Night feeds are tough and can take their toll both physically and mentally on new parents.
Newborns need to feed approximately eight times every 24 hours, leaving you with very little time for sleep.
Most parents find this period really difficult, so if you’re struggling, remember you’re not alone.
These are some ways you can make this difficult time easier.
1. Establish a regular feeding routine.
Even if your baby drifts off during day feeds or is napping, it’s better to wake them up and finish the feed. It's much better than having them wake up extremely hungry in the middle of the night.
2. Breast pumping
If you are breastfeeding, night feeds are especially tough. Try pumping some milk and storing it in a sterilised container in the fridge for night feeds, so your partner can share the responsibility.
But remember that pumping large amounts immediately after your milk comes in is not recommended, as your breasts will produce a lot more straight away. Wait until your baby is a few weeks old, and you can began pumping in addition to regular feeds.
If you have more milk than your baby can drink, pump the excess for night feeds.
3. Take advantage of any help offered
If you have a parent or friend who is willing to take over feeds for a night, take them up on their offer. Even one night’s good sleep will make all of the difference to you.
4. Keep the main lights off
Don’t turn on the main light while doing a night feed, if possible. Use a dim light or lamp to ensure your tot will be able to fall asleep again. If a bright light is on, they may think it is morning and stay awake.
5. Try not to interact during a night feed
You may be tempted to give your little one a cuddle when they’re looking sleepy and cute, but it’s better to keep interaction to a minimum. Chatting to your baby will only wake them up and you don’t want that. If they’re unsettled after the feed, you can wait and see if they’ll settle without any attention.
Try stroking their forehead or humming a lullaby to help soothe them, but don’t pick them up unless it’s absolutely necessary.
6. Don’t feed them until they wake themselves
Try not to wake your little one and leave them to wake up themselves for feeding. Unless your tot is an exceptionally good sleeper, they will let you know when they need feeding, it will usually be every two to three hours.
A newborn shouldn’t go for any longer than five to six hours without feeding.
Babies with weight issues will have different feeding requirements and do need to be woken at regular intervals.
7. Always burp the baby
If you don’t burp your baby properly, the trapped wind in their bellies will cause them pain, and they’ll wake you up to let you know!
8. Only change them if absolutely necessary
You may be tempted to change your baby’s nappy at feeds, but unless it is dirty or sodden, try not to as this will disturb them more.
Have a cosy chair you can sit in for night feeds. Sometimes your baby will need a long feed, so you may as well be comfortable.
10. Agree in advance who will do feeds, and stick to it
Try and work out a schedule of feeding so that you and your partner can share the feeds equally. If you don't want to divide it every night, then try alternating nights. At about eight to nine months, you can start the process of night weaning.