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Dream Feeding

To Dream Feed Or Not To Dream Feed?


Dream feeding is another hot topic and question I get asked about frequently. Dream feeding has become increasingly popular in recent years, however it is still a topic that has divided opinions as to whether it works or not.
 
For those of you who may not be familiar with the dream feed, it involves feeding your baby whilst they are still asleep (rather than baby waking naturally for a feed), and is generally given between 10-11pm before parents go to bed. The idea is that it will help “tank baby up”, giving both baby and yourself a longer stretch of sleep before the next feed (or aim to have them sleep through until the morning). 

A lot of parents swear by dream feeding and say it helped give everyone more rest, and helped their baby sleep through the night earlier. However for other parents, they say it made things worse as their baby would wake and be hard to settle afterwards, it created a waking habit, or their baby would simply wake a few hours later for another feed anyway. 

Dreamfeed

To help you make your decision if dream feeding is right for your baby and family, I have listed below the pros and cons:
 
Pros:
  • You are able to feed your baby just before you go to bed, hoping you will then get a big stretch of sleep.
  • Dads can help out with this feed and give a bottle of formula or expressed breast milk so mum can get to bed earlier and get a solid block of sleep before the next feed.
  • Weaning from a dream feed can sometimes be easier than weaning from a normal night feed (given your baby is not waking at all during the dream feed).
Cons:
  • The deepest phase of sleep occurs between 9pm and midnight, so your baby may be either too deeply asleep to even drink much milk, or you may be disturbing them during this deepest part of their night sleep and then making it more difficult for them to settle back to sleep afterwards.
  • If your baby wakes during a dream feed or you continue dream feeding for a long time (in terms of their age), this can create a night time feeding habit which otherwise may not have been there in the first place.
  • For some babies a dream feed will make no difference to how long they sleep for afterwards and they will still wake at the time they would have anyway without the dream feed.
  • It can be difficult to know when to stop dream feeding and when your baby may be capable of sleeping through the night without it.
Here at Sweet Dreams I generally don’t recommend dream feeds. This is mainly because it can interfere with a baby’s deepest phase of sleep (between 9pm and midnight), potentially leading to more night wakings, and it can sometimes create a habit that can be hard to eliminate later on. Instead, I believe it’s better to allow your baby’s sleep patterns to develop naturally and have them wake when they are truly hungry, not because you have taught them to do so.
 
However, the dream feed can work beautifully for some babies and I don’t think it hurts to try if you think it would suit you and your family. Give it a go for a week to see if it works for your baby. A good guide is that if you dream feed, but then your baby wakes again around 1-2am hungry, then the dream feed isn’t working for you. In this situation, it’s highly likely if you drop the dream feed, they will sleep through till 1-2am anyway. The best time to introduce the dream feed is prior to 3 months of age, and to stop dream feeding before 6 months of age.
 
I hope this information helps. Here at Sweet Dreams we can provide you with specific advice for your particular situation and help with dream feeding, other night feedings or wakings, and much more. If you'd like to contact us by email for some sleep advice or help then just click here. We’d love to hear from you.
 
If you're also interested in our article on Sleeping Through the Night, just click here.

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Testimonial

After two weeks of implementing Emma’s Personalised Sleep Plan the feeding to sleep habit has been broken, day sleeps are lengthening and are now between 60 and 90 minutes long and he has started sleeping through the night!  

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