Ah, night wakings….
Young babies still need to eat during the night, so getting out of bed to feed your baby is a necessity. But night after night of interrupted sleep can catch up with you and make you feel like the walking dead when you make that sleepy trek to the crib.
Worse still is when your baby just won’t settle after feeding and you spend what feels like hours rocking and soothing, only to have your child wake up the second she lays her little head down.
Fortunately, there are ways to make the process less painful. Here are some tips to help make night feeding faster and less exhausting for everyone:
First of all, remember that it’s not your job to put the baby down asleep. Nothing is more frustrating than feeding your baby for 20 minutes and then having to spend another half-hour trying to get him back to sleep. Soothing your child to sleep every time you feed him will just set you up for more frustration down the line, as your baby will not learn to self-soothe. The key to cutting out night feeds is to ensure your baby stays awake for the feeding and you the put him back in the crib awake. If he really starts to cry, pick him up briefly and give him a little cuddle before laying him back down again.
I always recommend starting the night feed with a diaper change to ensure your baby is awake enough to take a great feed. Keep the lights down low. Artificial lights interrupt melatonin and can seriously affect your child’s ability to go back to sleep. You can keep a dim light on in the hall, but you don’t want full light in the room or your baby will not be able to settle easily. It’s also important to keep any electronics with lights (alarm clocks, stereos, laptops etc.) out of the baby’s room, as the light they emit will also affect melatonin.
Keep things business-like. It’s not party time; you just want to feed your baby and put her down and go back to bed. Keep your voice quiet and gentle and don’t greet your baby with too much excitement. The more enthusiastic you sound, the more your baby will think it’s time to play, not sleep.
Even when you remain calm and quiet and keep the lights low, your baby still might not settle right back to sleep. But don’t panic and pick him right back up again if he squawks or cries a little. Wait and see if he will fall asleep on his own. Remember that this phase won’t last long, and soon your baby (and you!) will be able to sleep through the night.