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Hard to Stay Awake When with the Baby










QUESTION:

Even before we had a baby, I had a problem with staying awake. Now our baby is here and she's two weeks old. My wife will go take a bath and I will have baby in the rocker while I lay or sit watching TV, my wife bathes for about half an hour and I normally doze off during her bath.

She is very frustrated that I do this. I try and explain that for someone who used to fall asleep around 9 or 9:30 p.m. and now stays up later to try and help with baby, still getting up to go to work around 5 a.m. that I'm not that bad. She doesn't want to hear it and doesn't understand why I just can't stay up. We also have two small dogs who are learning not to upset the baby.

So does my wife have a point or is she being way overprotective?




ANSWER:

Like most new mothers, she is most definitely overprotective. One of the coolest things a dad can do, for both him and his baby, is for both to take a nap with his baby on his chest. Your baby is calmed by your heartbeat, and learns that you are one of two people (mom too, primarily through breastfeeding) who can give him solid doses of oxytocin that make him feel loved and emotionally secure. Your wife probably wouldn't like this either, at least for a while, until she finally realizes (this can take months) that you are fully capable of taking care of your baby, and your way is just different than what she does.

Sleep is a huge challenge for both mom and dad during those early months. She may soon appreciate that your ability to give her a break at night by catching cat naps during the day is a good thing. At three weeks you can introduce a bottle, giving your wife the option to pump, which means that you can take a late night or early morning shift for the feeding, letting her get four hours straight sleep.

Bottom line is that when your baby is in her rocker, if she cries, you are able to wake up to deal with it. You should be perfectly comfortable taking a nap. Cave moms had to deal with real threats to their babies like saber-toothed cats, being exposed to the elements, lack of food, illness, etc., but your wife's hormones are still as amped up as a cave mom's despite the lack of serious threat, so they have to low the bar substantially on what constitutes a threat (even to the point of making them up).

Good luck, things will steadily get better.

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