Newborn Not Settling After Night Feeds? Here’s How to Fix It

Is your newborn not settling after night feeds? If your baby won’t go back to sleep after a night feeding, check out these tips that can help!

Newborn Not Settling After Night FeedsMany new moms know that babies don’t sleep through the night in the early weeks. But given that we wake up multiple times, it would also be nice to be able to feed the baby and know that he can go straight to sleep.

So, what do you do if that doesn’t happen? When he won’t settle himself after a night feed and instead cries and stays awake?

My little guy was always drowsy during those night feeds, so much so that I could easily lay him down in the crib and know he’d keep sleeping. But his sleep patterns started to change where he wouldn’t settle himself until I picked him up to calm him down. As if waking up to feed him wasn’t hard enough, now I had to spend more time getting him to sleep.

Perhaps until recently, your baby has slept well after middle of the night feeds. But now, he cries and needs to be held before calming down and falling asleep again. By that point, you’re not exactly in a state to fall asleep yourself and end up staying awake until he cries to be fed again.

Never mind that when he does settle back to sleep, he’s still so restless. He grunts and whimpers, making you jump at every little sound he makes. Next thing you know, it’s the early morning and you’ve gotten a measly two hours of sleep in total.

Don’t worry, friend. You’re not stuck with sleep problems forever. Even if you’re still ages away from any type of sleep training, you can still turn to a few hacks to help your baby settle after feedings. Take a look at these simple changes you can make to turn his sleep around:

1. Change your baby’s diaper first

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It’s tempting to bottle feed or nurse your baby as soon as she cries, especially when she quiets down right away. But changing her diaper after she feeds makes her more likely to get riled up just when you had calmed her down.

Instead, accept that she might cry for a few minutes not only because she woke up hungry but because you’re also changing her diaper. The good news is that once she feeds, you can lay her down without dealing with diaper changes.

And if she only has a wet diaper or it hasn’t been that long since you last changed her, consider skipping a diaper change altogether. Of course, change her diaper if she pooped or her diaper feels full. But if it’s dry (this is when diapers with a wetness indicator help!), you might want to skip the change and just make sure to do it the next time she wakes up.

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How to Get Your Baby to Sleep without Being Held

2. Swaddle before feeding

Here’s another rookie mistake I made: I would feed my baby first and then, once he was done, would proceed to swaddle him. But, just like changing a diaper, going through the motions of getting swaddled would rile him up even more.

Instead, right after you change your baby’s diaper, swaddle him right then and there. That way, you’re feeding him already swaddled and can put him down soon after.

3. Keep your baby’s room subdued

Waking up to get your newborn does require a bit of light to see. After all, fumbling in the dark isn’t safe or practical. But this is also not the time to turn on additional lights or even engage with him as you would during the day. Too much stimulation can send the wrong cues that it’s time to be awake.

To start, use only the minimal amount of light you need to see. This can be a small night light plugged into the wall or the bathroom light turned on to provide just enough light.

Then, use white noise in the room. This helps not only muffle sudden sounds that could startle him awake, but his tiny grunts and squirms that could be keeping you awake. I learned that newborns tend to make noise as they sleep, and it doesn’t mean you have to get them up. According to WebMD:

“As soon as they are born, babies make all sorts of sounds while they are sleeping. Their sleep is often restless. Your baby may sometimes sleep soundly through loud sounds, but they can also be restless.

They might wake multiple times, or be almost awake throughout the night or nap time. Grunting is a normal sound for your baby to make during sleep, along with gurgles, squeaks, and snores.

Most of these sounds are completely normal and do not indicate any health or breathing problems.”

Try not to engage with or talk to your baby during night feeds, either. That way, he learns that nighttime is reserved for going straight to sleep while daytime is a chance to play and talk.

Then, during the day, feed him after he wakes up in a bright room with plenty of sounds and activity. Avoid overstimulation (he’s just waking up, after all), but engaging with him in this way helps him learn that this is the time to be awake.

4. Hold your baby upright for 5 minutes

One of the biggest reasons babies fuss right after you just put them down is the discomfort of gas. It’s tempting to want to lay your baby down right after he’s done feeding, but this doesn’t allow him to expel gas trapped in his body. At some point, this can cause him  to cry out in need of help.

That said, this doesn’t mean that you need to get a huge burp out of him. Because he’s so sleepy, he might not need to get a large burp or fart out. But hold him for at least 5 minutes—this gives his food a chance to digest as well as any gas to come out.

Is burping a newborn after breastfeeding necessary? Find out here!

Burping a Newborn After Breastfeeding

5. Rock your baby to a drowsy state

What do you do if your baby is completely awake after a feed, perhaps even in a crying fit? Rock and hold her until you can get her to a drowsy state.

A newborn baby may not be able to calm herself down on her own, so this is when you comfort and reassure her that you’re still here. Once she’s in a drowsy state (but still awake), put her down so she can settle back to sleep.

At the same time, you also don’t want to confuse or startle her by putting her down completely asleep all the time. While this is a strategy when all else fails, at least give her the opportunity to fall asleep on her own. That way, she doesn’t wake up crying and wondering why she’s no longer in your arms.

6. Have a routine

We’ve all heard the benefits of implementing a bedtime routine even during the newborn stage. But you can have a routine during nighttime feedings, too.

We’ve talked about changing diapers and swaddling before feedings as well as keeping the room subdued, all of which could be included in your routine. Perhaps you always give him a lovey to hold or feed him in the same spot every time. This can help cement the idea that this is simply what you do during nighttime feeds (including falling asleep soon after).

Being consistent also helps you not have to think too much about what you have to do next. Following the same flow and rhythm allows you to run through the tasks on autopilot with less stress and anxiety.

7. Don’t think too much

And here’s a tip for you, friend. Regardless of your baby’s behavior after night feeds, do yourself a favor and try not to think too much. Even if you managed to get him to sleep, there’s still the part about you falling asleep, too. I’ve had too many moments when I couldn’t fall asleep between the time I put my baby down and when he started crying again.

Help your mind stay at rest by not having an endless to-do list. You might have a harder time falling asleep if your brain is too active. Tell yourself that you can deal with those tasks the next morning.

And try not to do too much during nighttime feedings, including watching a movie or checking your phone. I know it’s hard to stay awake when you’re not active in some way. But screen time could make it harder for you to fall back asleep when it’s time to do so. If need be, you could try reading a physical book with a clip-on book lamp.

The goal is to keep yourself in a sleepy state and only do the bare minimum so that you and your baby can rest after feedings.


As if waking up multiple times a night wasn’t bad enough, now you have to spend even more time getting your baby to settle after night feeds. No wonder you’re not getting much sleep.

Hopefully, you’ve read a few hacks to try to help him fall back asleep each time he wakes up. Change diapers and swaddle your baby before you feed and keep the room subdued with little activity and engagement.

Hold him upright for at least five minutes to try to get a burp (or at least allow the food to settle). If need be, rock him to a drowsy state, enough to calm him down while still allowing him to put himself to sleep.

Just as you have a bedtime routine, have a nighttime feeding routine, too. And finally, try not to think or do too much yourself so that you can remain in a state of sleepiness as well.

Your baby isn’t going to sleep through the night just yet. But at least you can get him to sleep after feedings instead of crying and fussing in your arms.

Get more tips:

Free resource: Does your baby only sleep when held? Join my newsletter and grab a free chapter of How to Get Your Baby to Sleep Without Being Held. Learn effective tips and strategies to finally ease your little one out of your arms:

How to Get Your Baby to Sleep without Being Held

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