It’s always humorous to hear how new parents respond the first few times their baby wakes up crying at night. Let’s face it, babies don’t come with instruction manuals, and most of us have plenty of funny stories of how we tried to help our babies get back to sleep at night. Of course, it doesn’t seem so funny at the time, when you’re sleep deprived and going crazy, but trust us, it’ll be funny later.
When a newborn wakes up at night, it’s usually because she’s hungry. Infants need to eat at least every four hours. Breastfed babies need to eat even more often, generally every two hours or so. Breast milk, while healthier for your baby, digests much more quickly in her little tummy, causing her to be hungry more often.
While most of us recognize that there is no way to get around night time feedings, we also want to help our babies fall back to sleep as soon as we can, so we can all go back to getting a little rest. The best way to do this is to keep night time feedings as boring as you possibly can.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that you don’t cuddle your baby or show her any affection. What it does mean is that you don’t turn on all the lights and make a big show of it, either.
The best way to feed your baby at night is to have a designated place somewhere that’s dark. Your baby won’t have any more trouble eating in the dark than in the light. If you need a little light to find bottles, wipes, burp cloths, or whatever, you might consider a night light or getting a lamp with a dimmer switch.
Don’t fuss too much over your baby when feeding her at night. It’s tough not to, we know. We all love our babies, and they are cute. But save the fuss for daytime feedings. Ideally, you want your baby to get the idea that it’s a whole lot more fun to be awake during the daytime than it is to be awake half the night.
After feeding your baby, if she hasn’t already fallen asleep at the breast or bottle, burp her gently and rock her back to sleep. If you speak at all, speak or sing softly to her. With any luck, you’ll both be sleeping again soon.