Having a baby is massively overwhelming.
Yeah. Every new mama I know these days spends a lot of her time googling all sorts of things. Especially how to make her baby sleep. Especially at night.
But you know what?
I found the long lists of “hacks to make night feeding easier” actually made me feel worse. It was like there were all these other things I had to try and do in addition to what I was already doing… how could I manage that??
And when I saw “10 rules of nights feeds” I knew that Google was no longer my friend. You mean there are actually rules?? I live to break rules. [Sshhh… don’t tell my husband! Although if I am honest he may already know…]
So me and Google had a bit of a weird standoff for a while over this whole there-are-rules-you-must-follow-for-night-feeding. For the record, it was me who gave in and came back to Google. To be honest, I’m not sure Google noticed my absence. I’ll try not to take it personally.
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Anyway, since I was overwhelmed by all the things I was supposed to do, I ended up doing things like maybe they would have done things back in the day:
I asked friends and family.
So I want to share with you these basic time-tested tips I was given that worked for us with two very different babies, both poor sleepers in one way or another.
Please read them as suggestions. THEY ARE NOT RULES.
The best mom advice I have ever been given was to listen to the advice (why is there so much of it?!?) but only ever try what seemed like it might work for you.
And also, each baby seems to have their very own night time feeding schedule although most are reasonably typical as a newborn, doing the needing to feed every 2-3 hours thing. So do please remember that we are all unique individuals and we do all have different ways of doing things.
Your baby will stop feeding at night at some point I promise you! And before you rush off to ask Google when that will be, most babies are large enough to go through the night without being fed from 4-6 months. It is more of a weight and development thing though so it is variable.
So on to the tips!
1. Set Up a Comfy Spot with Everything Ready
This made ALL the difference for me. Yes, I like to be organized, but mostly because I like things to be easy. I’m lazy. And night is not when my brain is working well. So I want all the possible things ready when I want them.
Your breastfeeding station (or pumping station, or formula station) will look different for each of us depending on how we’re feeding baby and what we need. For example, some moms will need to keep nursing pads on hand for the first few months to guard against leaks and sprays!
Here are the best of the suggestions I was given:
A comfortable place to sit
I needed a great seat.
This chair would have been perfect!
Or this one if you prefer putting your feet up (don’t mind if I do!)
But I stuck with having a foot rest with an ordinary couch. Something like this one.
And of course I needed a table next to it to put everything on!
During the first 7 weeks of my first baby’s life this included a breast pump for expressing my milk since sadly breastfeeding was too painful for me due to some odd complications… but I had milk so I didn’t want to waste it! Until a lactation consultant suggested very gently that I was really depressed and this much work was not worth it.
But during those weeks I was expressing while feeding, or just after I always, but ALWAYS wanted a snack of some kind. I could leave my snacks ready on the table so they were at hand.
And I often wanted a hot cup of tea… which means I needed…
A Quiet Kettle
So I needed a kettle that didn’t sound like a plane was taking off in our kitchen to make the whole house wake up for my cup of tea!
I really wanted it to be fast as well as quiet.
Honestly, ours was neither fast nor quiet, so I often had hot water in a thermos so that I could pour out an instant cuppa for myself.
Whatever works, right?!?
And after I stopped expressing and needed to make up formula for night feeds and wanted it fast and painless, the thermos was perfect then.
As a side note, lots of people talk about formula feeding being better for night feeds rather than breast feeding – all I can say is that every baby is different, so try things. My friends had different results for different kids. But mostly I think actually feeding your baby is the best thing to do. Breast probably is best, but fed is the most important! 😉
Again, so that we didn’t all find ourselves wide awake we needed very low lighting.
Some nights I actually used the light from the fridge while in the kitchen so I didn’t have to turn a light on in there.
For my usual perch I had a really seriously dim lamp. Just enough light to read if I wanted to, but not too much to announce to a child that it was time to wake up and play.
This lamp would have been amazing.
2. Make Changing Diapers Really Easy
As a first time mom, you might not realise that you don’t have to change your baby’s diaper at every feed.
For a while I did change my kids at night… it seemed mean not to.
But then I realized that they were fine and didn’t always need it. Plus, then they wanted to wake up and do stuff. Rather than go back to sleep…
So my main take away from this was: don’t make it like day time changes!
Avoid eye contact
Avoiding too much eye contact can help tell baby that it is not actually time to wake up and be playing.
Having whatever you need right at hand to do the job super-fast will also help.
I would have the diaper actually already opened and good to go, plus any wipes needed.
Use Easy to Maneuver Sleepwear
Oh and of course the baby needed to wear only the most easily opened and closed pajamas. None of these extra buttons and fiddly pushing-the-leg-into-this-hole type stuff that feels more like trying to solve a puzzle than dress a baby. No.
Some of our cutest pajamas languished in the drawer to be handed on to some other poor unsuspecting mother. Once was always enough for me to know that a pair of pajamas was not going to be my friend.
[I would like to say here that I do actually have a few friends and they are not only items of clothing or technology. But I think of myself as a friendly person. So things could at least try to be friendly back.]
Actually we kinda cheated. We used sleep sacks more. So little legs were not too wrapped up. Cath is also a fan of sleep sacks – though her favorites are these ones with the arms up. And by the way, just in case you’re wondering: you don’t need to take off the sleep sack/swaddle suit for feeds, it will actually help baby stay sleepy if you don’t. Don’t be like Cath, Cath took several months to work this one out!!
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3. Mental preparation
Since we’ve looked at what you need to get ready physically, we may as well look at attitude, right?
Yeah, my dad gave me talks about my attitude when I was a teenager.
I hated them.
I will try not to do that to you! Think of these as more ideas you can try 😉
Do not look at the time
Yes really. This was a good tip that was given to me too late to help my early despair. But it helps.
If you check the time, and it’s almost the first thing we all do, then you start to calculate how many hours of sleep you have had and how many you may possibly still get… and how many you are missing out on…
Just don’t do it to yourself. You are stronger than that!!
Listen to music
If you can’t keep your mind from thinking ALL.THE.THINGS (like me, which you may have guessed from the fact that I said I wanted enough light to read…) then maybe this will help you at least be in a doze while feeding. That can be restful even if you aren’t sleeping.
Just maybe keep it quiet music.
My husband liked Irish jig type music for rocking our son to sleep when he was small. He said the beat was right for the baby. Our daughter got Dolly Parton mostly.
Neither of these was ideal for night feeds! So instrumental relaxing stuff was the winner usually.
And yes, I had it ready beforehand!
Maintaining the routine
Once I had my routine for night feeding sorted out I kept it pretty much the same as much as I could. It helped me to be less alert myself by having everything just exactly where I expected it. And it made falling asleep easier once my little darlings let me.
Which means that yes, I did actually sort of, kinda make my own set of rules to follow for night-time feeds.
I know, I know, the irony.
Maybe I should have listened to Google to begin with.
Do you have your own set of non-rules for making night feeds easier?
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