Quick Tips for Nighttime Feedings
Welcome to parenthood. It is a time of snuggles and love, but it is also the time when you see 3 a.m. in a completely different way.
The moment you bring home your newborn, you know that you are in a whole new world of diapers and feedings. It is a responsibility, but your baby will make it worth it while as you watch them grow into a special little person.
Feeding your baby in particular takes a lot of time during the day. Just when you realize you are not propping your newborn for the next meal, they are rooting and whimpering for something to eat. Newborns sleep up to 16 or 17 hours a day. If you are lucky, you can see their open eyes for maybe two to four hours at a time during these first few weeks. Even at night it may feel like your baby does not know that other living creatures are asleep. By the time they are six months, your baby is more likely to sleep through the night which is more like five hours straight. After waking up every two to three hours, you’ll take it!
As a mother, you may be the primary caregiver during these first four to six weeks. Not only that, you are still recovering from childbirth or c-section. You are healing, but your baby’s needs must also be met. No matter how sleepy you are, you can make quick work of late night feedings so that both of you can get back to sleep.
Breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed your baby with all of its health benefits. Your baby gets the antibodies that protect them during their most vulnerable stage. It hydrates, nourishes, and adjusts to your baby’s dietary needs over time. It is also free. Once you get used to latching and the hold, your baby is ready to eat. There is no prep, no milk to warm, and nothing to clean up when you are done. For nighttime feedings, it is the quickest tip because you can stay in bed or sit in a comfortable chair that helps you keep your little one’s head elevated. You don’t even have to go into the kitchen. If you are co-sleeping with your baby or just have a bassinet nearby, your feet can stay warm under the covers.
Timing is crucial during those nights. No matter how tired you may be, your little one does not want to wait while their tummy is empty. The sooner that you can get to your baby while they are still groggy, the easier that you will find that your baby will go back to sleep.
Breastfeeding makes it easier to stay ahead of your baby’s cries, but bottle feeding takes more preparation and more wait time for your baby. There are a number of ways that you can shave a few minutes off of your best prep time:
Pre-mix your formula
When you pre mix your baby’s formula, it can last 24 hours in the refrigerator. You can have bottles already made or a dedicated, air-tight pitcher just for formula. All you have to do then is pour the amount into a clean bottle (if you have not already done so), and warm it up. There are even shortcuts for warming the bottle below.
Warm your formula and keep your hands free
You could heat up water in the microwave, but that takes time to prepare, time to warm the bottle, and don’t forget how loud the timer is. Consider investing in a bottle warmer. Another way is to utilize the hot and cold dispenser of your bottled water stand. Add hot water, then cold to find the balance of temperature for your baby.
Don’t. Stay. Up.
Your baby is burped and back in their crib for a few more hours of sleep. There is nothing to see at 3 a.m., so go back to bed. Don’t check emails, don’t clean the kitchen, don’t do anything that will keep you up later. You need sleep as well, even if you are trading morning feeding duties with your partner. Your baby needs you just as rested as you want them, so get back under the covers and get some rest. There is the possibility that you are still alert, but you won’t fall back asleep if you are staying up and active.
As your baby continues to grow, you will find that your baby will adjust to a schedule that gives both of you a chance to sleep longer through the night. This can be done with a late evening feeding and then a early morning bottle. Another way to keep them feeling full through the evening is Hipp Good Night formula. It is designed for babies six months onward because it contains cereal flakes for a thicker, more satisfying bottle.