Saturday, October 17, 2009

Feeding Baby at Night - Dad Can Help Too

How often do I hear that dads do not feed their baby at night? Far too many! Mostly, I hear that the mothers are the ones to get up and feed their infant in the middle of the night.

Babies, from 0 to 6 months, may require feedings in the middle of the night, especially the first three months of life. I really cannot tell you how often I am told by moms that their husbands do not get up to help with these feedings. For shame, dads!

Dads, why are you sleeping?

When I ask why they sleep through the night while mom is up feeding the baby, most mothers give two reasons. The first I hate, because it is such an ancient thought. The thought is that it is a mother's duty to feed the baby. If a baby wakes up in the middle of the night because it is hungry, some men feel it is a woman's duty and job to get up and feed the baby. Wake up dads, the times have changed!

The second reason is the most common, and it is that there is a general feeling from moms that dads simply don't realize how tired they are, and how much of a toll taking care of a baby takes on their body. Moms who have been taking care of the baby all day can get physically and emotionally exhausted, and waking up in the middle of the night for a feeding only furthers that weariness.

Maybe we as men are born oblivious, but that is no excuse. There is a sense of awareness that we possess as well, we just need to focus that awareness on mom and baby.

Guys, I am telling you that as fathers...and as men, it is our duty to help in childcare as much as possible. In this day and age, it is no longer a woman's sole responsibility to care for the kids. Especially when it comes to babies.

We have to realize that the mother of our precious baby is more than likely physically and emotionally drained at times. They need to recharge, and they need their rest. So that means they need to sleep at night just as much as we do.

How to get up and feed your baby in the middle of the night!

Here is my suggestion, and it worked very well for my wife and I. For the feeding that occurs in the middle of the night, which I put at 12am to 4am, I would get up and feed the baby so my wife could have some solid, uninterrupted sleep. She would take the feedings immediately before and after.

I would get up and get my baby, and then head downstairs with her to warm up a bottle of milk. A hungry baby is usually a fussy baby, so by taking her with me, not only was I comforting her, but I was also leaving my wife with peace and quiet, so the fussy, hungry baby would not wake her up.

The bottle of milk I warmed up was milk my wife had pumped earlier, so it was ready for me to use. Moms, here is where you can help this having milk available, either breast milk or pre-made formula, it makes it that much easier for dad to get up and feed the baby. Dads, for added bonus, you can help prepare the bottles prior to the night's feedings.

When the bottle was warmed, I would take my daughter either to her rocker or back to our bed, and I would feed her. She usually would fall right to sleep after finishing her milk. Then I would slip back into bed, and sleep as much as I could to rest up for the next day.

Become a better father, husband...become a better man

I'll be honest, there were nights where I swear I was half asleep as I was preparing milk. One time I even stuck my hand in some boiling water and didn't even realize it for a few seconds, until the searing pain made me yell out a few choice words. But over time, as I got used to the schedule, it got easier and easier. There were times I could even anticipate her needing to eat, and would wake up right before she started getting her hunger fussiness.

Guys, there is no better feeling than when your wife comes home, and she tells you a story about how she had told her friends that you get up in the middle of the night to feed the baby so she can sleep, and they say how lucky she is. Anytime someone tells your wife how lucky she is for something you do, you know you are doing something right, and there is a sense of daddy and husband pride that makes it all worthwhile.

Dads, I am encouraging you to be that husband and father that goes the extra mile. Be aware of when mom is tired, and when she needs her rest. If you are dead beat and exhausted, I'd be willing to bet money she is just as exhausted, if not more so.

Can moms get up and feed the baby? Absolutely, hands down, yes. Mothers are superheroes in my book, because you cannot say enough to describe how much they do. When it seems they have run themselves as far as they can go, they find a way to keep on running. Moms, you all are awesome.

But dads, let's be more aware, and help out the precious woman in our life. Try helping feed the baby at night. Let your angel wife get some pure, solid sleep. Let her rest. By doing this, we become better fathers, better husbands, and better men.

1 comment:

Jenna said...

I love this post, so does my husband, because he totally agrees with you! When Gavin was a baby, Dave got up with me every single night, and not that Gavin is 2, going on 3, David gets up with him at night, when and if he gets up! I am the one he usually stays in bed! He is great and more men should be like you two!