Let’s talk “Night Shift”. Seriously, It’s hard enough to wake up a few times a night (or up all night for some of the unlucky ones- Yikes!), so let’s make the dreadful Night Shift less painful.
Set a game plan for the night. Be prepared. Well, at least as prepared as possible… There is no need to make things more difficult by fumbling around at 3am desperately trying to assemble a bottle or searching for a change of clothes because your little one decided it was a great time for a shit explosion. Trust me, you’ll need all the help can get. Have your supplies set up and ready each night before going to bed.
Feeding – prep your bottles, bottle warmer (if using) filled and ready to go.
Nursing- make sure your nursing pillow is nearby. For night feeds, I suggest you sit up and feed (unless you’re reeeeeally that confident you won’t fall asleep). It’s just too easy to drift off while in the lying position with baby! Another option is to have someone to spot you, just in case.
Burping -Not always easy in the early days, but it does get better. Spend a little time trying before giving up. Sometimes it comes up after you put baby down, which means you might have to pick baby up one last time for that good burp.
Changing area – make sure to have changing gear stocked and ready to go with diapers, wipes, a fresh pair of jammies, burp cloths, and a swaddle. You want everything accessible rather than having to dig through drawers for something that actually fits.
Diapering -You will be changing your newborn during the night at least twice, if not more. Do change before you feed, even if baby is fussy or upset. Just get it done. Keep lights as low as possible and make it quick! Also, save the chit-chatting and interacting while you’re working through changing and feeding at night, or you can pretty much expect to be doing that for the next few hours. Changing after a feed will stimulate baby to wake up once you’ve fed, burped and gotten baby ready to put back down until next feed. I guarantee you’ll regret it!
Swaddle – Swaddle every time you put the baby down to sleep. If you suck at swaddling like many people do, use the” miracle blanket” or the “swaddle me”. Newborns need to be swaddled. If you think your baby hates to be swaddled, you’re wrong! They typically fuss while getting swaddled up, but enjoy the comfort almost immediately after. So many parents don’t understand how much swaddling helps with baby’s transition from womb to life, just my opinion of course.
Bassinet – Babies do tend to sleep better in the close quarters of a cozy bassinet. They’re also much easier to move from room to room. If you’d rather skip the bassinet and use a crib, do it. Your choice. Just pick a place and stick to it. You want baby to become familiar with sleeping in their own space.
Sound machine – The constant sound of white noise simulates the sounds of the womb, which is comforting to your baby. Also, muffles out noise from the rest of the house that could wake your perfectly sound-asleep baby. So, turn the volume up! Use it for bedtime and naps. If you’re worried about it becoming a “crutch”, don’t! It’s really not difficult to eliminate the sound machine later on.
Lights/Dark Room – This where you develop night vision. Keep the lights off the during night. Make sure the baby isn’t placed where outside light can shine through and disturb sleep. The moonlight is just as distracting as sun light when it’s beaming through just enough to wake your baby. Also,during the midnight madness of feeding and changing, keep lights as dim as possible. The last thing you want to do is let your baby think it is time to wake up and start the day.
Room temperature- ideally it should be between 69-72 degrees at night. Clearly, all homes are different. So, make sure baby’s room is normal, comfortable. Not stuffy or cold. If baby’s face is cold, then obviously the temp needs to be turned up. Even though mom may be sweating like a beast (thanks postpartum hormones…) the room temp for baby should always be specifically adjusted to baby’s needs.
Stirring – newborns make noise. It will take a week or two to get used to. Unless it’s time to wake for a feed, don’t rush to pick baby up. Give your baby a minute to settle on their own. They’ll let you know when they’re absolutely ready to be picked up.
SLEEP WHEN YOUR BABY SLEEPS!!- Go right to sleep once you’ve put your baby down to sleep. You DO NOT have to stay up staring at your baby all night. Your existence will be solely based on “Power Naps” if you don’t have any night help. Which basically means that the longest stretch of sleep you’re going to have at one time will be a max of 3 hours, if you’re lucky. Don’t make it harder than it has to be. Rest at every chance you get, or it will be even harder getting through the night, which isn’t safe for baby. You WILL wake when your baby needs you. If you’re worried about not hearing your baby, set your phone alarm (Not Blaring of course) for every 2 hours so that you can peek in on baby and get a little rest without worrying as much.
I can’t say that you’ll ever sleep as you did before kids, but you will learn to manage your nights better to get some decent rest. Master those power naps, at least for a little while!