Life with a newborn can be exhausting. If you’re breastfeeding your baby on demand and unable to share feeds with a partner, night times can feel pretty relentless, particularly if your baby wakes every hour or two in that early newborn haze.
When your baby wakes for the fifth time that night and you slowly fumble your way to the nursery, it can feel like you’re the only person awake in the world.
Here are some tips on how to survive night feeds when you’re exhausted. The good news is, it DOES get easier!
- Don’t rush in too quickly – babies’ sleep cycles are naturally pretty short, meaning your baby will appear to stir and initially grumble when they wake up in the night. Waking however does not mean that they need you instantly. Babies can at times self-settle, so avoid rushing in too quickly and give them a moment to see if this is merely a sleep cycle change, or whether they are actually awake and hungry. You may save yourself an unnecessary exit from your bed!
- Use a nightlight – When you do go into your baby’s nursery, avoid turning on a bright overhead light that will stimulate and fully wake your baby. Instead, use a dim nightlight (ideally avoiding blue based lights) which can help create a warm and reassuring glow for your baby and help them feel comfortable in their surroundings. Most importantly, it can also provide enough light for you to navigate around the room whilst keeping your baby relaxed and calm.
- Don’t be tempted to talk or sing – Night feeds need to be as efficient as possible so you can all quickly get back to sleep, so avoid fully waking your baby by singing or chatting- this can confuse your baby into thinking it’s time to play. By limiting conversation, your baby will remain drowsy and tired, making a return to sleep much easier after their feed.
- Have everything you need close to hand – If you’re bottle-feeding, make sure you have everything you need close to hand so you haven’t got to be rummaging through cupboards or experience an avalanche of bottle lids when you go to make up their formula. It may also be helpful to have a bottle of water for you in the room if you are nursing and some diapers and baby wipes ready to go.
- Don’t rush the burping – As tempting as it may be to rush the post-feeding routine so you can get back to the warmth of your comfortable bed, don’t rush the burping – trapped wind will only make your child wake up again prematurely!
- Don’t be tempted to scroll through your phone – Whilst it’s important to stay awake when feeding your baby, scrolling through your phone whilst you’re settling them back to sleep is a risky approach. Not only can a blue screen actually mess with your sleep patterns and make it harder for you to drift off again, but looking at social media and news sites can also heighten your anxiety or overstimulate your mind. The last thing you need is to be awake unnecessarily when your baby isn’t! If you find reading helps, stick to reading on a Kindle, which comes with a more calming effect (depending on the book genre of course!)
- Remember it’s a phase – On the tough nights, remind yourself that the older your baby gets, generally the longer they will go between feeds. Whilst it may be difficult to have your sleep so regularly disturbed, things will and do get easier. Stay strong!