In the perfect world both parents would be able to settle the baby. In the real world, one parent will often be doing it more than the other, leaving the burden on one and the other parent feeling a bit left out.
This cycle often starts with breast feeding. The mother is the one who gets up to feed the baby and then this leads to them being the only one doing all the feeding and settling overnight. However, dads are really great at settling babies and babies generally respond very quickly to them. Deeper voices, larger hands, stronger holds; this is often very comforting for babies and it can help them settle off to sleep quickly. Also, because the father is not the breastfeeding parent, it will often mean that the baby can relax rather than be stimulated by smelling milk.
If one parent has generally been doing the settling, then the settling might seem more natural to that parent, but it is important to allow both parents to be involved in the process. This is the nature of co-parenting.
There can also be an issue around one parent going to work while the other parent is at home all day with the baby. This parent, will then usually take on all the settling and parenting overnight as they don’t want to disturb the parent who has to get up and go to work. I totally understand this but being a stay at home parent is not all fun and relaxation! Having a baby at home full-time is exhausting! I think it is reasonable for both parents to be involved in the overnight feeding (if they are bottle fed) and settling.
Perhaps in the early days this arrangement should be something that couples talk about in order to know where they both stand on the subject and how they will deal with it when the baby arrives. It is also worth remembering that our way is not the only way and letting our partners settle the baby in their way can also be okay- as long as the end result is the same!
It is also important for dads to feel confident in caring for their children, particularly as they grow. If both parents are working and a child is sick, then either parent is then able to stay home with the sick child and care for them. Babies and children really need both parents involved in their life and their upbringing. Remember you are a team and a child needs both of you. It is a great journey that should to be shared together.
Article by Wattle Health resident expert, Paediatric Nurse, Jo Ryan.