10 tricks to make overnight bottle feeds easier and quicker

If you’re bottle feeding your little one, you will surely want to make the whole process as convenient, low-stress, and streamlined as possible overnight. That way you can hopefully return to sleep as quickly as you can…before the next feed comes around!

Here are some game-changing and sanity-saving bottle tricks you can try for overnight bottle feeds without having to take a trip to the kitchen, turn lights on, or wake the rest of the household. 

1. Keep your baby close

Research has shown that room sharing reduces the risk of SIDS, but it also means that you don’t have to stumble down the hallway into another room every time your baby wakes. Keep life simple and your baby nearby.

2. Prep everything before you go to bed

Ensure that all of your bottles are washed, sterilised, and ready to go. If you’re using formula, measure it into portioned containers, so you won’t have to worry about doing this when you’re half asleep or your baby is demanding a bottle now. For expressed milk, have your bottles filled with the usual amounts in each. If you’re the one prepping everything in the evening, and you have a partner, they can be in charge of washing it all in the mornings. 

3. Make up your bottles from the comfort of your bed

Heat bottles using a bottle warmer and then double check the temperature by testing the milk on your wrist, or even better,  get a bottle that does the hard work for you. Bottles with a temperature indicator will give you extra peace of mind when you’re feeding baby in the middle of the night. For breast milk, keep the bottles in an insulated bag with an ice block, and heat them in the thermos of boiled water or bottle warmer.

4. Have everything you need within reach

If you feed your baby in bed, have a bottle-feeding station set up beside you. Ensure there’s everything you need for your baby including burp cloths, as well as a water bottle for you, hand sanitiser, and a night light (a red bulb is less stimulating). If you’re pumping, have everything clean and prepped, plus some snacks if you tend to get peckish. 

5. Tag team if possible

If you have a partner, it’s fair to expect that you will share the nighttime parenting. If you are doing the bottle feeds, perhaps your partner can do nappy changes, or vice versa. You might decide that it works better if your partner attends to your baby between 7-12 while you sleep, and then you take over from midnight until the morning. The best thing about bottle feeding is that it doesn’t have to all fall on you.

6. There’s no need to sterilise pump parts every time

If you’re expressing overnight, you can keep the pump beside you without getting up to wash and sterilise it. Ideally you should rinse the milk out thoroughly after use, so it’s a great idea to have spare parts so you’re not always rinsing and washing. Your breast milk can be stored for up to 6-8 hours at room temperature on your bedside table, so there’s no need to worry if you nod off.

7. Keep it low-fuss and boring

To help your baby understand that daytime is for playing and nighttime is for sleeping, speak in a soft voice, keep the room dimly lit, and as non-stimulating as possible. You can skip the nappy changes unless it’s a poo. 

8. Keep phones and clocks away

Obsessing over sleep, looking at the clock and timing feeds will only make nights stressful and frustrating. It’s also more likely to keep you awake long after your little one dozes off again. The blue light from phones will disrupt your own circadian rhythm by sending a message to your brain that it’s daytime. It will also distract you and your baby from getting the sleep that you need. The goal is to fall back to sleep as soon as your baby is resettled. 

9. Accept that night feeding is developmentally normal

Night waking is normal and healthy, and your baby most likely needs those calories (particularly for newborns). Instead of fighting the night feedings, see them as necessary, and find ways to cope instead. Up to 6 months of age studies have shown 2/3 of babies wake 2-3 times on average during the night and we see in other studies that it is still normal for babies to wake to feed at least until 12 months.

10. Find out if you need to wake your baby for feeds or offer dream feeds

The only time it is necessary to wake your newborn for feeds is when there is a medical reason and your baby is sleeping for longer than 3-4 hour blocks. For more information on this, read When should I wake my sleeping baby? For other bubs, you might like to try to introduce a dream feed before you go to bed to fill them up in the hope that they’ll sleep a little longer before the next feed.