wanted to give your immune system a break.

We are so glad to have Grandma staying with us. And we’re so glad to all be together again!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: It’s So Rewarding to See You When I Come Home

Dear Holly: I’m Currently Obsessed with This Picture of You at the Circus

7 months.

Dear Holly: I’m Currently Obsessed with This Picture of You at the Circus

Dear Holly,

I am constantly taking pictures of you; wherever we are. But in particular, out of the hundreds I took during our family’s visit to the circus this past Saturday, there is one that I just can’t get over…

It’s the picture I captioned on Facebook with, “Fascinated by it all.”

While your brother definitely enjoyed the circus, I’m convinced that you were even more intrigued than he was. The way your big blue eyes were wide open, as well as your mouth, as you appeared to be mesmerized by what you are seeing.

From the lights, to the music, to the acrobats… you were truly fascinated by it all.

The world is still very new to you. I see it every day with you; that you are full of wonder and awe of everything that is presented to you.

But I also love how simply adorable you are in the picture. Your cuteness is very evident to me. The lights hit your skin in a way that really brings out the pink in your tone, which happens to match your cute little hoodie.

I’ve saved this picture on my phone as the wallpaper. I love to see it throughout the day- and I really enjoy showing off your picture to people. For those who haven’t seen a picture of you recently, this one is an exceptional photo to show them.

Seriously, you are such an adorable little baby girl.

You do this thing where if you are laying down and you see me walking towards you from across the other side of the room, you smile so big and so proud as if to say, “Daddy, aren’t I pretty?”

My answer will be the same every time: Of course you are… and don’t forget precious too!

Love,

Daddy

Frankincense Actually Helps My 7 Month-Old Daughter Sleep through the Night (No, I Don’t Sell Essential Oils- Sincere 3rd Party Testimonial)

Frankincense Actually Helps My 7 Month-Old Daughter Sleep through the Night (No, I Don’t Sell Essential Oils- Sincere 3rd Party Testimonial)

I want to be clear about two things right off the bat:

First, I do not sell essential oils nor do I make any supplemental income from endorsing them; nor am I involved in any kind of platform network to promote essential oils. Similarly, I am not affiliated with any brand, distributor, or salesperson.

In other words, I truly am a 3rd party. I’m a regular guy with zero interest in selling essential oils.

The 2nd thing I want to be clear on is that a month and a half ago, I patiently/strategically/successfully trained my infant daughter to sleep through the night. Therefore, I am not saying that Frankincense is the reason my daughter sleeps through the night- instead, I’m claiming that Frankincense helps her sleep more solidly through the night, as opposed to not using Frankincense at all.

So for the past month and a half my wife, my daughter, and I have been getting much better sleep. Life has been much more enjoyable since then.

For well over a month now, there has been no need to feed our daughter after 9 PM nor to feed her before 5:30 AM; nor to change her diaper. She sleeps through the night, thanks to my deliberate sleep training strategy that I also used our son who is now 6 years old.

However, there have been many nights in which I have had to run upstairs to place our daughter’s pacifier in her mouth, after hearing her start crying during the night. Once I placed the pacifier back in, she’s typically been fine for the next several hours.

Fortunately, my wife figured out along the way that Frankincense essential oil has had a lot to do with the nights that our daughter never cries once through the night; meaning that literally I don’t have to wake up again after I fall asleep either.

To be clear, the nights my wife didn’t use Frankincense essential oil in the diffuser in our daughter’s room, our baby girl was more likely to wake up during the night and need me to slip the pacifier back in.

But when Frankincense was used in the diffuser, she was more likely to not wake up at all again until morning time.

(By the way, I never even bought the essential oil or the diffuser- my mom gave them to us.)

This is my real life. I am a real person. This is my human experience. I have no need (or monetary reason) to prove Frankincense helps my 7 month-old daughter sleep better. I simply am writing about this to help other parents out there.

I just know it works.

Now, ready to buy some essential oils from me? Just kidding.

I do not sell essential oils. Remember?

After 30 Days of “Cry It Out” Method on My Now 6 Month-Old Daughter (to Train Her to Sleep through the Night)

The Official Results after 30 Days of Using the “Cry It Out” Method on My Now 6 Month-Old Daughter (to Train Her to Sleep through the Night)

Something I wasn’t told going into becoming a parent 6 years ago with my son is that about 6 months into it, my wife and I would be faced with a dilemma: Our baby would no longer require feedings throughout the night but he would wake up and cry like he did anyway.

It meant one of two things:

A)     We would continue to wake up with until one day he just magically began sleeping through the night on his own; meaning the parents continue losing much needing sleep and continue a stressful situation.

B)     We would commit to the controversial “Cry It Out” method, which would either effectively train my baby to sleep through the night, or forever traumatize him.

