Implementing a Nighttime Routine

Okay, so you are probably wondering by 12 weeks into development why your baby only sleeps an hour and half in between feeds some nights, and three and a half hours in between feeds other nights. The first year with baby can be a journey of the unknown, but it’s important to know that you are not alone in this venture. Many families struggle to attain a regulated schedule, even more so as we grow older and maybe even larger in number.

In terms of an infant, they have no concept of time or as my fellow Doula professional Allison Coleman of Austin Baby Guru says, “Babies don’t have a concept of your culture, in fact children don’t really gain an understanding of your family’s culture until the age of 5-7.” So, establishing a night time routine can be a good way to implement indicators that an infant can grasp.

Before we get into the thick of it, I want to make it clear. Night time routines are a practice, I can not guarantee magic with starting a night time routine as an infant’s needs are forever unpredictable. Also, consider the age of your baby. Babies younger than 8-12 weeks are often still developing so much, that it is unlikely they will trend anywhere near a regular routine. I encourage you to be patient, and more importantly to observe your child. You are already taking note of their likes and dislikes on an unconscious level, give yourself some grace, in order to tap in to your natural parenting instincts.

Infants are incredibly sensitive to their surroundings. Starting a nighttime routine can be as simple as turning the lights low, closing curtains, turning off any TVs or music playing in the house, and speaking in a soft tone of voice. When I work overnight with my families, one of the first things I do is go around and turn off unnecessary lighting. Believe it or not, your baby can tell a difference, even if they are not in the room.

One of my favorite things to do once the lights are low is run a warm bath for baby. Not all babies find bathing relaxing, but if your baby does a nightly bath is a great way to change the pace. No need to soap baby up every night, a warm water soak is just fine when baby isn’t too stinky. A nice segue from bath time would be a massage with lavender lotion. Make sure to diaper your little one first to avoid being tinkled on (this is advised for both boys and girls). I like to recommend coating baby’s bottom with either a mineral oil or any other food grade oil, so any yucky diapers filled overnight won’t irritate baby’s skin. Massage helps stimulates baby’s touch and smell senses and offers a form of aromatherapy. This practice can also benefit baby’s digestion, so you can lie them down on their back with less discomfort after a feed.

Once your little one is all soft and smelling delicious, you’ll want to dress them in clothing opposite of their daytime attire. I often recommend that parents dress babies in onesies during the day, and then switch them over to footy pajamas, or long-sleeved nightgowns at night. By juxtaposing the styles, it creates another indication in the change of day to night.

After baby is cozy you can do a few different things. This would be a nice place to implement any cultured practices already taking place in the house. Some families do story time, other families have a nightly prayer, it can be whatever your interpretation is, as long as it falls in the relaxed state of affairs.

Once your quiet interaction is finished you can start some white noise, or lullabies (if you so choose). Maybe you are an essential oils enthusiast, start a defuser with a soothing sent for baby’s room. Than nurse one more time, burp, swaddle and off to their bed they go.

This nighttime routine can take anywhere from 30 min-2 hrs, and can be as flexible to your schedule as you need. It should help baby sleep a bit longer into the evening, giving you a little break before their next feed. If they aren’t up in time for their normal feed, you can always keep them swaddled, and feed them in a sleep state. This is what we call a dream feed. I recommend doing this right before you go to sleep. This way baby will continue to sleep further into the evening, allowing you to attain more sleep before the next feed. One word of advice to any nursing parents, the feed may not be as full on as other feeds, so be sure to pump and empty before going to sleep.

A night time routine may not make any difference in your baby’s behavior at first. As stated before, this is a practice. Try and use it as an opportunity to check in with your baby daily and just enjoy some quiet interaction at the end of the day. You could even utilize it to implement your own nighttime routine some nights and pass the torch to partner. How ever you decide to utilize this information, make it your own. Parenting is about making confident decisions for your family and allowing yourself to change it up occasionally.

The Ergonomics of Postpartum Recovery: Nursing Support

Whether you're breastfeeding or bottle feeding, our posture is a factor. You have spent the last nine months supporting a completely different center of gravity, so our tendency to slouch is much greater now. There is an abundance of accessories on the market that you can get to help prop baby up closer to you. More specifically for breastfeeding people a handful of ways you can hold your baby while nursing. A newborn eats a lot, so you will find yourself seated many hours a day feeding your baby. Consider the state of your posture and set up a functional space to support you and your baby. 

