We’ve all been there. Baby wakes up in the middle of the night, needing to be fed or changed, then decides it’s time to party all night. In the end, baby stays up half the night, and mom doesn’t get any sleep. There has to be a way to help an active baby go back to sleep at night.
There is, but it has more to do with how we handle baby’s feeding time than with the time we spend actually trying to help baby go back to sleep. A little planning ahead goes a long way when it comes to handling nighttime feedings or changings.
This assumes that you’d like to sleep through most of the night, of course. If you don’t mind being up half the night and sleeping the day away with baby, there’s no harm done. Babies will generally manage to get all the sleep they need one way or the other. Young babies aren’t really aware of the difference between daytime and nighttime until we instill that awareness into them.
Assuming you want baby (and mommy) to go back to sleep after you’re done feeding or changing her, you’ll want to make nighttime feedings and changings as boring as possible. That doesn’t mean they can’t still be bonding times. It just means that they’re not active play times. By keeping things as uninteresting as possible, you take away a lot of baby’s motivation for staying awake.
Here are some things you can do to help keep things low key during nighttime feedings and changings:
- Have one designated area where you take care of nighttime changings and feedings.
- Keep the area dark or dimly lit.
- Make sure you have all of your nighttime parenting supplies (diapers, wipes, bottles, burp cloths, blankets, etc.) ready and at hand so you don’t need to look for them when it’s time to take care of baby at night.
- Avoid overstimulation. Resist the temptation to play, coo, or otherwise indicate to baby that this is time to have fun.
- Take care of baby’s needs as simply and quietly as you can.
It might take a few times before baby catches on that there’s nothing to do or see after she’s been fed and changed at night. In most cases, though, babies will quickly figure out that night time is for sleeping.