I opted for the 2nd option.

Though my wife wasn’t thrilled with the idea, she didn’t complain after the first night, as it easily proved our son fell asleep after just 30 minutes of crying it out in his crib, then remained asleep for the rest of the night.

In other words, it worked after just one night. Granted, he was 7 months old at the time, where as our daughter was only 5 and a half months when we started this with her a month ago.

For my now 6 year-old son, the “Cry It Out” Method proved to be easily effective. And I must note, he turned out quite normal after all. It’s got to mean something that I recently learned from his Kindergarten teacher that he’s on a 4th grade reading level.

So for any first-time parents out there, I submit this documentation to you. Here are the notes from the past 30 days, which document the process of me successfully training my now 6 month-old daughter to sleep through the night:

Night 1 (Sunday October 10, 2016): I began sleeping in the guest room upstairs near her. She went to bed around 9:30 PM and had her final feeding for the night. She woke up twice, both times for a duration of 20 minutes. Both times, I had to quickly flip you over after she was exhausting herself by crying on her stomach, while holding herself up with her arms. The first time she started crying, she got your foot stuck in the bars of her crib. But after letting her cry for a few minutes that way, she revealed that she easily knew how to remove her leg from the bars herself. From that point on, I knew not to fall for it.

Night 2: She went to bed around 9:00 PM and had her final feeding for the night. She only woke up once, this time for just 10 minutes. I had to quickly flip her over on her back again- then she immediately went back to sleep.

Night 3: She went to bed around 8:00 PM and had her final feeding for the night. She only cried once, for 30 minutes inconsistently. However, she remained on her back the whole time, meaning this was the first time I didn’t having to quickly flip her back over.

Night 4: She went to bed around 7:00 PM, though I fed her a full bottle at 10:00 PM; which was 3 hours after she fell asleep. Beginning at 2:00 AM, she mildly, inconstantly cried the first time for 30 minutes, then fell back to sleep on her own. Again, I didn’t have to flip her over. She did it herself this time. Then again at 4:00 AM, she did the same thing for this time for only 10 minutes.

Night 5: She slept all night with no interruptions.

Night 6: She was up 3 times, as much as 30 minutes, but wasn’t fed enough (watered down formula), accidentally left the blanket and pacifier in her bed, had to remove them  then changed her diaper. She woke up at 11 PM, 2 PM, and 4 PM.

Night 7: She was up twice, but fell back asleep both times, at 2 AM and 4 AM.

Night 8: She woke up twice, both less than 10 minutes; the time 2nd time I had to flip her over. By now, her normal bed time is around 8PM; as opposed to closer to 9:30 PM when this began over a week ago.

Night 9: This was the worst night so far; she officially woke up twice; at 12:30 PM and 4:40 AM. The 1st time I flipped her over 3 times before she eventually fell asleep on her side, then the 2nd time, she fell asleep on her on her side on her own. However, she woke up hourly to at least cry for a minute. Much of the difficulty was sinus congestion.

Night 10: woke up at 4:30, an hour before the right time, flipped over, fell back asleep

Night 11: She slept through the night for the 2nd time since I started this; though there were a few times a few cries were heard along the way. However, she never rolled over or moved.

Night 12: She slept through the night 2nd night in a row. Moving forward, I will be sleeping downstairs again.

Night 13: She easily slept all night.

Night 14: She slept through the night yet again. Even though she wasn’t feeling well, she never woke up.

Night 15: She slept through the night, but fell asleep later, because she was still not feeling well.

Night 16: She slept through the night, but I had to start making sure her sure legs aren’t stuck before I myself go to bed, so it wasn’t distract her in the middle of the night again.

Night 17: She had trouble falling asleep. She didn’t fall asleep until 10 PM. She woke up for 30 minutes at 1 AM. It appears teething is the culprit though

Nights 18 through 30: She easily slept through entire night; no issues at all.

So as well can see, it was more challenging to officially sleep-train our daughter. Whereas it only took one night for our son, it took closer to 18 days with our daughter.

But even with that aside, I know from personal experience that as a dad, I have the ability to teach my babies to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night.

In the event you’ve read horrifying blogs out there that try to teach you that the “Cry It Out” method is a way to mess up your kids, here’s proof that’s not always the case.

Dear Holly: You Slept through the Entire Night for the 1st Time in Your Life, after Day 5 of “The Cry It Out” Method

5 months.

Dear Holly: You Slept through the Entire Night for the 1st Time in Your Life, after Day 5 of “The Cry It Out” Method

Dear Holly,

Last night made the first time in your life in which you slept through the entire night, from 8:20 PM to 5:40 AM, without ever crying or waking up, whatsoever.

