Last updated on Jun 21st, 2021 at 11:05 am
When we become first time (or even second or third time) parents to a newborn, we tend to worry about many different things. Is the baby eating enough and pooping enough? Are they sleeping too much during the day or not enough?
It can all become a bit overwhelming. It is mind boggling that a person so teeny tiny can run us ragged and make us question everything.
Well, as my gift to all of you new parents out there (whether it’s your first rodeo or not), I’d like to impart some wisdom that I have learned first through being a new parent myself and also through all of my training to become a child sleep consultant: Common mistakes that you should try to avoid when feeding your newborn in the middle of the night.
Mistake one: Turning on the light when it is supposed to be night
I too made this mistake when I was a first time mom. When my newborn awoke in the night to feed, I’d go into her room and turn on a light or two so I could properly see what I was doing while changing her nappy and latching her.
This is probably one of the worst things I could have done…
While I was in the process of trying to fix her day versus night confusion, I was sabotaging my efforts by turning on the lights. This sends the wrong signal to your little baby – one that implies; WAKE UP! Let’s interact!
While I recommend that parents make the daytime feedings as bright as possible, during the night I suggest that you accomplish the feed and everything that comes along with it in as much darkness as you possibly can. Why? Because we want the baby to learn that night time is boring and should be a time to sleep.
If you do need at least some light, make sure it is as low as possible and turn it off as soon as you no longer need it. This will help keep your baby’s body in the zone for sleep.
Mistake two: Late night TV
Sure, sitting in the dark while your baby takes her time feeding can be pretty tiring and boring. I know I thought turning on the TV would help keep me awake through the feed and also keep me entertained. Boy, I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s probably one of the worst things I could have done for my daughter’s sleep habits at night and my own.
Television equals entertainment. It also equals stimulation via picture and sound. Televisions emit blue light which is stimulating to the human brain. So while I was trying to keep myself entertained, I was also waking my brain (as well as my daughter’s) making it that much harder for me to go back to sleep once she was tucked back into her crib.
The sound was also a problem because it caused a distraction for my daughter. She should have been solely focused on eating, instead, she was torn between her hunger and all the action coming from the TV – which is why some of those early night feeds took forever.
Mistake three: Making eye contact with your baby
To help get you tucked back into bed sooner, I recommend that you do not make eye contact or talk to your newborn during those middle of the night feeds. By doing so you are stimulating your baby and rousing her more out of sleep.
While we don’t want to make a feeding a sleep prop (Heavens, no!) we also want the little mister or miss to get down to business and eat so they can go right back to sleep once finished. If you are not looking and smiling at or talking to your baby, he or she will soon realise that night time is pretty boring.
Fixing your mistakes
Making all the mistakes mentioned above? Relax, You can fix it. The great thing about a newborn is that they haven’t been around too long to form deep rooted habits. Tonight, follow the tips above and begin teaching your bundle of joy that night time is for sleeping and daytime is for interacting and play (as well as many, many naps).
If you are finding that making the transition to becoming a new parent is a bit harder than you thought it would be, I want you to know that you are not alone. We are available and more than ready to help you guide your baby on a path to healthy sleep habits.
About the Author: Good Night is a child and baby sleep consultancy that specialises in helping parents with children who struggle to sleep soundly. For more information, visit: www.goodnightbaby.co.za
Article Credit: Jennifer Snyder Schindele, Sleep Sense Consultant