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How Can Dad Help with Nighttime Feedings?










QUESTION:

My daughter is one week old, it's nighttime and my wife is feeding her and I don't know what I should be doing. I feel like I have to be awake when she is feeding her at night. My wife tells me to get rest but I feel guilty being asleep when she's doing the work. What should I be doing at night to be supportive?




ANSWER:

Your daughter is two weeks now and your wife is likely experiencing serious sleep deprivation and is more likely to take what help she can get. On the other hand, there is little you can do now, and there is no reason for you to experience sleep deprivation yourself, as you are likely back at work supporting your new family.

Suggestions:

  • If the baby is in another room, you can go get her when she cries, place her next to mom, and go back to sleep. This allows your wife to wake up slowly while breastfeeding her, and change and put her back to bed.
  • A major milestone for new moms who pump is the four hours straight sleep (10x better than two separate two hour stretches) made possible by you feeding the baby for a shift. She may be told not to introduce a bottle until four weeks to avoid “nipple confusion” but there is no evidence to support this so you might suggest that if she's going to pump, she start early. Many dads report that taking a night shift and getting to be all alone with your baby is a very cool experience.

There are other ways you can support your wife in minimizing her sleep deprivation; basically encourage her to sleep when the baby sleeps, which is tough for new moms because they have so many things on their mind about what their babies might need. Also ask your wife, in the absence of getting up for every feeding, what you can do to help her get some decent sleep herself.

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