April 23, 2021 4 min read
Are you a new or soon to be new mother to a little angel? If so, your research may have led you to something called ‘dream feeding’. Dreams are good. Getting fed is good. But what IS dream feeding, and how can you do it?
In this guide, we’ll help you understand what dream feeding is and how you can dream feed your own little bundle of joy.
Babies can be fussy, waking up hungry in the middle of the night, demanding that you bust out the bottle or slip out the nip for a midnight snack. This is an experience nearly all mothers go through.
This is especially true for those babies who tend to fall asleep between 5-9pm, leaving them with a rumbling empty tummy by the time the middle of the night hits, waking you (and everyone else up) with screams quite impressive for such a little thing.
Although increasing your child’s daytime intake of milk can help, dream feeding offers a safe and effective way to help boost nighttime calories and ensure your baby feels satiated throughout the night. This can lead to improved sleep (for you and them), as well as improved development and adequate nutrition.
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Before you call it a night and tuck yourself in for the evening, a little dream feeding might be in order. Dream feeding involves gently rousing your baby (but don’t wake them all the way up), and then feeding them in this state of mild awareness.
Luckily for tired parents just trying to keep up with their little one’s evolving sleep schedule, dream feeding is quick, simple and easy.
If you’re ready to give it a try, follow these steps…
There is one word we have for this step, and that’s ‘delicate’. When taking the child out of their sleeping environment, go slow, and be gentle. We don’t want to fully wake them.
Some research suggests that dream feeding around 10pm-12am is the best time to fill up your little one’s tank for a restful sleep until morning.
Take the bottle or your breast and position the nipple on your child’s lower lip. This is a stimulus that often initiates feeding with your baby taking the nipple of the bottle or breast on their own. They will do this without fully waking up, eyes closed and everything.
We suggest encouraging nursing for anywhere between 5-10 minutes per side, alternating to the other side for an additional 5-10 minutes or until your little one rejects the bottle/nipple and stops suckling.
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Pro Tip:If your little one is in a deeper state of sleep, you may need to rouse them a little. This can be achieved by gently tickling their toes, changing their diaper, or placing a cool wet washcloth over their legs or forehead.
We already covered the basics, but let’s give you one more run down…
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In some cases, your baby may wake up again around 3-4am despite having had a dream feed earlier in the evening. If this is the case, you have two options.
One, you can increase the time you spend on the first dream feed to see if that fills up your little one’s tummy enough to make it through the evening till morning.
The second option is a second dream feed when they wake up. But here’s the catch. You don’t want to ‘reward’ the behavior of waking up at 3am with a feeding. So you’ll need to keep a journal and anticipate when they usually wake up. Once you do this, you can proactively get your child up for a dream feed on YOUR schedule, not theirs.
This is an easy one. The answer4 is always ‘yes’. Although you may want to be extra gentle about it so as to not wake them all the way up.
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Dream feeds should be kept short, sweet and to the point. This is not a time to keep your baby in an extended period of half-sleep. As previously mentioned, usually between 5-10 minutes is all that’s needed.
Every child is unique. Because of this, there isn’t a specific age that we can tell you to stop at. However, many mothers find that they can skip (or ween off of) dream feeds somewhere between the 2-4 week mark of your infant sleeping well from the time of the feed until morning.
Try dream feeding yourself and get the sleep you and your little one deserve. Have more questions? Need more tips on getting a good night’s sleep as a new mother? Let us know how we can help.
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