A Parent's Guide to Nighttime Feeds With a Newborn
Navigating nighttime feeds with your newborn!
Your first baby has arrived! In the hospital you have lots of Nurses and IBCLCs to help you navigate days and nights. Once you arrive home, if you do not have Postpartum Overnight Support set up or family coming in to help, you will be on your own and we want to help you navigate all of this as easily as possible!
What can you expect with nighttime feeds?
The first week with your newborn is exciting and challenging. You are tired, but so excited to finally have your baby in your arms. You are processing your birth and figuring out what systems and schedules will work best for your family.
Newborns wake often in order to feed often, that is normal, as they become older ( 6-8 weeks) they begin to stretch their nighttime wakings and feedings out. Most newborns will wake to feed every 1-3 hours, that’s a big range, but you will know what your baby will do right away. They waste no time in figuring out if they will be fast feeders or snackers.
Setting yourself up for successful nighttime feeds
Preparation for the postpartum recovery period goes a long way! For nighttime and nighttime feeds, our biggest suggestion is a “supply box” to make feeding times quick, efficient and easy. Because the main goal is to feed and then GO BACK TO SLEEP!
If you have overnight support, your care team will be in the same room as your baby and bring the baby to you when they are ready to feed. When appropriate your care team can begin working on stretching those feeds out longer, because they do not need the sleep as much as you do.
If you do not have overnight support, focus on getting sleep in those first few weeks and work on a schedule starting around 4-6 weeks.
What goes in these “ supply boxes”? Diapers, water for you, an outfit change, if you are breastfeeding (nipple cream or anything you are using during or after feedings), a snack bar, if you are bottle feeding (supplies for setting up the bottle), and a small, non-invasive light.
The non-invasive light is important to create a more ‘nighttime’ environment verses a big bright light during each feed. We want your baby to begin to recognize nighttime aka sleep time as calm, quiet and mostly dark.
Take shifts if you can and go to bed early!
I know that’s the last thing you want to do, but taking shifts can be helpful, especially if you are bottle feeding, if you are not, still pass the baby to your partner or caregiver so that you can go to sleep immediately after a feed. Babies should go to bed around 6:30/7pm, let me repeat that, babies should go to bed around 6:30/7pm. Yes, they are waking every few hours, but make 6:30/7 their official time to begin nighttime and set them up for sleeping success later on!