If you had, I would have known, since I had the baby monitor right next to me the whole night; as I have the past 4 nights as well. I myself went to bed at 10:30 PM, and was so surprised when my alarm woke me up a 5:20 AM and realized I had been asleep the whole time without having to get out of bed.

That also means Mommy got another great night of sleep, as she went to bed at 9:45 PM. And of course your brother Jack went to sleep the same time as you, and also slept all through the night; as he always has, since I successfully applied “The Cry It Out” Method on him 5 years ago.

Now that your body has officially adapted to remaining solidly asleep for an entire night, I am confident to believe this will be the norm for you from now on. Granted, I am prepared for the next few following days for you to possibly briefly wake up, but then to fall right back asleep.

But really, this should be it. No more of Mommy losing sleep by having to (illegitimately) feed you through the night.

I had been ready for months to go ahead and sleep train you; but between Mommy being psychologically ready (ultimately meaning she hadn’t yet reached to the combination of “fed up and exhausted”), and you getting sick, and us going on vacation for a week in San Diego, then to Alabama last weekend for my grandma’s funeral, the timing just wasn’t right.

But that all came to a head this week.

I very much appreciate Mommy trusting me to take over. I couldn’t have been successful without her agreeing to let me do what I am wired to do, which is what she is not wired to do.

She never once came upstairs to interrupt me in my craft, as you cried it out for up to 20 minutes at a time.

Clearly, Mommy is the feminine nurturer. And clearly, I am the masculine enforcer.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Your Introduction to “The Cry It Out” Method (to Train You to Sleep through the Night)

5 months.

Dear Holly: Your Introduction to “The Cry It Out” Method to Train You to Sleep through the Night

Dear Holly,

This is a very special week for you. Mommy gave me the green light to have full jurisdiction in applying “The Cry It Out” Method to help you learn to sleep through the night.

I did this for your brother when he was 7 months old and now I am happy I get to “sleep train” you about a month and a half sooner than I did with him.

Mommy didn’t mind waking up twice a night to feed you for these past couple of months, but it transitioned into you waking up every couple of hours. I pointed out to her that you weren’t actually physically needing to eat. Instead, you needed to be re-calibrated to be able to sleep longer than 2 hours at a time and I was more than willing to assume the role.

Without much need to persuade her by this point, I presented Mommy with the plan that starting this week, I would sleep upstairs in the room next to yours, with the baby monitor right next to me, so I could wake up and supervise you “crying it out.” That way, Mommy could start getting full, uninterrupted nights of sleep again, while I wake up with you to help you learn to cry yourself back to sleep.

Here’s how it’s been going so far:

Night 1, Sunday: You went to bed around 9:30 PM and had your final feeding for the night. You woke up twice, both times for a duration of 20 minutes. Both times, I had to flip you over after you were exhausting yourself by crying on your stomach, while holding yourself up with your arms. The first time you started crying, you got your foot stuck in the bars of your crib. But after letting your cry for a few minutes that way, you revealed that you easily knew how to remove your leg from the bars yourself. From that point on, I knew not to fall for it.

Night 2, Monday: You went to bed around 9:00 PM and had your final feeding for the night. You only woke up once, this time for just 10 minutes. I had to flip you over on your back again- then you immediately went back to sleep.

Night 3, Tuesday: You went to bed around 8:00 PM and had your final feeding for the night. You only cried once, for 30 minutes inconsistently. However, you remained on your back the whole time, meaning this was the first time I didn’t having to flip you back over.

Night 4, Wednesday: You went to bed around 7:00 PM, though I fed you a full bottle at 10:00 PM; which was 3 hours after you fell asleep. Beginning at 2:00 AM, you mildly, inconstantly cried the first time for 30 minutes, then fell back to sleep on your own. Again, I didn’t have to flip you over. You did it yourself this time. Then again at 4:00 AM, you did the same thing for this time for only 10 minutes.

What my notes of this show is this: With each following night of me applying “The Cry It Out” Method on you, you have been A) falling asleep earlier, B) teaching yourself to either remain on your back or flip yourself back over yourself, and C) wake up happy with a slightly bigger appetite.

Clearly, this method is working for you. Through my supervision, you are teaching yourself to remain asleep through the night, like a child; as opposed to a newborn.

This means better rest for you and Mommy, and eventually me, once you eventually stop crying or waking up all together in the middle of the night.

I remember how 5 years ago when I applied this method to your brother, I was told by a few people that I was depriving your brother of love and assurance, to the point that he would be psychologically damaged from letting him cry it out.

Fortunately, your brother has grown into a well-balanced nearly 6 year-old Kindergartner. He was the first boy student in his class this school year to be awarded by his teacher, Student of the Month, in September.

So I am fully convinced that you will turn out just right, as well. This is a good thing for our family.

Love,

Daddy