The mother or the father?  Who gets up at night when baby cries?

The mother or the father? Who gets up at night when baby cries?

A recent study by the Ifop Institute for confirms an unequal and very glaring distribution of parental responsibility within the heterosexual couple, in particular during nocturnal awakenings of the baby.

3 o’clock in the morning, a cry splits the night. The author? A small being tall as three apples, offering a Greek tragedy to his young parents. Except that, in reality, it is not two but a single spectator who goes to the bedside of the infant. This is the conclusion drawn by a recent study by Ifop, commissioned by (1). In total, nearly 8 out of 10 women surveyed believe that they get up more frequently than their partner at night to meet the needs of their child under 3, reports this survey published Thursday, September 15.

Avoidance strategies, unbalanced bearings

First observation, women are quicker to react to the baby’s screams. On average, they get up twice as fast as men, reports the study, after 4.5 minutes against 8 minutes for fathers. Do these gentlemen suffer from nocturnal hearing loss? The survey sweeps away this pernicious received idea once and for all. 55% of fathers admit having already pretended not to hear their child cry, hoping that their spouse would get up first to take care of it (compared to 44% among mothers).

In an attempt to turn the tide, some homes say they have set up a rollover when waking babies up at night. But again, the reality is quite different. If 63% of parents say they have adopted this technique, only 25% of women believe that said bearing is balanced.

In video, “I am the load”, a short film by Margaux Heller

“This study shows that not only do mothers get up much more often than their partner, but also that they take on more of the mental burden associated with preparing their young children for sleep”, summarizes Louise Jussian, senior researcher at Ifop’s Politics/News department.

In fact, as these studies report, women pay more attention to the rhythm of sleep, to taking charge of the unexpected (nightmares, illnesses) when men take care of more daily or so-called “leisure” tasks (telling a story, change the diaper).

Disturbed sleep, marital disputes

This mental load is not without consequences. 44% of women report sleeping less well since becoming mothers compared to 33% of men. A British study published in the journal sleeping in January 2019 was also alarmed. During the first three months after childbirth, the mother loses a little more than an hour of rest per night while the father sees this time decrease by only 13 minutes, the researchers reported at the time. And this sleep could be disturbed up to six years after the birth of the child for both parents included.

What generate disputes for 66% of the parents questioned. “A form of protest is emerging, confirms researcher Louise Jussian. Particularly among women who say they are very feminist, who do not hesitate to reproach their spouses for their lack of involvement.

If the arrival of a child is obviously a happy event, what we hear less often is that the upheaval is such that it sometimes leads to a breakup. For the Franco-Israeli sociologist Illana Weizman, interviewed in a previous article devoted to the baby clash , “the child is the black hole of the couple”. “Before becoming a parent, we imagine that the arrival of a child can only weld a couple, confided to us the one who is also the mother of a little boy. We say to ourselves that motherhood is something wonderful and that a child, “it’s only happiness”. It can be, of course, but no, it’s not just that.


Back to top