Sisterly Advice

Dads’ Soothing Skills

June brings us Father’s Day, so Sleep Sisters is dedicating this month to dads and their impact on sleep.

Dads can often feel marginalized when there is a new baby in the house, especially if mom is breastfeeding. But sleep is one area where Dad can be a huge asset.

Today, I want to talk about Dad’s role in soothing and helping get baby to sleep. Dr. Karp introduced us to “The Five ‘S’s,” which include swaddling, shushing, swinging, side, and sucking, all great tools for helping calm a crying or fussy baby. I can say without hesitation that my husband is better than I am in executing these soothing techniques. For one thing, fathers are often a bit stronger and willing to be a bit more aggressive when soothing their babies.

My husband is the best swaddler in our house. He can make the tightest swaddle that has the most amazing effect – instantly settling a fussy baby. I always cringe when I see him do it; I worry he is doing it too tight or that he’d hurt the baby. But of course, when morning comes and our darling is still snug in the swaddle, baby burrito, sleeping like…a baby….I acknowledge his prowess in this arena.

In addition to swaddling, my hubby, and lots of other men, are great at shushing. I’ll admit that I have noise issues – everything is always too loud for me. But not my husband. He puts his mouth right next to the baby’s ear and makes a loud shushing noise. My shush will sometimes work, but his always does. He’s not afraid to shush louder than the baby’s cry, and that is what it takes.

Then there is swinging. This is probably the most fun, and also the most tiring. Here again, men can excel and may even enjoy soothing. Whether it’s making arcing swoops with baby in arms, or jiggling the baby on its side in his lap, my husband never seemed to tire of this form of soothing. And it works like a charm.

Soothing is one area where we strongly encourage fathers to participate and develop domain expertise. Dads can really enjoy this direct contact with their babies and feel great when they achieve that seemingly impossible feat of getting a fussy baby to sleep. And moms will appreciate a break from the struggles of parenting, especially at the end of the day when nerves are worn thin. And what an amazing feeling when you see your partner bonding with his baby! Now that’s a gift for both Mom and Dad.

Check out Dr. Karp’s video showing the Five S’s…it’s unbelievable and really works!

2 replies on “Dads’ Soothing Skills”

My husband does the loud shushing too, but it worries me that it could hurt a baby’s little ear drums. Does that not worry you too?

Our mom is a speech and language pathologist and she was always concerned that we had our white noise too loud. Loud noises can damage baby ear drums. However, Dr. Karp of the 5 S’s fame does advocate for loud shhing. We do know that the shushing has to be loud enough to be heard over the crying and other household noises. Ask your husband to try a little softer and see if that works. You should find a volume that is just loud enough to work, but not much louder. There are also tools/apps that measure decibels so you could test his level to make sure it’s not above the recommended level (around 60 dcbl).

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