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Who Should Put The Kids To Bed?

who should put the kids to bed, bedtime routine

The million-dollar question in many households is, “Who is putting the kids to bed?” I know many families that would play paper-rock-scissors to see who’s on tonight!

Do you have a routine for who puts your child to bed? Or is it whoever has the most energy tonight?

In most families, the responsibility of bedtime usually falls on the primary caregiver. Or in other words, the parent that generally takes on more of the child-related responsibilities such as feeding, dressing, and bathing.  I am not talking about the antiquated, “Mom does all the child duties, while Dad goes to work and kisses them goodnight when he gets home”. But even in our modern society, one parent often takes on more responsibility than the other. It might be a 75/25 split or even a 45/55 split, but one parent is the go-to.

And as I have observed from working with hundreds of families, the parent that feeds their child is usually also responsible for bedtime.

Who Should Put Your Child To Bed When Starting Sleep Training?

My answer to this question is based on observational data and helping develop individualized sleep plans for the families that I work with. All who are trying to teach their child how to get to sleep independently and have them sleep through the night.

I recommend that you divide the feeding and bedtime responsibilities – the parent in charge of feeding is not the same as the one in charge of bedtime. 

Why Separate Feeding and Bedtime Responsibilities?

The biggest sleep struggle for children over the age of six months is their reliance on a sleep prop, whether that is being rocked to sleep, taken on car rides, or being fed or nursed to sleep.

If your child is used to falling asleep while having the bottle or nursing, it creates a dependence on this action. This dependence needs to be broken in order to get your child to fall asleep by themselves when they wake up in the middle of the night.

Every child, and even adults, wakes up in the middle of the night at the end of a sleep cycle. As adults, we’ve learned the skill of falling back to sleep on our own. Sleep training involves teaching your child to develop the skills to go from awake to asleep all on their own.

Skills don’t develop immediately. It might take a few nights for your child to understand that they aren’t going to get their sleep prop back. It will be frustrating for your child, just like it would be if someone took away your favorite pillow against your desire.

Eliminate Confusion

So, the main reason for having one parent in charge of bedtime and the other for feeding is that it minimizes confusion.

Your child will still want to feed back to sleep those first few nights and will protest even more to the one that usually feeds them. So, since your child doesn’t usually associate the other parent with feeding, it will help minimize these protests.

Whether you’re about to start teaching your baby some independent sleep skills, or you’ve already started and things don’t seem to be going to plan, I’d nudge you to give this little strategy a try.

What About After The First Few Nights?

Those first few nights might be a bit stressful and tiresome for the parent in charge. But the good news is that it is temporary. Once they’ve learned to fall asleep again on their own in the middle of the night, it will be life-changing.

After your child has kicked the habit of needing a feed to fall asleep and has learned to sleep independently, you can start paper-rock-scissors again at bedtime. Plus, you’ll feel more comfortable leaving bedtime to the babysitter or your parents so you can reconnect with each other!

Contact Tender Transitions

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