By Michael E. Farrell Copyright 2002
If you are a like almost every other new father you are not alone in this question. It’s a fair question to ask especially after you’ve been up trying to soothe your screaming newborn.
I have good news. The screaming and crying will eventually subside and yes, you will eventually get some well deserved rest. But, it may be a while. So here are a few tips to help you make it through those (short) nights.
1. Breastfeeding mothers need help. That’s right, don’t assume that because your wife is breastfeeding that you are “off the hook.” If your wife is breastfeeding she will treasure you for taking the time to get up and bring your baby to her. It seems insignificant now. But at 3am in the morning it’s a beautiful gesture.
2. Take shifts with your wife. Agree before you go to bed at night which of you will get up with the baby first. It might help to simply pick even and odd hours. For example, if the baby wakes up during the 11pm, 1am, 3am, 5am hours then you wake up with him or her. If it’s during the 12am, 2am, 4am, 6am hours then your wife will will wake up with the baby. The point is have a plan before you go to sleep at night. This will eliminate the anger and frustration of the moment when neither one of you wants to get up.
3. Learn the different ways your baby likes to be held. Some like to be held chest to chest. Others like to be cradled. And still others like to be seated facing away from you. Find the position that your baby feels most comfortable in try soothing them in that position.
4. Don’t be to proud or embarassed to sing softly and even talk to your baby. The sound of your voice is very reassuring to your baby and it is part of the bonding process. Your baby will quickly learn to associate your voice with safety and security.
5. Gentle bouncing works sometimes. But be careful not to bounce baby too much or you may upset your baby’s tummy.
6. Pacifiers work too. Some babies find comfort in a pacifier. Others refuse to accept it especially if your wife is breastfeeding.
7. Rocking, either in a chair or in the bassinet, can also be helpful means of helping ease your baby back to sleep.
8. Pacing the floor was very soothing to my daughter. In fact she would transition from a “deathly scream” to silence if I put her chest to chest with her head on my shoulder and simply started pacing the room. While pacing the room you’ll discover little nooks and crannies that you had never noticed before.
9. Placing a warm heating pad in your babies cradle before bed time can ease the transition when laying baby down for the first time at night. NOTE: The heating pad should never be left in the cradle when it is occupied.
10. A warm bath in a baby tub can also be a great way to soothe your baby before bedtime. It’s important that you have a towel to wrap your baby in right away after the bath. This will eliminate him from getting cold.
These are all useful tools that will help you get your baby back to sleep a little quicker–and that’s good for you. If you discover other ideas write me and let me know what works for you.
Mike Farrell and his wife Dawn have been married for 10 years. They have three children: 2 boys and 1 girl: Jonathan (7), Meg (3) and Luke (2). A 1991 graduate from Boise State University, Mike has a B.A. in English. A native of Idaho, Mike works as a professional in Information Technology. But his real passion is with his family. Mike is the owner, operator and Senior Editor for Fatherville.com