It’s sometimes hard to decide which is the biggest pain in the arse: the tear/piles/prolapse (delete as appropriate) sustained whilst pushing another human out of one’s hoo-haa; the continuous toddler meltdowns which thus ensue; or the dreaded sleep-deprivation – in my case caused by colic. Which is another post in itself…

During these early days, we get through however we need to. It’s all well and good proclaiming we’ll never co-sleep or use a dummy, but if it’s a case of stick to your guns or get some zzz’s? Well, put it this way: I appear to be co-sleeping. Groan.

Sleeping Baby on Mother's Chest

How Did That Happen?

It’s the one thing, for the sake of my marriage, I really wanted to avoid. I managed not to do it with Pixie despite her initial refusal to sleep unless she was lying on one of our chests. But this time, though Elfin is incredibly chilled out when she is chilled out, when it comes to the evenings it’s a battle just to get half an hour to put our feet up before it all begins again.

I’m not exaggerating – we literally often don’t get even thirty minutes downtime as husband and wife, with both children sleeping. It’s relentless and exhausting.

I am so knackered. I am also so lucky. But damn – I could use a holiday. And I know that won’t happen for a very long time yet. Sure, we may have a few days away as a family, but let’s be real: that ain’t no holiday for mummy and daddy.

Should your partner get up with the baby in the night? Here's why I don't think so. #babysleeptips #babysleepadvice #parentingtips

So How Are We Coping?

For a start, I don’t expect my husband to get up in the night. Never have, never will. He gets up between 4.30 and 5.30am to go out to work to take care of us. And while he’s doing that, sure, I’m at home taking care of our babies. And yes, I am often on my knees by the time he gets home.

But I need the breadwinner in our family to go out and earn a crust.

Hubby makes more than I do at the moment (I work ‘part-time’, though you wouldn’t think it lols – every spare moment I have [haha] is ploughed into the blog) and we are both self-employed. Our family can’t afford for him to be too tired to do a hard day’s graft. Plus, his job is physical and hazardous – neither can we afford for him to not be on the ball. (Actually, I’d probably be quite well off, but I think I’d prefer to have a husband and a father for my babies than a big payout. Then who would help me at the weekends?!)

Fairness and Balance

And that’s the thing – he does help me at the weekends, and in the afternoons and evenings when he gets home. He does as much as he can; and he’s able to because I don’t expect him to get up through the night.

Since I’m breastfeeding, it’s not like he can do very much to assist anyway. (That said, he will get up for Pixie if she wakes and he hears her or if I’m busy with Elfin.)

Mother Breastfeeding

Should Dad Get Up in the Night?

I’ll gladly confess that in my view, it’s a harsh expectation to hold.

This may be unpopular or unwelcome; that’s fine: as you’ll be aware by now, I don’t shy away from controversial.

For the record, my husband more than pulls his weight around the house. We’re a great team. He’s very supportive. That goes both ways, and I like to think it keeps our marriage strong when we have two little darlings hellbent on destroying our relationship

There is another way in which we’re coping. It’s one I’ve been hesitant about sharing – but I’m gonna do it. Next week.

What are your thoughts? Do you make/let your partner get up during the night to help with the baby, even if they have to get up for work the following morning, and even if you’re breastfeeding?

This post has quickly become my most (un)popular post ever. I’ve really infuriated some people and mostly it’s because I think I’ve been misunderstood. There are several comments both below and on social media which take my views out of context, and so I’ve written a follow-up post explaining how actually, I’m a traditionalist and a feminist – the two are not mutually exclusive.

An award-nominated blogger and author, Kate is a huge advocate of personal growth, focusing on journaling to increase positivity and facilitate mindful motherhood. With a wealth of experience in breastfeeding and CMPA, Kate is also an expert baby sleep chaser. Her writing has appeared on Mothercare, Huff Post, and BritMums.


  1. I’m intrigued to know what ‘the other way of coping’ is now? I have one sure fire way to keep my hubby happy but my mum reads my blog so I can’t share those tips lol! I’m with you though, I wouldn’t dream of letting hubby get up in the night. I pride myself on the fact he’s never had a broken nights sleep. He can’t do much anyway it’s me the milk machine that has the solution lol!

