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Written by: Caroline Meyer

One of the more common experiences, which aren’t often discussed with new parents, is the second night syndrome. Due to this being a situation that isn’t mentioned much, new parents often think they are doing something wrong. Don’t be too upset, it isn’t you! 


You may find your baby is sweet and angelic the first day in the world and turns in to a nightmare the next day. The theory is that after baby is born, they are rather worn out from the stress of entering the world and spend most of their first day asleep. This means they aren’t too aware of anything as yet. The second day may be a continuation of this and it is by the 2nd night that they suddenly realise that everything they have known is gone. This becomes exacerbated if your milk hasn’t come in yet. They may be surrounded by unfamiliar noises, they are hungry, they may be cold and everything that comforted them before has disappeared. 

There are strangers about, the noises have changed, there are bright lights and they are being touched. This is all rather strange and possibly frightening for your new born. They are not being constantly rocked and can no longer hear your heartbeat constantly. For many little ones, this can bring on second night syndrome. They may scream and cry and be inconsolable no matter what you do. While this doesn’t happen with all babies, it does happen with many of them. 


Don’t Stress 

You have to realise that it is a process that your baby is going through and it will end. As long as you are doing everything you need to and baby is not in pain of physical distress, try not to get stressed out by the screams.  Feed your baby as often as they are wanting. The more you feed the more milk your body will produce and eventually there will be enough milk coming through to satisfy your baby’s needs. If you are planning to breastfeed, try not to be tempted to give formula to supplement the breastmilk. Just keep feeding and you will more than likely produce enough. 

Employ Skin To Skin Contact 

New-borns crave comfort. You can help satisfy this need with closeness, adequate feeding, quick response to cries and resolving discomfort such as a damp nappy. Skin to skin contact is the best comfort for a new-born. They can hear your heartbeat, feel your warmth and hear your voice as you comfort them. When you respond to your little ones needs, they feel secure and loved. Employing quick responses when they are tiny leads to more confident, happier toddlers. 

Reduce Visitors 

Try and avoid having too many visitors on the first couple of days to prevent your baby becoming overwhelmed. Yes, everyone is excited to meet the new addition and everyone may want to stop by on day one, but all this external stimuli may be a bit too much for the infant. The smells, sounds and touch from so many people. Being passed from one person to another so soon after entering the new surroundings can lead to excess stress for your baby. Take a day or two to settle in and also give you some time to adjust before you have a big influx of visitors. 

Try A Smooth Transition 

The more things are similar to being in the womb, the calmer your new-born is likely to be. If you played music or spoke to your baby a lot during your pregnancy, try and continue playing the same music and talk to your baby in the same way. Babies are able to hear within the womb from as early as 16 weeks. If you start sounds early in pregnancy, carry these over after baby is born so it keeps feeling familiar.  Holding baby close and rocking often while baby can hear your heartbeat is also a good way to help keep them calm. You can also try a nice warm bath together with baby enjoying skin to skin contact. Don’t use soap as you want to try and retain the vernix on baby’s skin for as long as possible. Rub moist hands over baby’s skin in a gentle massage. This will help comfort baby and keep them calmer. 

It Doesn’t Last Forever 

While the 2nd night syndrome can be frightening and stressful for new parents, you must remember that it will get better. At the beginning, the colostrum to feed your baby only comes through in small amounts. As baby feeds, the quantity you produce will increase and your milk will usually come in on the 3rd day, giving you more than enough to satisfy your little ones hunger. You will need to feed often the first 3 days as baby has a tiny stomach and it can only hold a small amount at a time. It also empties fairly quickly, making them hungry again soon after. Once your milk comes in, they will be taking larger quantities at a time and should stay fuller for longer. You should be producing enough to satisfy their needs and they should sleep better and for longer on full tummies. 

Persevere with feeding often, quick responsiveness to baby’s cries and as much skin to skin contact as possible and you should get through the 2nd night without too much of an issue. By day 5 you will be wondering what all the fuss was about and be feeling a lot more secure as a parent of a new-born. 

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