Opinion on eye contact with baby at night

Elfrieda - posted on 04/12/2011 ( 20 moms have responded )

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I just read an article http://www.mamamia.com.au/weblog/2010/09...
that was about a book that instructs mothers not to make eye contact with their babies during night feedings and changings. Many of the commenters seemed really offended by this.

What do you think? Is this practice damaging to the emotional well-being of the baby?

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Jessica - posted on 04/13/2011

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I think what Johnny said makes sense- if the baby is half asleep anyway, it can be helpful to be as unstimulating as possible so it will be easier to get them back to sleep. But if the baby is upset or obviously needs that connection, then one would be wrong to be so withdrawn from the baby.

I don't know, I have a 2 month old, and with him and his older brother I never turned on the lights to feed them at night. He never fully wakes up, I just pull him in to bed with me, feed him, reswaddle him and put him back in his bassinet. Works for me.

The book the article is about though, doesn't sound like something I would like very much. Baby books requiring to micromanage and strictly structure your baby like that really rub me the wrong way and go against my instincts. Not saying a routine is a bad thing, as long as it's built around your baby's needs and not the other way around.

I'm starting to think this ultimate result of getting your baby to sttn as soon as possible is a bit overrated anyway, at least when you're breastfeeding. My baby is a pretty good sleeper- he has slept long stretches at night, sometimes all the way through, from a few weeks old. I never did anything to try and make this happen, just the way he is! But going those long stretches at night has really hurt my milk supply and I've had to work to get it back up.

Bondlets - posted on 04/12/2011

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Egads, I'm surely not going to base my baby's emotional well-being on if I look into their eyes at night or not! I find that ridiculous and a scare tactic. Like parents need more to worry about?!

Mel - posted on 04/12/2011

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no its basically making sure they know that its night time and they're not to be stimulated. I remember with my first born my counsellor always said have no lights on, make no eye contact and only whisper if I have to speak to her. Even in the day when my second is due for a sleep or we wake her to weigh her they say dont make eye contact so she might go back to sleep. I competely understand why its done. I dont know why people would be offended

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Stifler's - posted on 04/13/2011

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Of course if your baby wakes up screaming making soothing noises etc and maybe turning the light on to check them over is necessary. My kid only did that a few times the rest of the time it was a hungry wahh and I knew he was hungry and made a bottle, kept the light off in his room and plugged him into the bottle, burped and put him back. By 4 months he was very AWARE and would actually laugh at me at 1AM if I turned the light on or not go back to sleep without rocking for ages if he fully woke up.

[deleted account]

OMG what a load of crap.



In the day i say yes..at night i did not.My girls are so happy and content.There not lacking in any area emotionally etc.Where do people come up with this stuff lol.:-)

Stifler's - posted on 04/13/2011

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Hells no. I never talked to my baby at night or made eye contact so I didn't fully wake him up. It's way harder to keep a bottle fed baby groggy at night time because they have to wait for to to warm up etc. so I kept light to a minimum and never talked to him.

Sarah - posted on 04/13/2011

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I would struggle to keep my eyes open, let alone maintain eye contact in the middle of the night!
I never really thought about it, I would just get up, feed them, snooze while I did so, and go back to bed!

I think people are getting way too obsessed with things like this........I really don't think that not making eye contact, in the dark, at night, when everyone's knackered, is going to affect them negatively.

Becky - posted on 04/12/2011

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I've always kept the lights off - even when they were newborns and I had to change them in the night, I either used a lamp or just turned the hall light on to keep the light low in the room. Generally, Zach's eyes are closed again as soon as I get him on the breast, so there's no making eye contact there. But if they were wide awake and I knew they weren't going right back to sleep, then I didn't avoid eye contact. I don't think I've ever purposely avoided it, just most of the time, it's not an issue because their eyes are closed!

Johnny - posted on 04/12/2011

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I don't know. I think that if it works as a calming technique in a quiet space, it is fine. But if the child is desperately needing a connection, and is being ignored in that way by the mother, it could be stressful for them. I usually had the lights very low, and my daughter slept next to us for quite a while, so I usually just picked her up and nursed her. I was never able to maintain eye contact that much while nursing, my boobs were in the way. And usually as soon as she started nursing, her eyes closed again anyway.

