Why It May Not Work
Where for some parents dream feeding is a blessing and boon, other parents may find dream feed not working. This is because of some of the following reasons:
- Your baby may not be hungry and thus might refuse to feed.
- Your baby may not like to be disturbed in his sleep and may get irritable and cranky.
- You may find it difficult to feed your baby in his deep sleep.
- Your baby may wake up even after a dream feed.
Why Should You Use A Dream Feed
The dream feed is all about making sure that your baby has a full tummy before entering their core phase of sleep during the night.
This should help them to sleep longer as waking for hunger will have been minimised thanks to this additional sleep feeding.
Your baby should fall asleep straight away after a dream feed and more uninterrupted sleep should result.
How To Drop The Dream Feed
You will wait to drop the dream feeding until your baby is able to sleep from the dream feed to their normal morning wake up time, through any other night feedings.
You may choose to keep the dream feeding at that point, or you may want to wean it.
Once they are sleeping from the dream feeding to the morning wake up and have dropped any night feedings or early morning feedings, you will try to wait about 2 weeks before dropping the dream feed.
When you are ready to drop the feeding, you have a lot of options!
- You could wean the amount of ounces you are feeding if you are bottle feeding
- You could wean the amount of time you are feeding if you are breastfeeding
- You could also drop the feeding cold turkey and utilize baby sleep training method to address any night wakings
The dream feed method book suggests dream feeding a newborn at 1 and 4am , and gradually moving those feedings earlier until you are down to one feeding and moving that one earlier until you no longer need it.
They also boast this will get your baby sleeping through the night by 4 months. As a professional, I believe this is a little bit ambitious, but if it helps families get more sleep then I am all for it!
As always, address this with your healthcare provider as they are able to assess your childs growth and overall health!
Another important factor when working to drop a dream feed is to make sure you have a great day time routine.
This is important because:
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How To Do A Dreamfeed
Just gently get your baby out of bed at around 10pm, feed from both sides or give a full bottle.
Dont worry about burping or a nappy change. Then put her straight back to bed still asleep.
If your baby will not drink, she may be too young for this technique to work . Another option is to wait until your baby comes into a lighter sleep and try again.
When Should You Stop Dream Feeding
If dream feeding is working for you and your baby, you can do it for as long as you wish. Theres no harm in slipping in an extra feeding time for your baby, and its especially wonderful if it affords you a longer stretch of uninterrupted sleep. Its really a win-win situation.
However, babies are always changing and by 4 to 6 months, many babies can sleep more than 3 to 4 hours at a time without feeding. At this point, its worth skipping that dream feed and seeing if your baby will naturally sleep a longer stretch without any intervention.
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Q: Does A Dream Feed Help Baby Sleep Through The Night
A dream feed is when you feed your baby while they are sleeping. Typically, drea, feed is done around 10 or 11 pm. It is an effective way to help them sleep through the night because they are getting food while they are already sleeping. It is important to make sure that the baby is properly latched on and that you are not waking them up too much while you are doing the dream feed.
Should I Do A Dream Feed
A dream feed involves nursing your baby without waking them up, and doing so is really a personal choice, but if youre sleep training, experts dont recommend using this method. The thought process here is that you can top off your babys tummy with a bit more breast milk right before you head to bed so that they wont wake up hungry quite as soon as they would have without that one last sleepy feed.
I am not a fan of dream feeds and don’t recommend them as the goal is to extend that first stretch of sleep after bedtime to get longer, not interrupt it, Casey explains. Dream feeds often do not get you longer stretches after that, but do cause a disturbance in your child’s sleep cycles that will end with more night wakings than they may have done if not woken for a feed.
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Why Would I Offer My Baby A Dream Feed
Making the decision to offer dream feeds is usually based on a problem. The baby has a pattern of waking in the wee small hours, is hungry and needs a feed. This of course means the parents sleep is disturbed. Offering the baby a feed earlier in the night around 10 pm can lead to the baby sleeping for longer.
Sample Dream Feeding Scenario
Heres an example of how a good scenario might look:
- Baby goes to sleep around 7 p.m. after your regular bedtime routine.
- You dream feed around 10 p.m. before you go to bed.
- Baby sleeps until 4 or 6 a.m. or later, giving you a glorious 6 to 8 hours of sleep straight. When your baby is older, they might even sleep through the night.