    • It’s up on the blog this week so I hope you’ve had a chance to read!

      Hahaha! Some things are sacred!

      Well that’s my view!

  2. We’re in the same situation as you so I’m completely with you but I think it all depends on circumstance. Darren has helped me before in the nights because our children were relentless and he usually always takes over at the weekends. However, he also gets up anywhere from 4am and sometimes has long drives ahead of him so no matter what happens during the night I just get on with it as quietly ad possible because I’m so frightened he’d one day have an accident due to tiredness. The risk just isn’t worth it. But if he got up at 7am everyday I reckon I’d call upon him every now and then ?

  3. I couldn’t agree more! Justin gets up before 6am every morning and works a hard job both physically and mentally. Over the years his employees haven’t turned up for work many times. The excuse? “I’ve been up with the baby all night” I have always been totally gobsmacked by this: why couldn’t the wife/girlfriend take care of the baby? I certainly took it as my role; and like you would never in a million years have expected J to do it..he did give me the odd rub on the back as I lay breastfeeding and mutter “you’re amazing” and then go back to sleep. I never once felt resentful. Great post darling xxxx

    • Thank you my love. That’s my view but of course everyone is entitled to their opinion – and it seems this topic is a rather divisive one! xxx

  4. Great blog … my husband goes over and above to support at weekends and after work but he has a stressful job and manages a large team so I like to know he is as on the ball as he can be therefore I don’t expect him to do the night feeds .
    I bottle feed our newborn and he does the last bottle before bed so I can get some sleep before I do the night shift which includes newborn feeds and a toddler … sometimes it can be an eventful night .. xx

    • Thanks Rachel, your husband sounds similar to mine. And I consider myself lucky despite hubby not getting up during the night! xx

  5. susielhawes Reply

    I agree, especially if you’re breastfeeding. The first 2 weeks paternity leave my husband was up with me to help change my baby and help me get comfortable as I was struggling but once he went back to work I did it all and tried not to disturb him. Our toddler sleeps quite well but as I’m expecting again I think our plan will be for me to sort the baby and if the toddler wakes at the same time he can sort her out. But she only tends to wake if she’s unwell or in a new place… Though I’m wondering if that may change when the baby arrives! X

    • Precisely! My husband was brilliant during his leave and basically any time he’s not having to be focused for work. He’s great around the house and with the children during waking hours. And he helps with the toddler in the night if he hears her and I’m busy with the baby. x

  6. Not a mummy shamer Reply

    Seriously?! What is this drivel? Another example of women putting each other down and mummy shaming. So my husband sometimes gets up with the baby. Actually it’s more like he gets up half the time with the baby. You know, because we’re not in the 17th century anymore, and he actually considers being involved in this part of parenting as his responsibility too. Why should one parent be anymore exhausted than the other? Being at home with a small human is physically and emotionally relentless. If that person happens to be a mum (a massive assumption on the authors part) why does that mean that she should make a rod for her own back in some dated 50s housewife ambition of keeping her male partner (another assumption from the author) happy?! Just do whatever works for your family unit and f**k all this b******ks.

  7. Utterly unacceptably sexist! Not every dad is the main bread winner! Won’t be in our house as of Monday! And will still bloody have to get up! Sexist views like this should be kept to themselves! Your house isn’t my house, so don’t make such unacceptable for today’s societies assumptions! And I’m not even a hardcore feminist, this kind of drivel is what keeps the pay-gap and glass-ceiling for women firmly in place! Shame on you!

    • Sorry you feel this way, Sylvia, but I’m afraid you’ve made a few (incorrect) assumptions of your own. I’ll just direct you to my post responding to the negative comments here. Link above.

  8. I work a full time job with a 2 hour commute. My husbands commute is five minutes. Why should my children grow up without a mum because i have had an accident? Yes, if you dont work the argument against just living with the sleep deprivation is harder, but i also remember how relentless it is being the full time carer as it wasnt very long ago. Plus yes i breastfed. My husband ALWAYS did friday night though regardless as he had the sat night / sun night to recover. Now i’m working again, its 50/50.

    • Oh in your current situation I’d probably expect to be doing less than 50% of the night times! My argument applies both ways, regardless of which parent has the longest/hardest day at work.