Nohblee - posted on 04/12/2011

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ahah its so weird to not look someone in the eye when ur talking to them or engaging with them, i always thought it was a bit of a laugh to say not to give ur child eye contact when teaching them how to behave at certain times.. mostly i gave night feeds in the dark to not confuse them about dark and light times but i really dont know if any of it really works I am a tired mum of two under the age of three and the almost 3 yr old only just started sleeping through consecutively in the past couple weeks, the younger who is 16 months sometimes wakes with pain or thirst or anything (bumping into the crib when rolling or moving around) they are just light sleepers! I just cant wait till the second one sleeps through so i can start getting more rest at night lol

April - posted on 04/12/2011

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The room is dark when i put my kids to sleep (stops them from waking up when i check on them) So i don't have a chance at making eye contact. My 8 month old son is way to sleepy to look at me anyway and my two year old daughter prefers that i don't look at her when she's trying to sleep because if i do she squeals and pushes my face away giggling "no, mummy! sleepy bye time now!" LOL so do i think this will emotionally damage them? No, not at all.

Krista - posted on 04/12/2011

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I can kind of understand the premise behind it -- you want to be as boring and UNstimulating as possible, so that your baby doesn't get all interested and alert. But I don't think it's a big deal one way or another, and that the mom should do what makes her comfortable. I didn't avoid eye contact during night feedings or diaper changes, but I did make sure to talk as little as possible and to just be really low-key and boring.

Amber - posted on 04/12/2011

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I didn't make eye contact because I was half asleep with only a night light on. I would sing softly to him while rocking him.
As he got older it became more of a situational thing. If he was half asleep and just a little fussy, then I tried not to engage with him and wake him the rest of the way up. If he was already up...well, then he's up anyway. May as well chat with him to tire him out faster :)

Merry - posted on 04/12/2011

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I fed him in the dark. His eyes were closed anyways so there's really no point of worrying about eye contact. Babies don't really wake entirely to feed in the night, it's sort of a half awake state just sucking and swallowing.
I felt bad that I'd find many times I didn't look at him while breastfeeding, but he usually was looking at my shirt anyways, idk, the angle he fed at I could only see one of his eyes so I don't think it was comfy for him to look at me either. Hmmmm

Sylvia - posted on 04/12/2011

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I ... never thought about it o_O We co-slept full-time, so I didn't actually get up or turn the lights on much when DD was a baby. It's probably a pretty safe bet that I didn't make eye contact with her much in the dark while nursing lying down with my eyes closed ;) It would have felt weird to avoid it on purpose, though!

Charlie - posted on 04/12/2011

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PS at night I co slept so didnt need to really wake entirely but I loved our last feed before bed , in a dark room just staring at my boy ,

Charlie - posted on 04/12/2011

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I feel like it is only natural to stare into your baby's eyes while feeding them or just being with them ( unless they have other plans ), I can kind of see why people might be offended ,people are sick of society telling us to go against our instincts .

It's extremely regimented and totally aginst everything in my core as a mother .

Toni - posted on 04/12/2011

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Even at 2am or 3am i would always turn the lamp on low. 9/10 times though bubs slept through feeds so it wasn't ever an issue.

Jenni - posted on 04/12/2011

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Most of the time I nursed in bed and didn't turn the lights on. But sometimes I'd nurse or bottlefeed in the living room and I would sing, talk, even play a little with my babies. Never stopped them from falling back asleep without making a peep. *shrug*



I'm not sure... but do they really care if you're making eye contact or not? Or are they just thinking about getting your nipple in their mouth?

Jodi - posted on 04/12/2011

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I have no idea....I just never turned the lights on unless I had to change a nappy anyway. It was always easier to settle them if I kept it dark, and I tended to wake up less too, so it was easier to get back to sleep.

Did it damage them? I don't believe so. They are totally normal kids. I think people are just getting a bit too anal about things sometimes.

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