 

Start with a decent chair, one with motion. A rocking chair or a glider are the common buy these days. They double as support during the feed, and then can facilitate soothing motion to help calm baby. The exercise ball you may have purchased prior to having baby. This encourages great posture, and is a great tool in soothing baby. The ball does all the work for you, rather than having to bounce your tired body. 

Start with a decent chair, one with motion. A rocking chair or a glider are the common buy these days. They double as support during the feed, and then can facilitate soothing motion to help calm baby. The exercise ball you may have purchased prior to having baby. This encourages great posture, and is a great tool in soothing baby. The ball does all the work for you, rather than having to bounce your tired body. 

A nursing pillow will help prop baby closer to you. These all can be used for both breast and bottle feeding. The Brestfriend has a clasp that you can adjust at any point on your torso, it also has a little pocket you can fit a water bottle, a pacifier, a nipple shield, really anything you have found helpful in your feeds. I included the Hiccapop because it is an awesome edition to propping baby higher, I personally use it on my lap under baby for bottle feeds. It allows for me to sit up straight and props up baby on an angle for feeds. This is really for pregnancy prior to baby's arrival, but I recommend as another full circle tool for both parent and baby. 

A nursing pillow will help prop baby closer to you. These all can be used for both breast and bottle feeding. The Brestfriend has a clasp that you can adjust at any point on your torso, it also has a little pocket you can fit a water bottle, a pacifier, a nipple shield, really anything you have found helpful in your feeds. I included the Hiccapop because it is an awesome edition to propping baby higher, I personally use it on my lap under baby for bottle feeds. It allows for me to sit up straight and props up baby on an angle for feeds. This is really for pregnancy prior to baby's arrival, but I recommend as another full circle tool for both parent and baby. 

Now for nursing positions. These positions above will be the more common holds taught immediately after baby's arrival. The football hold I recommend to larger breasted individuals, or with nipples that angle outwards. Breastfeeding will bring a whole host of new things to understand, and one of those things is the shape and placement of your nipples and how to best facilitate a feed with them.

Now for nursing positions. These positions above will be the more common holds taught immediately after baby's arrival. The football hold I recommend to larger breasted individuals, or with nipples that angle outwards. Breastfeeding will bring a whole host of new things to understand, and one of those things is the shape and placement of your nipples and how to best facilitate a feed with them.

These are some of the more advanced positions for nursing. I recommend the side lying position for parents that are comfortable with co-sleeping. It's a great night time nursing position, as it requires less effort in moving around. The laid back position I recommend to individuals with fast and heavy let down. When a let down is heavy it can cause some discomfort and frustration in feeding to baby. The laid back helps lesson the force of the let down and allows for baby to work the milk out at its own pace.  That twin hold is wonderful once mastered. Twins require an extra set of hands, so a helpful partner is essential in this position. Your nursing staff should be an excellent resource for you in postpartum recovery, but if you still feel like you need help, check out my blog series on   The Importance of Breastfeeding Support.

These are some of the more advanced positions for nursing. I recommend the side lying position for parents that are comfortable with co-sleeping. It's a great night time nursing position, as it requires less effort in moving around. The laid back position I recommend to individuals with fast and heavy let down. When a let down is heavy it can cause some discomfort and frustration in feeding to baby. The laid back helps lesson the force of the let down and allows for baby to work the milk out at its own pace.  That twin hold is wonderful once mastered. Twins require an extra set of hands, so a helpful partner is essential in this position. Your nursing staff should be an excellent resource for you in postpartum recovery, but if you still feel like you need help, check out my blog series on The Importance of Breastfeeding Support.

When it comes down to it, fed is best. There is nothing more natural than a baby communicating it's needs and receiving it. How you choose to nourish your little one is completely up to you, and you should never justify that to anyone.

Next blog I will present the different styles of baby carriers on the market, and how to choose what is best for you. I will also include some  helpful soothing techniques for baby.