Whether your baby eats at fixed times or is fed on demand, it is very likely that you will have to get up at night, sometimes even more than once, because he is hungry.
It is an inevitable physiological phenomenon and the explanation lies in the fact that the baby’s stomach empties every 3 or 4 hours.
So as a mom, you have to keep in mind that as much as you try to prepare yourself before the birth, the reality of night feeds will hit you hard once you and your baby are back at home.
Since night feeds are inevitable, parents having to wake up several times a night may fear that they will never get a good night’s sleep ever again. It may be difficult, but you can get through them!
First of all, you can easily survive the middle-of-the-night feedings once you have accepted that they are a fact and cannot be avoided. Following this, there are several things you can do to make night feeding easier to cope with, to make it easier to fall back asleep afterward.
Nighttime breastfeeding – What to do during night feeds?
Prepare your baby’s bottles for the night feeds
In order to survive the nighttime breastfeeding, you should prepare everything before you go to bed so that once your little one starts crying, everything just needs to be picked up.
Make up bottles with formula and store them in the fridge and have nappies, wipes, and cream all close at hand.
This will reduce the baby’s frustration, minimize crying and mean that you can spend much less time up when you want to be in bed.
If you are formula feeding your baby, you can also alternate with your partner, giving you more rest.
Of course, breastfeeding is the most convenient way to feed a child; it is available at any time and is always the perfect temperature, although it does mean that it is the mother who has to do all the night shifts!
Make your surroundings comfortable and practical. Leave a nightlight on in corridors or landings so you can easily get from room to room without bumping into things, but make sure to keep the lights dimmed.
Bright lights are disruptive and can disturb that ‘nighttime’ feeling. Make sure that you are settled in a comfortable chair to feed your baby, with back support to prevent muscle, back, and neck strain.
Lying on your side when feeding is an especially restful position for both mother and child and you can do this whilst still in bed. On the same note, make sure your baby is also made as comfortable as possible.
Don’t Stimulate the Baby
As tempting as it may be to play with your baby, try to keep stimulation to a minimum. Focus on the feed and then on getting the baby back to sleep.
Try not to speak and avoid eye contact. Also, try to keep your baby’s temperature regulated with a sleeping bag, blanket, or swaddling cloth as this minimizes disruption.
It may be easier to avoid fully rousing your baby if he sleeps in close proximity to you, as the child then spends less time awake.
Keep calm to make late night feeding easier
Do everything as quietly and calmly as possible; the less disturbance that is caused, from waking other children to exciting the dog, the easier it will be just to slip back into bed.
Rather than thinking about things that you need to tackle the next day, spend your feeding time relaxing your mind. Peaceful thoughts mean peaceful sleep.
Here are additional tips to make nighttime bottle feeding easier
Try not to get upset because you could pass your restlessness on to your baby: trying to cut out night feedings too early to get your baby used to sleep is completely useless. Your child will naturally lengthen the time between feedings when the time comes
Even if you feed the baby at a fixed time, avoid waking him up and interrupting his sleep. He will thus get used to sleeping continuously and will end up sleeping all night long.
At the end of the feed, after letting baby rest against your shoulder for a moment to burp him, put him back down without rocking him or singing him a lullaby: this way you will get him used to go back to sleep on his own, without the need for external stimuli.
It will also prevent you from waking up completely and you will be able to fall back to sleep more easily.
When do babies stop feeding at night?
Feeding at night should be avoided for a child who is 9, 10, 11 months old.
He will produce endorphins by sucking the nipple or bottle: these are the hormones of pleasure, well-being, which soothe.
And basically, does the child need to be soothed by producing endorphins, or else, a caress, a presence when he begins to get agitated, isn’t that enough to help him to continue his night without necessarily feeding him?
So the feeding at night, little by little, we will stop it and instead do other things to make the baby feel the presence of the parents. We can also review the diet of the day, put vegetables in the evening so that it lasts longer.
And then, there can also be other reasons for the baby to wake up during the night, maybe he is not clean, something in the diaper is bothering him, and that may be what he needs: to have his diaper changed, and not necessarily feeding him.
With planning and preparation, late-night feeds can cause minimal disruption and could even afford you some extra sleep.
Remember, night feeds are not forever and your baby will quickly grow out of nighttime feedings. Rather than resenting them, take the time to appreciate it as bonding time with your baby!