  9. I’m uncertain as to which parent you’re referring to, or if both. Either way, I see your point. I just don’t see the benefit of getting a second (working) parent up in the night if the first parent is breastfeeding. As I said, for me, hubby is of more use when he’s well-rested. I’d prefer one of us at least to be on the ball!

  10. Thank you Nicola, you’re right. If roles were reversed then yes – I’d expect him to be getting up in the night. Although I don’t think that set up is very feasible if mum is breastfeeding – thank God for mat leave! It must be incredibly hard for those superheroes who somehow manage it.

  11. I felt I have to say that I agree with everything you said and then some. In my case I was breastfeeding twins and from the third night I moved the three of us to the babies’ room to make matters easier. I was on maternity leave for two years so I consider myself to be extremely lucky. I saw no reason for my husband to wake up in the night when he would have to be at work early in the morning. Besides, I would be the one to deal with his sleep deprivation grumpiness during the day as not everyone can handle it with the same amount of grace. Whereas some of our friends saw this as being unfair I would not change it for the world. Those quiet one on one moments with each baby for the first two years when I was breastfeeding exclusively were really precious and they are wonderful memories for me. Even when I returned to work full time, I still chose to be the one to get up for their every need for another year. When they were three I moved back to my own bedroom and the children never got up during the night but I feel it is because they had had enough of what they needed and were ready to sleep through the night. If my husband had been forced to wake up he would have tried to rush things and I would have missed out on so much. I can see how some people may not agree and I can respect that but it is different for every family and there is always a method that fits the specific circumstances as well as personalities in a family so there is no golden rule there. In my mind, the most important thing is to enjoy our children as much as we can and manage to stay sane through the adjustment period of the first years.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

      I couldn’t agree more – enjoying our young families is what’s most important!

  12. Jo - Pickle & Poppet Reply

    I get it! When I was on maternity leave I wouldn’t expect my husband to get up in the night, he had work to do the next day. If I was lucky I would be able to catch a quick nap if I needed to. Now I’m back at work and we both leave at the same time to go to work I do expect him to help out if he hears. To be honest I sleep much lighter than him so hear sooner but if late he has been dealing with our three year old if he wakes up in the night which has been a god send.

    I think you just have to do what works for you as a family and as parents.

    • Exactly! If I was going out to work then of course my expectations would be different. As it is, I live for the weekends when I know I’m due a break! 😉

    • exactly. It used to be like this in our house. Now roles have changed and I am at home so i’m the one getting up (most of the time) and doing much housework during the day. It’s what works for both partners involved and as long as it’s mutually agreed upon, it’s nobody else’s business to tell them they’re wrong. Neither is it sexist if it’s what everyone involved is happy with. Neither is anyone saying everyone has to do it like this.

  13. Amazing how ‘not a mummy shamer’ goes on to be a mummy shamer and mentions sexism. Projecting much? Nobody mentioned it being due to issues of sexist identity roles or that this should apply to everyone. It just works for her family.

    With our first I was determined to do my part on night feeda, i’d be jumping out of bed, getting the baby, taking him to my wife to be breastfed and then putting him back but we ended up just having the baby next to my wife’s side of the bed where he’d be scooped up and put back without my wife even needing to be fully conscious. We even tried expressing into bottle feeds as I really wanted to do night feeds but it just confused the baby. In the end, we both realised there was no point us being both exhausted, I worked full time, my wife part time from home and me getting up didn’t achieve anything as my wife had to be up anyway due to having the breasts.

    Now my wife works full time and i’m the stay at home parent, it’s me that gets up in the night to sort out anty problems, it’s me that often settles them down when my wife comes home exhausted.

    Don’t jump to conclusions or get on your high horse, it’s just what works for different people and nobody is forcing you to do the same.

  14. I can see this is an old post, but whatever, I agree. While I’m on maternity leave and breastfeeding then I get up at night. What on earth is the point in a person with no breasts trying to settle the baby??? If one of the older kids wakes my husband might deal with them – especially if I’m busy with the baby.

    Now I’m no longer breastfeeding and I’m back at work full time and my husband is part time we have a strict rota of whose night is whose. This allows both of us to catch up on sleep on our nights off…. I get more nights off because I work longer hours. It’s nothing to do with gender. It’s about resource management.

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