Every family manages their baby’s nighttime wakeups differently. Many parents are on a schedule for who gets up with the baby when. Some play it by ear according to who wakes first. In other situations, one partner may take on responding to all night wakeups.
Many dads find themselves taking on the night shift either short term or permanently. There are a lot of reasons this changes throughout your baby’s life, including a parent’s work schedule changing, illness, or a transition such as weaning. Whatever the reason, it’s important to help your baby sleep well consistently no matter who is getting up with them.
If you’re making a change to take over the night shift, here are some tips that can help.
Being woken up by a cry can be a little disorienting. If you’re new to night shift duties, thinking through the steps of feeding, changing, and re-swaddling can be hard when those aren’t yet routine for you. If your baby is in a swaddle transition, you can help them keep the benefits of steady sleep with a Magic Sleepsuit.
Make sure before you go to bed that you have everything in place so you don’t end up searching when half-awake. Get a diaper out and set it ready to go on the changing table. Have a bottle prepared and in front view in the fridge so you can grab it and warm it quickly.
Consistency is key to helping your baby settle down sooner after a nighttime wake-up. Make sure to coordinate with your partner to both have the same nighttime routine. That way, no matter which of you is responding to the cries, your baby knows what to expect.
This is especially important if you’re taking over night duty after your partner has managed it for a while. Keeping the same routine can help your baby adjust sooner and calm down more quickly. If you’re making changes to your routine, talk with your partner about goals to help your baby sleep better and decide on plans together.
Taking on the bedtime routine when possible can be a great help to adjust your baby and yourself to your nighttime role. It can be helpful for you to walk through the same steps of a night time wake up while it’s still light. And it can help you build the muscle memory for where things are so you can access them easily when you’re sleepy.
If you’re new to the bedtime routine, it’s a good opportunity to learn what riles your baby up rather than helping them calm down. As your baby associates you with getting to sleep instead of only daytime play, it can help them to know it’s time to calm when you are getting them at night.
One of the biggest benefits of night time duties is the added bonding time with your little one. It’s a unique opportunity for quiet one-on-one that is hard to get at other times of day. Holding your little one close while they watch you during feedings is a sweet time for a parent.
Resist the temptation to check emails during late-night feedings. Take advantage of that time to be present in responding to their focus with your own smiles, coos, or songs, and see how their demeanor changes as they associate you with comfort and security.
If you and your partner are getting on a new schedule or plan for who gets up with the baby, make sure to communicate clearly. Talking about nighttime changes is a lot easier when you’re both awake, so make sure to discuss in the daytime so you both know what to expect at night. This is especially true if you’re making a change to how you respond to nighttime wakeups.
If you’re encouraging your baby to sleep through the night, you might decide to wait a certain amount of time before responding to wakeups. If you’re working on weaning from nighttime feedings, you may choose to change how to respond to your baby. If you and your partner are on board with the same schedule and plan for your baby’s sleep, it makes the night wakeups a lot smoother.