Whether this is your first child or your third, considering what you need to include in the nursery is one of the most exciting things about your pregnancy. Most mothers fill that nine-month wait with prep and planning for every moment of Baby’s life. But no matter how much time they spend designing their nursery, many mamas-to-be forget about one crucial aspect. So let me ask you: Is your nursery ready for nighttime feeds?
This may seem obvious, but so many of us fail to think about this when we’re designing our nurseries. This means we end up with adorable nurseries, but no real way to feed our babies in the middle of the night (or the rest of the time, for that matter). And as a result, feeding Baby at night turns out to be much more complicated than it needs to be.
Hence this post on how to make those nighttime feeds easier. Simplifying those nighttime feedings will make EVERYONE’S life easier, trust me. And planning for these things BEFORE Baby comes – regardless of whether Baby will go home to the master bedroom for a few months, or straight to the nursery – is better than trying to play catch-up with a newborn at home.
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Is Your Nursery Ready for Nighttime Feeds? Do you have:
1) A clear path?
Just stop and think for a moment: YOUR NEWBORN INFANT DOES NOT NEED A NURSERY CLUTTERED WITH TOYS.
Partly, Baby is not old enough for them yet. But besides that, you need to be able to get to Baby at night without breaking your neck!
There is absolutely no reason your newborn should have toys scattered all over the floor at bedtime. In fact, I personally preferred to keep Baby’s room for feeding and sleeping ONLY. No toys, until my girls were old enough to bring toys in their rooms under their own power.
If for some reason you and your child DO have toys, books, an exercise gym, or whatever out in their room, PUT IT AWAY before you start getting Baby ready for bed! Everyone will be safer as a result. (See below on storage.)
2) Blackout blinds?
For the sake of everyone’s sleep, you need Baby’s room to be dark. Too much light will stimulate your brain (and Baby’s) and make it harder to fall asleep, whether at bedtime or naptime or the middle of the night. So think twice about those gauzy curtains. (Or if you can’t live without them, layer them over something more effective at blocking light.)
One of the best things you can buy for Baby’s nursery is some good blackout blinds. We have a blackout shade in Essie’s room, which is north-facing, For Kimmie’s bright south-facing room, we have both blackout shades and blackout curtains.
With a nice dark room during nighttime feeding, both you and Baby can stay half-asleep during feeds. You’ll have a much better chance of going right back to sleep after feeding time, and Baby will also sleep more soundly and fall asleep faster. Even more importantly, returning to this dark room for feeds before naps will help cue Baby that it’s time to go to sleep. And a Baby who’s not overtired is a happier Baby who’s easier to care for.
3. Soft lighting?
And while I’m at it, what about your lighting? I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: plan out a low-light option to alternate with that bright overhead light. That bright overhead light is NOT going to help Baby get back to sleep in the middle of the night, and is also going to mess with your own nighttime sleep.
RELATED POST: What Your Baby Really Needs In The Nursery
One option is a small bedside lamp. Or even better, if you’ve never considered that fairy lights could look fantastic in your little one’s room, now’s the time.
We have several strings up in each of our girl’s rooms, and have since they first moved in. Each of their rooms comes with a dual switch – one for the overhead light/fan, the other for the bottom outlets. We have the fairy lights plugged into the bottom outlets, so that whenever we flip that switch, we have instant soft lighting. We still use these lights when tucking them in at night, and waking them in the morning.
If for whatever reason you only want to use your overhead light, at least install a dimmer switch. My husband has done this several times, and says it’s not complicated. With a dimmer switch, you can put the light on its lowest setting and settle in for that nighttime feed without worry.
4. Something for storage?
It should be a no-brainer that storage in a nursery is essential at the best of times. I’m sure you’ve already got many of your storage needs covered, from diapers to Baby’s current wardrobe to all those larger sizes and big-kid toys Baby will grow into. But what about nighttime feeding needs?
Think about what you’d prefer, then get it set up BEFORE Baby comes home. Maybe you want to install some shelving units. Maybe you want a high-up shelf in Baby’s future bookcase. Or maybe a tabletop next to the changing table will work best. Whatever it is, you need to have it set up before Baby is ready for that nursery.
No matter what you choose, have fun, and think about how you can use storage to your advantage. Then, you won’t even need to open your eyes to reach your baby’s crib.
5. A place to nurse or bottle-feed?
Again, this may sound obvious, but don’t forget the chair where you’ll sit to feed Baby! Trust me, especially if you’re nursing, you’ll want to be plenty comfortable for what can sometimes seem like endless stretches of time during nighttime feeds.
At the very least, consider a rocking chair and a low footstool or nursing stool. If the rocker isn’t upholstered, add some cushions or pillows to make it more comfortable.
Another option worth considering, if you have the space, is a small sofa or loveseat for Baby’s nursery. If you’ve been thinking of upgrading in your main living space anyway, you could put the old one in the nursery for now. Or you can buy a new one for the nursery, then move it to your main living space when it’s not needed in the nursery anymore. Check out these sofa reviews to get you started.
When planning our girls’ rooms, we got each one a compact wooden rocking chair at a tag sale. (They still love to curl up in these chairs today, with a good book.) But we also set up their “big-girl bed” in their rooms before they even moved in.
Having a twin bed already in each child’s room meant it was a familiar sight by the time each girl was ready to graduate from her crib. It was also a fun place for them to play or read with each other. But most of all, it was the perfect spot for those pre-bed and middle-of-the-night feedings, when the last thing Mama wanted to do was fully wake up!
6. A dedicated feeding prep/supplies space?
This is the one that new parents are most likely to miss in their advance preparations. Whether you breastfeed or bottle-feed, feeding an infant requires a certain amount of Stuff. You need to have a dedicated space for all the supplies you’ll need to get the job done.
If you’re nursing, a table or the top of a small bookcase may be plenty of room. When I was nursing my girls at night, I kept a small table set up next to the rocking chair. Every night before I went to bed, I restocked the table as needed. The table held healthy snacks for Mama, a quart-sized water bottle, burp cloths, my notebook for tracking feeding plus a pen, and a clock.
During Kimmie’s first months when we had to supplement with formula, nighttime feeds took place in our living room, mainly because neither our room nor her nursery was big enough. Daddy had a dedicated formula station set up before bed on the kitchen counter, so he’d have everything he needed to mix up a bottle. And all my pumping stuff was ready to go, so I could pump while he gave Kimmie her bottle,
Especially if you’re bottle-feeding, see if you can set up a staging space in the nursery for mixing formula. Think about how much easier life will be in the middle of the night, if you already have your burp cloths, bottles, formula, and a jug of sterilized water in the nursery! Make sure the cupboard or tabletop you use to store everything is large enough for your bottle sterilizer and extra formula, and you’ll be set.
Having a dedicated space like this will also make things much easier if you’re ever away for the evening or the night. Anyone who’s looking after your baby will be able to find what they need with ease, even in that dim lighting.
7. Your turn:
None of these alterations changes things like your decor and general organization. They’re just little extras that you’ll be glad you thought of when the middle of the night rolls around and you have a hungry baby!
What about you? If you’re a parent, how did you handle middle-of-the-night feeds? Let us know in the comments!
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