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How Much Do You Feed Your Baby In A Dream Feed
It would be best if you are guided against excessive feeding with much milk or formula in a dream feed. Feeding your baby too much than necessary causes more harm than good. You may end up not getting the long stretch of sleeping hours you want to achieve with dream feed.
Hence, the amount of milk you give your baby in the night should be reduced by a certain amount than daytime feeding.
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Is It Too Late To Start Dreamfeeding
If your little one is not settling in his night-sleep routine, you may try dream feeding. Though it is recommended that whatever you plan to try for your baby, you should keep it going for at least a week to see how your baby responds to it. The same rule applies to dream feeding as well. When you notice that your baby is sleeping peacefully at night, you can stop dream feeding your baby.
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When To Stop The Dream Feed
It typically works best to try to wean the dream feeding before 6-9 months of age. After that, it can disrupt sleep even more than it helps.
Babies tend to become a lot more alert by that age and will fully wake up, wanting to play when you are trying to sneak in that extra feeding!
If you find that your little one is having a difficult time settling after you have done the dream feed, then that is usually a sign to stop the dream feed.
It is important to remember that this is a short term solution to night wakings and will eventually become a habit.
Some pediatricians will agree that babies do not need feedings in the night after 6 months of age, but every baby is different. so it’s important to know when do babies sleep through the night
Since a dream feed is typically done to get a little one sleeping through the night, it is definitely best to check in with your pediatrician!
How To Get A Baby Back To Sleep After A Dream Feed:
Oftentimes, a baby who has just enjoyed a dream feed can be returned to their bassinet with nary a wakeup. But if your little one has woken up during or after a dream feed, you can get them back down with the help of the 5 Ss: Swaddling, Side/Stomach, Shushing, Swinging, Sucking.
First, if you havent already, swaddle your baby and put on some rumbly white noise. I recommend playing white noise all night, but you can turn up the volume as youre putting your baby back down. The most effective white noise for sleep is continuous, monotonous, and at a low-pitch, like my or SNOObear, Happiest Babys white noise lovey.
At the same time, gentle rhythmic motion can help lull babies to sleep. In fact, a 2019 study in the journal PLOS ONE found that the magical mix of swaddling, white noise, and rocking evokes an immediate calming response when caregivers soothe their infants and when they use SNOO, my responsive bassinet. SNOO uses womb-like white noise and motion to quickly settle babies back to sleep after a feedusually adding sleep for the whole family.
Other time-tested tricks to help a baby sleep after a dream feed include rocking in a rocking chair, walking with your baby in your arms, bouncing on an exercise ball, and offering a pacifier, which fulfills the Sucking portion of the 5 Ss. As an added bonus, research suggests a bedtime paci helps lower the risk of sudden infant sleep death, or SIDS.
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Set Your Baby Up For Dream Feed Success:
As I mentioned earlier, the one-two punch of adding daytime calories and dream feeds can really work wonders to help babies sleep longer. Try offering cluster feeds from about 4pm till bedtime. Cluster feeds are a series of quick milky meals given to Baby every one to two hours. Theyre meant to load your little ones system with calories to keep them well stocked with nutrition through the night. At the same time, put your little one down for night-night safely swaddled with your trusted white noise on. Consider this another dream team to help Baby sleep better!
Should You Dream Feed
I dont recommend dream feeds as a solution for ALL families, but they do work well for some babies. And, in the end, we need to find the right solution for each unique baby even within the same family.
Some people believe it goes against the idea of demand-feeding and is not respecting the baby to force a meal on him. If it feels wrong to you, then skip it. If you view it as helping your baby as much as it helps you, give it a try!
A babys tummy is small and as I always say, there are many adults who cant go 11-12 hours without eating, so I am not sure why we expect our babies to.
If you decide not to try it, or it doesnt work, I typically recommend night-weaning to the appropriate number of night feedings for a baby your age and according to your babys capabilities.
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To Burp Or Not To Burp
Finally, many parents wonder if burping is necessary during a dream feed. Dr. Hamilton-Spences advice is that burping your baby is not essential, though you can certainly do it if you think they need it. The need to burp after feeding really depends on each baby some can go without it, she says. Dr. Regan shares that it’s not essential or unsafe to forgo burping, but if your baby is prone to gas, it can be very helpful.
