Depending on your baby’s age, you’re likely to have to get up at least once in the night – sometimes you’ll be up and down like a yo-yo – and as each feed can take a least 30 minutes, you’ll be missing quite a bit of precious sleeping time.
Surprisingly, the lost hours of sleep aren’t the biggest issue. “The exhaustion actually comes more from the continual disturbance of your sleep pattern,” says Sam Saunders, community nursery nurse at Watford General Hospital and maternity nurse for BabyWorks. So, how can you make the constant getting out of bed to feed your baby less of a grinding chore?
Prepare your or your baby’s bedroom
Obviously having your baby in your bedroom will make feeding at night easier, but whether he’s in yours or his own, leave out:
- A feeding pillow
- Clean bedding
- Clean clothes
- A glass of water for you
“If you’re breastfeeding, wear night clothes that have easy access for feeding too,” says Sam.
Also, don’t forget to use a nightlight as this will stop you and your baby waking up fully, and your partner if you’re feeding in the same room.
Prepare feeds as much as you can
It’s much easier to night feed if you’re breastfeeding. But if you do happen to be using a bottle at night prepare your steriliser before you go to bed, and have everything laid out ready to go on the kitchen worktop to save yourself some valuable sleep time.
Feed your baby straight away
If you’re sure your baby’s crying in hunger, it’s a good idea to feed him straight away. “If he cries for too long before you offer a feed, he may give himself wind which will make feeding difficult,” says Sam. “He could also get too tired or upset to take a full feed and will then wake up again sooner than if you’d fed him quickly in the first place.”
Share the night feeding with your partner
If you’re bottlefeeding, make sure your partner is taking an equal part in the getting-up responsibilities. “It’s actually better to do one night on, one night off as opposed to longer stretches of a couple of nights together,” advises Sam. It’s easier to catch up on sleep one night at a time rather than letting it build up after being on night duty three nights on the trot.
“Ask your partner to do the last feed before putting your baby to bed when it’s your turn to do the night shift as then you can go to bed earlier and have a longer stretch of sleep before waking for the next feed,” adds Sam.
Sleep when you can!
“Try not to lie in bed waiting for your baby to wake up because you know it’s only a short while away,” says Sam. “Instead teach yourself to fall asleep the moment he’s settled.” The key to doing this is going to bed feeling relaxed, so whether it’s a bath, a warm drink or a shoulder rub from your partner that helps you switch off, try and do it every night before hitting the sack.