Putting a Baby to Sleep After Feeding
When you're the parent of a newborn or an infant, you might feel like your life revolves around your baby's sleeping and eating schedule, and it probably does. Newborns eat every three to four hours -- or even more often -- and many babies continue to wake up several times a night throughout their first year. Successfully managing your baby's sleeping and eating schedules eases the stress many new parents face.
Sleeping and eating go hand in hand when you're caring for an infant. Hunger often interrupts sleep, meaning that feeding is frequently associated with sleep for a newborn or infant. How often your sleep is interrupted by feedings depends on your baby. Breastfed babies often wake up more frequently than formula-fed ones because breast milk is more easily digested, thus making babies hungry more frequently. In addition to middle-of-the-night feedings, eating typically bookends sleeping sessions for newborns and infants. Your baby often eats both before and after bedtime or a nap.
Feeding to Sleep
Eating can be a soothing process for a baby. Breastfed babies use nursing as more than just sustenance. According to KellyMom.com, a resource for breastfeeding mothers, babies seek out the breast for comfort when they are overstimulated. Thus, feeding babies before it is time for them to sleep encourages relaxation, which makes the bedtime process less difficult. At the same time, a meal before bedtime extends the amount of time your baby sleeps before becoming hungry again.
Feeding your baby before going to sleep can happen in a number of ways. If you are breastfeeding, you can nurse your baby in a comfortable position -- sitting or lying down -- before transferring the baby to her crib or bassinet. Formula-fed babies can eat while being held in an upright position that is comfortable for both the parent and baby. Burp the baby before finishing the feeding. Hold the baby upright over your shoulder and firmly pat her back after a feeding and before bed. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends burping the baby after every 2 to 3 ounces of formula or when you switch breasts, if nursing.
Transitioning to Sleep
If you do not want to feed your baby until he falls asleep, you can create a transitional period between feeding and sleeping. For example, you can nurse or bottle-feed your baby until he is drowsy. Then find a soothing, relaxing method that encourages this drowsiness. Some babies enjoy soft music; others prefer motion, such as rocking. Still others might like being "worn" by the parent in a baby carrier or sling. Use a variety of techniques to find the one that best fills the gap between feeding and sleeping, making baby's nap times and bedtime easier.