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Dads, Babies, and Much Needed Sleep

Rebecca is desperately seeking sleep.  Can you help?

I'm wondering if I could query the breastfeeding mamas out there about whether or how their husbands are able to put their babies to sleep. I'm a first time mom with a two-month old and I can always put her to sleep by nursing her. However, she still doesn't sleep for long periods, so I really enjoy/need my husband to take a 3-4 hour shift so I can get some consecutive hours of sleep. This has worked well because he's been able to get her to be calm and sleep by wearing her in the sling (which she actually will not allow me to do). But now she's too big for the sling and cries and seems very uncomfortable. We're at a loss for how he can soothe her. She takes a bottle from him but it doesn't knock her out like breast milk and she's happy to sit and play with him for brief periods, but we are curious if there are ways that we could that he could actually soothe her to sleep? If he just rocks or carries her, it always ends with her crying. Is she just too young still?

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I don't think your baby is too young to be soothed by her father. Every baby is different, but with my daughter we found it was easier for my husband to soothe her to sleep than for me to do it. I suspected that when she smelled the milk-giver she wanted the milk.

Has your husband tried walking with the baby near white noise? For a few months, Ada was really soothed by the kitchen exhaust fan, running water, the radio tuned to static, even heavy distortion noise type music. My husband would hold her and walk around the kitchen until she konked out.

When she was really wound up, we took her for night drives. Once I even brought her inside in her bassinet-style carseat so as not to wake her.

From the beginning, my husband was in charge of all night diapering and of bringing the baby to me once we moved her out of our bed. The less I got up, the less awake I was, which helped. Good luck!

I'm very surprised to hear that she's grown out of the sling already!? My hubby still uses ours and we've got a 23 pound bundle. I wonder if it might just be time to upgrade the sling your husband is using. Ours is a New Native, which is rated to 35 lbs (I think), but I've seen others that look more comfortable. I should think that would be the easiest solution, if it's something that she responds to. Otherwise, my husband also used a birthing ball for a long time. But, to this day he's still using a sling.

I should follow that up by suggesting Mother Nature's on SE 21st and Clinton. They have a nice sling and pack selection on display, with different sizes and brands that you can actually try with your baby. The staff is also very helpful and they were understanding when I bought and returned a few different "models" before settling a New Native for hubby and a New Native for me.

I have just started the nursing thing again with my third baby (3 weeks old) and I have found with all of them that nursing right when they wake up really sets their schedule. When they wake up from a nap I feed them and then change their diaper and try to keep them awake for a while. (at night i just let them go right back to sleep) Then they will fall asleep on their own while being held or set in the crib. This definitely takes some time to get the pattern set, and every baby is different, but I really think that working toward a schedule where they are eating when they are hungry and awake, not tired and needing soothed is best for you and for the baby.

Both my daughters were able to be soothed to sleep if they were held in a snuggle position (on the chest, with head tucked under the chin) and we bounced on one of those exercise/therapy balls. This worked for both my husband and I. I would nurse/feed them and then change their diapers before putting them back to sleep. I found that waking them up slightly before bouncing them back to sleep helped to break that nurse/sleep association. Good luck!

A big thing for us was setting the stage. Keeping lights off, maybe a set ritual like a bath before bedtime.

I would talk to Mila in a low voice and had a little soft song I would sing to her only when I was trying to soothe her or put her to sleep.

Using the sling was a critical part of my sleep routine with Mila when she was an infant. I don't know what type of sling you have but for us the Maya Wrap works best because of its adjustability and versality.

With regard to sizing, most slings should work up to a baby being 35 lbs. However one-piece pouches - like the New Native - are size specific and will rarely fit both parents. Even though Jen and I are of the same height, the broadness of my shoulders resulted in any one-piece pouch that worked for her, did not work for me.

If you prefer a pouch over a Maya Wrap, an adjustable pouch like the Kangaroo Korner would be a good way to go if you want it to work for both parents.

One big thing to keep in mind is that children go through different phases all the time as they grow - very rapidly when they are infants. What worked one week for an infant may suddenly be ineffective the next.

We went through a period when Mila was about 2 months where the only way she would go down at night was for me to bounce on an excercise ball with my finger in her mouth while she was resting on her belly on my forearm - for about an hour. If I stopped bouncing too early, it was back to square one. Thankfully, this phase was over by three months.

A big thing for all parents to keep in mind is that infants will normally wake up every 3-4 hours for feeding at night - some more frequently than this. There is really nothing that is normal for sleep at this age, so don't set your expectations on "sleeping through the night" too high.

A good resource for sleep solutions and information is Dr. Sears, you want to check out this link:

http://www.askdrsears.com/html/7/T070200.asp

At the risk of sounding like an advertisement, we carry Maya Wraps, Maya Pouches, and Kangaroo Korner carriers at Milagros. We also have Ergo carriers but those aren't a great "sleeping" sling.

All the best,

Tony

Thanks everyone, for your comments! We realized that our New Native sling is actually too small for my husband - we ordered it for my size - and that may be why she seems so cramped. We're going to try a larger size becuase when she seemed more comfortable in it, she seemed to go to sleep so soundly (in the cradle position). Thanks for bringing that idea to light!

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