8 Practical Tips For Feeding Your Baby At Night

Send this to someone who loves a midnight snack

baby feeding schedule: how to feed a baby at night
flickr / Sander van der Wel

A midnight snack is the distinct pleasure of poor sleep habits. There’s nothing like pulling a cold chicken leg and dill pickle from the fridge and devouring them in the quiet dark. It’s comforting and grounding, almost like you were always meant to eat like some nocturnal flesh-tearing beast.

So it won’t come as any surprise to you when your own little beast wants (no, demands) to be in on the night-eating action. It’s in their very blood. Oh, and also, they literally cannot eat enough to fuel their growth during business hours. So, there’s that too.

RELATED: How to Bottle Feed a Baby

But how do you deal with your late night luncher? Here are some tips.

Night Shift

The first step in learning to deal with the nightly requirements of your ravenous zombie baby, is accepting some responsibility for nighttime feedings. Here’s the thing: if your partner is breastfeeding, it’s unlikely that you get a ton of time to get snugged up with your kid. That’s because your wife’s boobs are bogarting that baby.

Night feedings are a good time to get your stink all over your newborn. They may not seem like they give a crap, as long as nutrients are entering their pie-hole, but rest assured that bonding is happening. That’s particularly true if you’re feeding your kid topless. Why should your partner be the only one to get all the benefits of skin to skin contact? Just make sure the kid doesn’t lunge for your hairy man nips. Unless you’re a pygmy tribesman and are okay with that.

While you could just take all the night feedings, via breastmilk-bottle or formula, you probably want it to be a bit more equitable. Here are a few ways you can divide it up:

  • The Splits: If you’re a night owl and your partner is a morning … owl? You can go ahead and take feeding from lights-out to midnight and she can take feeding from midnight to morning. Or whatever works.
  • E.O.N.: Make it an every other night situation. That way you both get a few full night’s sleep during the week. This may not be ideal if you have things to do, like work. But if your boss can’t sack up and let you fall asleep at your desk every once in awhile, then tell them to go to hell. (Note: You can’t hold you favorite dad-media site responsible for any repercussions.)
  • The Weekend: Assuming she’s staying at home for awhile, you can divide responsibilities so that your partner takes the weeknight feedings and you do late night weekends. Although expect by Sunday at 3 AM you might not be able to feel your face.

Night Feed

So when your baby needs to eat at night, you don’t just want to whip off your shirt, turn on the lights and come at them with a bottle. That’ll mess everything up. Geez. Why you gotta be so aggressive, bro?

You’ll do better creeping in like the milk-fairy and making this stuff happen in a nice, calm way. Do this:

  • Don’t Turn On Lights: You can either opt for night vision goggles or you can just use a super-dim motion-activated night light.
  • No Interaction: You know, aside from the interaction of feeding. If they’re trying to win you over with cuteness so you’ll play with them, do not fall for that garbage. Keep it business. Nurturing business.
  • Stick To The Necessary: If your kid doesn’t need to be changed, don’t change them. If they aren’t “asking” for food (e.g. crying their faces off), don’t feed them.
  • Be Prepared: Like any good Boy Scout, you need to have your crap together. Make sure supplies are at hand and ready to roll. Unlike a good Boy Scout, you do not need a jaunty neckerchief.
  • Bump ‘Em: Make sure that when your kid eats all they need, you take some time to burp them. Just putting them back down could lead to gas pains and more fretful waking.

If you can get in there like a topless milk ninja, you’ll get the benefits of bonding with your baby while also maximizing your sleep situation. Consider this the important work of instilling your kid with the beauty of the marvelous midnight snack.