What Is A Dream Feed?
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In this article:
- What Is Dream Feeding?
- How Do I Dream Feed?
- Is Dream Feeding Safe?
- Does Dream Feeding Actually Help?
- When Can You Start To Dream Feed?
- Do You Burp Or Change Your Baby During A Dream Feed?
If you’ve never heard of a dream feed before, you are in for a treat! It’s as soothing as it sounds… for both babies and parents. Dream feeding is a fantastic way to help your little one sleep through the night. Read on to see if it’s something that might be right for you!
What Is Dream Feeding?
Dream feeding is when you feed your baby during the night without waking them, so that they continue sleeping until it’s time to get up the next morning. Breastfeeding of bottle-fed… it doesn’t matter, they both work.
A researcher at the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) defines dream feeding as, “a feeding technique developed to encourage babies to sleep for longer stretches at night, designed for use in the early weeks and months when frequent feeding at night can be disruptive to parents.”
“...The feed takes place in the late evening, sometime between 10pm and midnight, to help the baby sleep for an uninterrupted stretch of five hours or more.”
Dream feeding is a structured way to keep your baby fed and satisfied rather than just waiting until he or she cries in the middle of the night, not knowing exactly what time they will wake you up.
You can decide when you give your baby the dream feed based on what is most accommodating for your family.
For example, when I was dream feeding, my baby girl went to sleep around 7:00pm. I would dream feed her around 11:00pm, and she wouldn’t wake up again until 5:00 or 6:00am. This was convenient for my schedule because that's around the time that I would wake up for work.
And can we just agree that it’s the worst thing ever to be woken up AN HOUR before you need to get up anyway? Because who can fall asleep again after that? The dream feed helps parents avoid getting up at 3 in the morning.
How Do I Dream Feed?
So how do you effortlessly feed your baby without waking her or him? Simple!
Very gently pick up your baby as they are asleep, do not turn on any lights, and latch your baby’s mouth to your nipple (or place a bottle in his or her mouth). You can lightly rouse your baby if he or she is not responding, but most of the time, babies will start feeding right away.
Remember, you want them to stay in a dreamy daze! Keep your baby swaddled if you are still using swaddles. The lights stay off. You can use a nightlight or your phone’s flashlight to find your way. You also don’t want to talk to your baby or make a loud ruckus. I recommend using a white noise machine, as it helps to drown out any harsh sounds.
When your baby is done drinking, quietly and softly place them back in their bassinet. Boom! Back to sleep they go, and then it’s time for you to hit the hay yourself.
Is Dream Feeding Safe?
Don’t do anything you would not do during a normal day of feeding. When you are feeding your baby, their heads should be elevated. Do not feed your baby lying down as they can choke. Don’t force your baby to drink more than she/he can. Make sure they’ve swallowed the milk in their mouths before putting them back to bed on their backs.
Does Dream Feeding Actually Help?
Based on a study done on dream feeding, conducted by the NCT, there is evidence that introducing a dream feed between 10:00pm and midnight helps babies sleep for a longer duration of time without waking.
In this study, 100% of babies in the treatment group were sleeping for 5 hour stretches compared to 23% of the control group babies! Do you know any mom with an infant who would turn down 5 hours of consecutive sleep?
Dream feeding can also help with the process of training your baby to know the difference between day and night. This is through the enforced habit of sleeping consecutively in the evening when it's dark and there's only subtle noise.
When Can You Start To Dream Feed?
Seeing as newborns wake up every couple of hours to feed, you won’t be able to start dream feeding until your baby is at least 2 months old (or at least when they are ready to sleep 5-8 hours at a time).
You can stop dream feeding when your baby sleeps the whole night without needing to wake up for milk or formula. This will vary amongst families.
Do You Burp Or Change Your Baby During A Dream Feed?
Yes and it depends.
You should gently burp your baby after they’re done feeding—just as you usually would.
When it comes to diaper changing, it depends on what you're more comfortable with as a parent.
If your baby has a poopy diaper in the middle of the night, you should change him or her to avoid a rash.
If you go to dream feed and your baby is not uncomfortable, or hasn't soaked their pajamas, there’s no need to change their wet diaper in that moment (that way they remain in their sweet slumber).
There's also no harm in changing their diaper and you're able to keep them in a trance...
Like I said, it's the parents' call.
Regardless, It’s important to use high-quality diapers when dream feeding since your baby will be going longer periods without waking up and getting a diaper change. I prefer the Huggies 12-hour protection diapers, they're the gold standard of diapers in my opinion and worked really well with my daughter.
So, Will You Try Dream Feeding?
Like all things baby, it’s only a temporary arrangement.
And like all things parenting, dream feeding may or may not be for you.
There’s only one way to find out if dream feeding is something you can get behind, and that’s to try it. We all just want more sleep!
Just know, it may take some practice to get it right. Sometimes you accidentally step on your dog’s squeaky toy and mess the whole production up! It happens, and there’s no need to get frustrated. Dream feeding works for many families, but not all babies buy into the whole ordeal (they must be onto us).
Good luck, and let us know how it goes in the comments below!
- Samantha Colandrea