Celine Dion recently joked that the reason expectant mothers have to wake up every couple of hours to use the bathroom is God’s way of training them for the four to five months after baby is born, when they will have to wake up every two hours or so to breastfeed. We don’t know whether that’s the case or not, but we do know that babies wake up every couple of hours for the first several months of their lives, and we know that can be awfully draining on a new mom and dad.
Babies wake up every two to four hours for at least the first four months of their lives. The main reason for this is that babies’ stomachs are small and they can only hold so much breast milk or formula. When they wake up, it’s usually because they are hungry.
Of course, baby waking up means that mom and dad need to wake up, too. If you are breastfeeding your baby, this means that a rather disproportionate amount of the night time parenting falls on mom’s shoulders. And believe us, we know this can be trying at times.
One of the most important things you can do for yourself and your baby is to stay calm during night time parenting. Not only is it good for you emotionally, but it will help your baby fall back to sleep sooner if you are able to keep some degree of serenity while baby is awake and fussy.
Everyone’s different, and what keeps us calm may not be the same thing that works for you. With that said, though, here are a few suggestions we’ve found helpful through those long nights when we only get a couple of hours’ sleep at a time:
- Pray. You’d be surprised how many studies back up the idea that trusting in a higher power and praying helps you to relax. We’re not trying to push religion on you here, but praying really does help us to stay calm.
- Herbal Tea. Caffeine free herbal tea, especially chamomile tea, can really help take the edge off your nerves. Consider putting a tea kettle on when you are first getting up and getting ready to take care of baby. Better yet, ask your partner to do it.
- Sharing the load. Even if you are breastfeeding, your partner can contribute to night time parenting. Just because he can’t feed baby doesn’t mean that he can’t pitch in with the rest of night time parenting. Don’t be afraid to ask him to do his part. Most men really do want to be a part of baby’s life. Some just need a little nudging.
- Soft music. Playing some soft music while you are tending to baby can help keep your nerves calm, and may even help baby fall back to sleep faster.