What Is a Dream Feed and How Do You Do It?
As a new parent, you spend a lot of time wondering if baby is meeting their developmental milestones. Also: Sleep. More specifically, how to get more sleep as a new parent. While there isn’t a magic product or trick to give you more shut-eye in those newborn days, a dream feed might just help your frequent waker snooze for longer at night.
This post-bedtime feeding is a relativity modern technique to top-off your baby’s tank so they will (hopefully) sleep longer before needing another feeding. Research shows that increasing infant calories during the day can decrease the feedings at night. In this guide to dream feeding, we’ll dive into how to do a dream feed and other dream feed tips.
More sleep awaits, so let’s get into it.
What Is a Dream Feed?
A dream feed is a feeding that takes place when your little one is asleep. Typically, this feeding session is between 10pm and midnight. Studies have shown that dream feeding helps reduce night wakings, and this sleepy top-off will hopefully extend baby’s sleep by three or four hours.
And the good news is that dream feeding is for everyone. Parents can offer breastfed or bottle-fed babies a late-night feeding.
When can you Start Dream Feeding Your Baby?
Start dream feeding around two or three months old.
Newborns have tiny bellies and won’t require a lot of milk to become full, which is why they’ll eat as often as every one to three hours. As their stomach grows, baby will gradually drink more milk and give you longer stretches between feedings—typically every two to four hours. This is a good time to try introducing a dream feed.
How do you Dream Feed Your Baby?
Follow these simple steps dream feed your little one successfully.
- Gently pick up your baby and try not to wake them.
- Try to minimize all disruptions. If baby is swaddled or in a sleep sack, there is no need to unwrap or undress them.
- Activate your baby’s rooting reflex by gently touching your breast or the bottle’s nipple to their cheek. If baby doesn’t automatically turn toward the nipple, place it on their lower lip to get them to latch.
- Baby will sleep while they eat. Once they’re finished eating, return baby to their crib or bassinet.
What are the Benefits of Dream Feeding?
- Baby might sleep longer: One of the most common reasons your little one is waking at night is hunger. Filling that little belly up with milk can lead to longer stretches.
- Training to sleep through the night: Remember sleeping through the night? Dream feeding can help baby acclimate to longer stretches without food or waking up. Restful sleep is coming soon!
- Avoid “suck-to-sleep”: Self-soothing is an important lesson for baby to learn. For many newborns, feeding is a comforting experience that naturally lulls them to sleep. Because dream feeds happen when baby is asleep, this feed can avoid the association of needing to nurse or take a bottle to fall asleep.
- Breastfeeding moms may find comfort: Nursing before going to sleep can provide moms relief from the uncomfortable feeling of having full breasts—and hopefully cut down on those pesky leaks!
- A calorie boost for baby: Extra calories help extend sleeping hours. Speak with your pediatrician if you think your child might be underweight.
Are There Risks to Dream Feeding?
The biggest risk of dream feedings is that your little one will wake up and not return to dreamland quickly or easily. Like most parenting skills, practice makes perfect, and you should get the hang of the undisturbed feeding in a night or two.
Dream Feedings FAQs
Are you dreaming of more sleep yet? Here are a few other dream feeding tips you’ll want to know.
Is a dream feed a full feed?
While the amount will vary depending on your baby’s hunger and level of sleep, the dream feed is normally around 3 ounces for bottle-fed kiddos and five to 10 minutes per side if you’re breastfeeding.
Should I burp my baby after a dream feed?
Yes, you can burp after a dream feed. If baby is prone to gas, Infants’ Mylicon is safe for use with all infants–even the newest of newborns. Mylicon can be used at every feeding, up to 12 times a day (use only as directed).
Do I pick up my baby when dream feeding?
Yes, you should pick up your baby for a dream feed. Hold them in your preferred feeding position.
Should I change my baby’s diaper after a dream feed?
That isn’t necessary as it will only increase the chances of waking baby up. However, if you suspect (ahem, smell) a dirty diaper, you might consider a quick and stealth-like change.
When should I stop dream feeding my baby?
There is no hard and fast rule here but generally, consider stopping a few weeks after your baby is capable of sleeping soundly after the dream feed until the morning. And don’t stress if the concept of dream feeding isn’t working for you or baby!
Up next, want to understand baby’s feeding schedule before starting to dream feed? We’ve got all the info right here.