Each week DaddiLifeForce brings you special tips, curated from the community, to help you create more winning dad moments. This week, we’re looking at something that’s an issue across a variety of different child ages – sleep training!
Controlled crying has been a much advocated process for the last twenty years, but getting them exhausted to sleep doesn’t always equate with peaceful sleep (it can mean shutting-down instead). The Australian Association of Infant Mental Health (AAIMHI) has gone a step further, asserting that “Controlled crying is not consistent with what infants need for their optimal emotional and psychological health, and may have unintended negative consequences.”
Here’s how some have re-thought their sleep training process.
1. You can ask me one question, by GetConnectDad
Julian, founder of the GetConnectDad website, recently spoke about his desire to get his five-year-old to bed ‘without a bunch of drama every night.’ What’s started to work for him recently is a real win-win, while tapping into a five-year-old’s natural sense of curiosity.
The exact process Julian used:
- Try to understand what is going on with our little one. I asked a few times, by sitting on the ground and listening to him. He said he liked sleeping with me. 🙂 I am cuddly.
- The first night, I went to my bedroom and told him he could ask me any questions he wanted.
- The second night, I went to my bedroom and told him he could ask me two questions before he had to go to bed.
- The third night, I asked him if he had any questions before we went to bed. When he got out of bed twice, I quietly, with no emotion, walked him back to his room.
- Fourth night. Little to no issue.
The result, two nights in a row where he slept in his bedroom throughout the entire evening. He is very proud of himself.
My wife and I are far from claiming victory; however, we are now in agreement that we will not have any communication with him after he is put to bed. We are both going to simply take him back to his room.
Who is this for: Dad’s with children aged 5 + who are ready and able to have more exploratory and inquisitive questions of the world.
2. Hold my hand, by us!
In the daddilife team, we’ve recently found an amazing way to get one of the toddler’s to sleep. It started with an observation that he loves holding hands during the day, and is a particular whizz at holding hands whether it’s crossing the road, jumping high, or in play time.
He had been sleeping with both parents since very young, and had gotten used to the cuddliness of dad in particular. 😉
Here’s how we created a better sleep pattern:
- The first night is the important foundation. We took him to his cot at usual bedtime and sat with him, getting him to lay down in his cot. We also gave him his milk IN the cot too. The vital thing is don’t let them get out. Stay with them in a seat next to the cot until they’re asleep (even if they start a mini jumping session during it).
- The second night, we got the seat next to the cot again, but this time dad held his hands through the bars while he was having milk. This is great at soothing him to sleep and also means you can get the milk bottle straight after.
- The third night, we held his hands for a much shorter time and he got off to sleep immediately.
Everytime there’s been a little hiccup and he awakes too early, very calmly we’ve sat with him, held his hands, and let him drift off naturally. He’s now in a great routine, and it’s the best sleep the parents have had in ages!
Who is this for: Dad’s with children aged 2 + who want to provide that reassurance at bed time, while also getting their own beds back!
3. Don’t conform to social etiquette, by Michelle McHale
Michelle runs the wonderful Attachment Parenting site and course, and she has a brilliant insight into sleep training mindset with newborns:
“One of the toughest things about sleep-deprivation is other people’s obsession with your own exhaustion. It’s a normal human strategy to identify problems and fix them, therefore ensuring unsolicited suggestions on what you need to change.”
Michelle has a great tip for dads with newborns – turn that obsession to your advantage, and drop the social etiquette.
- When visitors come, take chances to nap!
- Similarly, it can be incredibly hard to relinquish precious ‘sleeping baby’ time especially if you feel compelled to do domestic jobs.
- When you are sleep-deprived sleep must be your priority – your visitors, partner and your children will appreciate a well-rested you far more than a tidy house or a conversation with a wrung out version of yourself.
Who is this for: Dad’s (and Mums) with newborns who are ready to introduce some sleep patterns into their lives – for baby and themselves!
Got your own #DaddiLifeForce tip?
Got a tip of your own you think we should feature? Send it into us at [email protected] for our next roundups.
Let’s keep those dad-moments strong.?