Whether your baby is nursed or bottle-fed, your new addition will need to eat in the middle of the night. Likely more than once.
For breastfed babies, like ours, Dad’s role is a little more defined than babies taking formula.
But no matter how your baby gets his or her sustenance, it’s important to be prepared for what happens when the inevitable 1am, 3am, 5am feedings come.
The following is your Dad Survival Kit on how to handle these feedings:
- Just Change the Diaper. I’m calling on Dads to do at least one thing for every middle of the night feeding: change the effing diaper. It’s not fun, but did you push a 6-10 pound human out of your body? No. So let Mamma Bear rest an extra minute while you wipe your child’s rear. Related: For those early weeks, have a makeshift changing table in your bedroom. The baby is likely your third roommate during that time, so putting a table in the corner with a table lamp will make life so much easier.
- Load the DVR. When baby is up, at least one parent, and likely both, will be up, too. And you will want something entertaining to watch in the middle of the night. Don’t get too aggressive, though. You may think this is the time to binge-watch Law & Order: SVU reruns. And you would be totally wrong. Remember, this is 3am we’re talking about,man. I recommend short, funny shows that can keep you entertained without requiring too much (read: any) brain power. Our favorites right now include @Midnight, Robot Chicken, and Caribbean Life.
- Snack Up. This is where it gets tricky. You are awake in the middle of the night, which means STAYING awake in the middle of the night. Much like an anesthesiologist that tries to give you the minimum amount of medication required for the entire period of performance, you need something to keep you going, without making it difficult to go back to sleep. We keep boxes of cereal on our nightstands to help fuel us for as long as needed. CAUTION: mindless munching makes it hard to get quality sleep afterwards, so limit your intake.
- Keep It Short. Become a Navy SEAL of parenting. Wake up, do your job as efficiently as possible, go back to sleep. You are lucky if you can get three straight hours of sleep, so don’t waste a single second of potential sleep by doing anything other than sleep.
- Communicate Expectations. There is no one right way to divide your parenting. But there are right ways for you and your partner – and they all center around effective communication. Talk through how you want to handle the middle of the night feedings BEFORE it’s 3am and you resent each other for not reading minds. Just talk it through.
This period of time is not easy at all. It will test your willpower. It will push your relationship to new levels.
Above all else, though, it should be happy.
Use this survival kit to keep it that way.