I remember bringing home my first little bundle of joy. It was such a surreal feeling to finally lay him down in the crib for the first time and watch him nod off to sleep. While he did sleep a lot, there were always intermittent periods where he's wake up and scream for one reason or another. Maybe he was hungry or wet, perhaps he just wanted to make sure someone was nearby.
These episodes didn't generally last too long, but when they occurred in the middle of the night? I recall it being a downright hassle. So who takes on the newborn nightshift? What is the best way to get that little angel drifting back to dreamland? The answers might surprise you! You'll need to practice and be patient as your little person learns just what is work crying over and what isn't.
If you aren't a single parent, then you and your partner will need to decide who is going to take the lead on newborn night shifts. You can go about this in a variety of different ways. What works for one person probably won't work for someone else. For my newborn, I took 100% of night shifts with the baby. This makes me the ideal candidate to write this article.
Trust me that this gesture wasn't simply out of the goodness of my heart. I've always been a night owl while my spouse's biological clock leans towards early bird. Being ripped out of deep sleep to tend to a crying baby isn't fun for anyone, so having someone around who is voluntarily awake at 3 a.m. becomes an amazing boon.
I loved spending night shifts with my little one. The quiet midnight hours allow for some quality bonding time that I absolutely cherished. There are a few secrets that I've garnered over my time taking the night shift, and I'll happily share them with you. You don't need to be a night owl to take advantage of this information. It might even be more helpful to those with a 'normal' sleep/wake cycle. The quicker the kid is asleep, the quicker you can squeeze in a bit more rest yourself.
The first thing you're going to do when called by your little cherub is to determine exactly why you've been summoned. The first thing I check is the diaper. Wet babies are not happen babies, and if that's the problem then I can knock the problem out quick, fast, in a hurry. Seriously, I'd bet that I'm the fastest diaper changer this side of the Mississippi!
If your night owl baby isn't wet then it's time to check the clock and determine when they ate last. Newborn babies are hungry every couple hours or so. It's a good bet that they're ready to eat something. I still try to keep track of feeding times on a large whiteboard we have in the common area, but nothing ever goes according to plan and if baby insists on eating then they know better than a whiteboard, right?
If those two needs are taken care of you might want to check for signs of fever or colic. I can recall more than one episode of my nice quiet late night/early morning routine falling apart because of a gassy baby. Do what you can for them; warm compress, bringing knees toward the stomach, rubbing soothing oil on their tummies.
If diapers, food, and illness are all checked off the list then your little one is probably just looking for comfort. Swaddle them, hold them close, maybe sing them a short song or talk to them. Singing is preferred. A study by University of Toronto shows that babies who heard singing were able to calm themselves twice and quick, and stay calm for twice as long. So belt out that rendition of Twinkle Twinkle. The kiddo won't judge.
Know What NOT To Do
Every interaction with your child is a learning experience for them. You are training them (for lack of a better word) what stimulus will get what response. If crying in the wee hours of the morning leads to a midnight puppet show that they really enjoy, then guess what? You're going to be performing 3 a.m. puppetry for the foreseeable future. A fate worse than death.
Night time is not playtime and as much fun as it might be to tickle little toes and see that darling smile, there is a time and a place for it and nighttime is neither. Speaking of tickling toes, you can make those sweet feet smell extra great with a spritz of grape foot deodorizer spray and bubblegum foot deodorizer spray.
Anyways, getting back on topic: You're going to want to take care of your child's needs as quickly as humanly possible and send them right back to sleep. Two years after my son was born, he's still loves late nights. So does everyone else in my home... I think I broke them.
If you're snagging a doggy to grow up with that infant, you can find some nice mellow ones in our 6 best dog breeds for kids and families. I loved spending night shifts with my baby! It is some of the best bonding time possible, and even if my now two-year-old can't voice his recognition I can see on his face that he recognizes some of the less-common songs that I sang to him since birth. The night shift is great for night owls, but even early birds are perfectly capable of not letting it disrupt things too much. Just call yourself the Sandman!