6 ways to conquer the baby night feeding
So you’ve recently found out you’re going to be a dad or maybe you’ve just released that information to the world when you start hearing this all too familiar phrase. “Get sleep now while you still can!” I didn’t understand this before becoming a dad. It’s almost like they were telling you to save up sleep and bank it for when you really needed it. Oh if only it worked like that. Baby night feeding is a beast all on its own and in any case, we knew that one thing was true, they were right. Your world is about to change and your precious cat naps and Sunday afternoon slumbers are about to disappear. So, get some sleep now, while you still can 😉
To get you ready for what’s to come I’ve put together a list of 6 things that not only helped my wife and I conquer the baby night feeding that robbed us of our precious beauty sleep but also how to get more sleep ourselves.
This helped us more than we knew it would at the time. Though it was a slow start, what we were doing was training our boys to remain sleeping while satisfying their inevitable hunger. The way it works is sometime before you and your partner turn in for the night you prep a bottle and get ready to feed your baby. The goal is for them to remain asleep while you give them the bottle. This works the same way if you’re breastfeeding. Slow movements are important as you want them to remain in their catatonic state.
Be careful not to look at, speak to, or make funny noises at them. As the name states they should be dreaming while feeding. I’ll go further into this shortly, but any eye contact, excessive kisses or “baby talk” can potentially wake them and thus defeats the purpose of the dream feed. It may seem hard at first but this will enable them to keep sleeping longer, therefore giving you some much needed extended sleep. For more details click here.
For months I kept an espresso machine in the room adjacent to the nursery ready and stocked with grinds so that by the first little peep I could jump up, press the button and within a minute I would have myself some (somewhat) fresh espresso. I know what you’re thinking, “COFFEE at night, I thought I was trying to get MORE sleep?” Trust me, if you haven’t been there yet and experienced sleep deprivation (like I have) then you’ll figure out one thing, no amount of caffeine at 2:37 am will keep you awake longer than you NEED to function.
This jolt of energy was just the thing I needed to open my eyes enough to change a diaper or two, drop the bottle in the warmers and get those boys eating. It’s important to note that once the feed is finished you need to fill the espresso cup again and have it ready for the next feed. Your future self will thank you.
Turn the lights off, baby
This is the most important point I’ll share on this topic. This will make or break your baby night feeding experience. Do not pass this one by. Keep the lights off. Initial thoughts, “how am I going to see what I’m doing?” Simple answer, your eyes will adjust. Think of it this way: when you were a kid and you maybe slept in too long and your mom came in and drew back the curtains allowing the morning sun to come on rushing in how much did this make your morning? You probably muttered some expletives and buried your head under the pillow. Needless to say, you were now awake and you weren’t happy about it.
It’s the same for your baby. The visual stimulation created by that rush of light will immediately break them from their peaceful slumber and make it that much harder for them to get back to sleep and, subsequently, you getting back to sleep. Yes, this means you will be changing some dirty nappies in the dark, but trust me, your eyes will adjust. We’re conditioned for this. If you really need it (and we often did) the screen light from our phone (on low) is often all you need to shine some quick light on your baby’s behind to make sure nothing was…left behind.
Don’t talk to me
Similar to light, any other visual or auditory cues can snap your baby back from Neverland without even thinking about it. I get it, they’re super cute, smell so good and all you want to do is make faces at them and kiss them. BIG MISTAKE. Use a bit of common sense here. I’m not saying to shut off your emotions and ignore your baby, but tread lightly. Play time should be reserved for the daytime and over stimulation will confuse your baby and hinder their eventual adjustment to day and night time, specifically for newborns.
Sleep when baby sleeps
This should go without saying as we hear it all the time but it’s important to sleep while your baby does. I know what you’re thinking. “But what about the dishes? or the laundry? But there’s a new episode of Riverdale, I need to…blah blah blah”. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to maintain your home. You’ll need clean dishes and laundry but not at the expense of losing your sanity and going delusional because you’re running a mile a minute. The state of your mental health is the most important part of this equation. If you’re not awake and alert you cannot be the best parent you can be. The house will get clean, the dishes will get washed eventually, besides, that’s what grandparents are for 🙂 You can also take turns napping if you are able to both be home at the same time and give one another a break.
Two are better than one
I’m going to give this to you from two angles. To the parents of multiples, you’re both getting up to feed the babies. Guys, do not leave mom to do it on her own. Remember, getting back to bed is the most important thing here. When we brought our boys home they were 50% breast fed and 50% bottle fed. My wife would either feed them both or one at a time depending on how the feed was going and when she was done we would trade and I would top them up with the bottle.
Dads of singletons, you’re not totally off the hook. “She breast feeds the baby so there is nothing for me to do.” Trust me, there is plenty you can be doing. Keeping in mind she wants to get back to bed just as badly as you – it’s key to work as a team. Here are some ways you can assist in a speedy feeding. Grab her a drink (breastfeeding moms need to drink lots of fluids), offer to bottle feed baby breast milk while mom pumps (if this is something you do), provide emotional support. Talk to your doctor about this one as I’m not qualified to give professional advice, but one thing that worked for us was to breastfeed during the day all while pumping so that on the overnight feeds we could give the boys warmed breastmilk in a bottle. This is great for when mom needs that extra rest, dad can tackle the feed on his own and not feel on the outside. This is a great bonding opportunity with your baby, as well.
Well, there you have it, I’ve listed 6 points here that worked for us, but like anything there are a million ways to butter bread. Try some things out, fail, readjust and find what works for you. There is no harm in trying. Good luck out there.
Until next time…
The Unfit Dad