What Is Dream Feeding And How Do I Do It
If your baby awakes hungry each night, besides boosting daytime milk, it makes sense to boost evening calories by dream feeding your baby. Think of it like topping off the gas tank of your car by filling it to the brim…so there is no need to refuel during the journey ahead. The dream feed will eliminateor delayone of the top reasons babies awake through the night: rumbling in the tummy.
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How To Know That Your Baby Is Ready
Here is how to know if your baby is ready to try a dream feed. You want to find a time when your baby isnt out cold, but also when they arent fully awake, says Victoria Regan, MD, pediatrician, Childrens Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. Try to find a time when the baby is in a period of sleep where they are moving in their sleep, and then gently arouse them to feed by either putting the baby to breast , she describes.
Erin Hamilton-Spence, M.D., IBCLC, a neonatologist at Pediatrix Neonatology of Texas, suggests taking steps to minimize your baby fully waking up. Dream feeding means feeding your newborn/infant while they are almost entirely asleep, she says.
During the dream feed, keep things quiet and mellow. This isnt the time to change their diaper or do anything else to wake them. Feed them in a half-asleep state so that they will go back to sleep right after, Dr. Hamilton-Spence advises.
Burping After A Dream Feed
If you feel your sleeping baby needs to be burped, go ahead and attempt to burp them as you normally would during the day. Check in with your pediatrician to ask how long to attempt a burp before giving up and putting baby back to sleep.
The bottom line is that a dream feed done correctly can benefit baby AND parents by offering an extra dose of nutrition, while also possibly helping baby sleep!
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At What Age Should I Stop Dream Feeding
When it comes to duration as regards sleeping, feeding and Dream Feeding in babies, there is no one cap fits all. This is majorly because all babies are not the same and basically do not function in the same way.
You should stop Dream feeding your baby when you notice that they are able to go through consecutive nights without waking up.
Begin by stopping the second Dream Feeding, and then once in a while, stop the Dream feeding altogether.
When you notice that the bay can carry on their own all through the night without calling out for food, then you know that your baby is old enough to ditch Dream Feeding for good.
Bravo! Your baby is becoming a young adult !
How Do I Know When To Do A Dream Feed
The first thing youll want to do is look at when your baby is having their first feed of the night after bedtime.
With my own children, their bedtime would always be at 7pm and then their first feed when they were really little newborns was usually around 9.30-10.30pm. Very young babies will often wake for this feed naturally, so thats classed as a normal feed rather than a dream feed. If your baby is waking naturally for a feed before 11pm, we wouldnt advise introducing a dream feed at this stage.
As your newborn gets older though, they will likely stop waking for that feed before you go to bed. Instead, their first feed may not be until around midnight or 1am and then they will likely have a second feed after that as well usually around 4/5am when it can be tricky to resettle them back to sleep afterwards.
This is where dream feeding can help! By proactively feeding them around 10-11 pm before you go to bed, it can help to push that first feed later to around 3/4 am, which should then be enough to get them through until 7 am. So youre only waking to do one feed overnight rather than two winning!
For some older babies between 3-6 months, dream feeding between 10-11pm can be enough to see them through until morning without requiring another feed.
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The Feather Boob Technique
The most difficult method to dream feeding a breastfed baby, is simply nursing her.
Take your baby out of her crib, just as you would for a regular feeding, and try to rouse her just enough to latch, but not enough to fully wake. I call this the Feather Boob Technique, because essentially youll tickle her cheek or lips with your nipple.
The goal is to stimulate her rooting reflex.
I found it easier to sandwich my breast with one hand and either tickle my daughters cheek with a nipple or a wet washcloth.
If your baby absolutely will not wake enough to latch, try to time the dream feed to that natural point where his sleep cycle shifts.
Once your baby latches, his suckling instinct will take over and hell be able to feed himself in his sleep.
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Why Oh Why Do A Dream Feed
I read around and then tried to implement it with my baby girl. It took a while, but eventually we got the hang of it and Oh My Goodness game changer.
Now, as a certified baby and toddler sleep consultant its a go to sleep and feed strategy.
If you dont currently do the dream feed then this post will help you for a few reasons.
And if youre serious about making a few nightly changes, I suggest using a baby log to help clear our head and get it on paper.
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