Routine is important for babies, and there’s definitely an art to night-time feeding. Whether you’re bottle-feeding, or breast-feeding, managing to keep a hungry baby calm, get food into them quickly enough that they don’t wake the rest of the household and get the baby back to sleep before you lose your own marbles takes skill, effort and a special bond with your kid.
Feeding my little girl at night, at first took upwards of two hours but over the last three months as I’ve become more experienced, I’ve managed to boss it.
Obviously, every child is different, but here’s how our night-times pan out.
Routine is important
8.30pm: Announce to partner that as we’re all so tired, we’ll get an early night tonight. Start to wind baby down with classical music and low lighting. Change her into sleepsuit.
9pm: Baby is wide awake, full of beans and wants to play. Do best to ignore baby, but she’s making cute faces and giggling and obviously if I’m not receptive to her needs, I’m a bad mum.
9.45pm: Play ‘boop’ and ‘marching’ with baby. Become wracked with guilt that I’m actually a bad mum, since surely she needs sleep instead of games?
10pm: Baby is still awake. Am sick of Mozart. Pick baby up and walk around the house aimlessly, bouncing and singing out-of-tune classic rock songs.
10.10pm: Change nappy. Baby screams as if being attacked by wolf and becomes oddly resistant to wearing sleepsuit.
10.30pm: Try to reason with baby. Offer bribes. Jiggle baby up and down.
Try not to stab your partner
11pm: Partner arrives to ask why baby is crying and why she’s not in bed yet. Thrust baby into partner’s arms and flounce off. Get ready for bed and collapse onto bed.
11.05pm: Partner brings sleeping baby into bedroom and places her gently down in crib.
11.07pm: Baby starts to fidget, mutter and writhe.
11.10pm: Baby is wide awake.
11.11pm: Baby is crying. Try to ignore this fact.
11.15pm: Get baby out of crib for cuddles, more food and another slow jiggling walk around the house.
11.59pm: Baby is out cold. Place gently in crib. Collapse into bed.
The night time feed
2.59am: Wide awake and filled with unnamed dread for no apparent reason.
3.01am: Baby starts to twitch, whimper and shift in crib.
3.02am: Hold breath, hope baby goes back to sleep.
3.03am: Baby is thrashing in crib and sucking at her fingers. Bolt downstairs for bottle of expressed breast milk. Fall over baby bouncer, step on squeaky toy and the cat’s tail.
3.05am: Bolt back upstairs in frantic effort to get baby out of crib and into nursery before she starts screaming the house down.
3.06am: Sit on chair, wrap blanket around self and get bottle into baby’s mouth in a single motion. Crisis averted.
These moments are precious
3.07am: The night is still and perfect. She’s warm in my arms, burrowing tightly against me. The nursery looks peaceful and the world is still and quiet. My partner and the love of my life sleeps peacefully in our bedroom. Life is pretty good.
3.08am: Why is HE tucked up in bed and I’m the one feeding her? Lazy bastard. He’s all smug and lying there and warm and asleep and I’ve just nearly given myself a heart-attack trying to keep her quiet so he can get some sleep. What about MY sleep?
3.15am: Bloody hell. Is she asleep? She looks so peaceful. I’m so lucky. Look at her. The way her head fit into my hand, the way she smiles in her sleep when I stroke her head. I’m so lucky.
3.20am: Fuck. Forgot to change her nappy. I could just put her back down, but that would definitely make me a terrible mum.
3.21am: Place her gently on changing mat. Ease her out of sleeping suit, trying not to wake her.
You’re doing amazing!
3.22am: Baby is wide awake. Baby is having a wonderful time showing off how she can move her arms and legs at once, and doesn’t want to relinquish her nappy.
3.23am: Nappy is off! I’ve got this!
3.24am: Baby has peed all over herself. Sleeping suit is sodden. Changing mat is a pee swimming pool. Baby is still showing off her marching skills, splashing pee all over the nursery, herself and me.
3.25am: Baby is now wide awake, butt-naked and would prefer not to have a nappy on, it seems.
3.27am: Nappy is on! …Baby is screaming the place down.
3.28am: Fresh sleepsuit aquired. Baby is oddly resistant to wearing clothes.
3.29am: Baby is mostly into the sleepsuit. I’m amazing under pressure.
3.30am: Baby has one leg in a sleeve, because I’ve got the bloody thing sideways.
3.31am: Baby is screaming blue murder.
Best mum EVER
3.32am: Partner appears in the doorway wanting to know what all the noise is about and pointing out that he has to go to work in the morning.
3.33am: Partner does a hasty retreat after I hurl a pack of baby wipes at his head.
3.40am: Success! Baby is in sleep suit. Pick her up for cuddles and to soothe her, trying to get her back to sleep.
3.55am: Baby is asleep. Excellent!
Be mindful of your neighbours
3.57am: Neighbour who goes to work at 4am on his exceptionally loud vintage motorbike goes to work. Bike roars up the road. Baby is awake.
4.30am: Baby is still awake. Feed baby. More cuddles, gentle song and quiet pleading and bribery.
5am: Baby is asleep! Do that floppy arm test thing to make sure she’s properly out and then collapse into bed.
5.15am: Can’t sleep.
Remember: You need rest, too
5.20am: What was the name of the guy who played that character in that TV show? Why are carrots orange? Why is the theme tune to Scrubs stuck in my head? Remember that super-embarrassing thing you did that time at college?
5.30am: I really need to sleep. Relax. Clear your mind….
6am: Partner’s alarm clock goes off. Loudly. We are all awake now. I’m amazing at being a mum.