What is a dream feed? Is it helpful? Today, we’re answering these questions and more! When it comes to decisions around feeding your little one and her sleep, there’s no shortage of opinions. My hope is that by understanding dream feeds better, you can make a decision that works best for your family.
A dream feed is a planned feeding technique where you take your baby out of bed while they are asleep and provide a feeding. This typically would happen before the parent goes to bed. The idea is that by providing an additional feeding before you go to bed, your little one may sleep longer.
The idea is to prolong your little one’s longest stretch of sleep. Instead of having her longest stretch of sleep at the beginning of the night, her longest stretch of sleep would hopefully occur after the dream feed. This would then allow you and your little one to get the longest stretch of sleep when you first go to bed. A dream feed often helps you, the parent, get a longer stretch of sleep in as well!
Typically, a dream feed would be offered to your little one right before you go to bed. Ideally, this would be 2-3 hours after your little one’s bedtime. This helps to ensure that your little one will be hungry enough to take a full feed while also ensuring she will go back to sleep without too much fuss.
It’s generally pretty simple – before you go to bed or 2-3 hours after baby’s bedtime, take your little one out of their crib or bassinet and offer a full feeding.
I recommend keeping quiet and calm to minimize stimulation and help keep your little one drowsy. Offer the breast or bottle to the baby while she is still asleep. This can be done by gently waking her enough to latch onto the breast or take the bottle nipple. The aim is to provide a full feeding, allowing her to take in a substantial amount of milk. After the feeding is complete, burp your little one if necessary. Gently pat or rub her back to help release any trapped air. Once she has been burped, carefully place her back in the crib or sleep space while she is still drowsy. The hope is that she will seamlessly transition back into deep sleep.
The only way to know is to give it a try! You can experiment for a few days and see if providing a dream feed results in extended sleep duration for you and baby. It is important to note that not all babies respond to dream feeds in the same way. Some may benefit from this feeding technique, while others may not show any significant improvement in sleep patterns.
If you have any questions about dream feeds or how to help your little one sleep longer at nighttime, I invite you to reach out to me.