What Is The Dream Feed And How Can It Help Your Baby?
Keeping your little one on a regular sleep schedule is hard when hunger strikes in the middle of the night. Dream feeding your baby might be the perfect solution to keeping them full and sleepy so everyone can get a good night’s rest.
Understanding The Dream Feed
Simply put, dream feeding is when a mother nurses her baby without waking them up. Getting in one final feeding session before you go to bed (and while they’re fast asleep) can keep your little one from waking up hungry in the middle of the night.
How Does It Work?
The goal of the dream feed is to shift your baby’s sleeping schedule so it is more in line with your own. Many mothers who feed their baby before bed and then try to get a long stretch of sleep are disappointed when they hear that middle-of-the-night wake-up call.
However, putting your baby to bed around eight at night and then squeezing in another feed between 10 and 11 (without disturbing their sleep) creates a long stretch of peaceful snoozing for everyone.
At What Ages Does Dream Feeding Work Best?
While dream feeding can be a wonderful way to gain a few more hours of sleep, it’s important to know there’s only about a six-month period when this process is recommended for your little one.
This is because newborns need to eat at least every two to four hours, making those wake-up calls inevitable. Around two to three months, however, their stomachs are larger and ready to try dream feeding!
Steps To Dream Feeding
Thankfully, the steps to dream feeding your baby are simple. It all starts before they doze off to sleep and ends once you head to bed as well.
Create (And Maintain) A Bedtime Routine
Maintaining your little one’s bedtime routine is a helpful way to keep them fast asleep while dream feeding. Start by bathing them with Mustela Gentle Cleansing Gel, then gently pat them dry and make sure their diaper is clean and fresh.
And for any little ones at the later end of dream feeding, be sure to dress them in a pair of Stelatopia Skin Soothing Pajamas to help moisturize their skin throughout the night.
Once they are all ready for bed, it’s time to feed them, put them to sleep, and wait!
Hold Without Waking
After your little one is fed and has been fast asleep for at least two hours, hold them in your arms as you normally would to feed them. At this time, your baby should be resting but not quite in the deepest part of their slumber known as REM sleep.
Begin To Feed
With your baby in your arms, stimulate a latch and begin to feed. If breastfeeding, you can alternate about five to 10 minutes on each side. This length of feed should keep them from waking up hungry in the middle of the night.
Expert tip: If you’re experiencing some discomfort while breastfeeding, try our Nursing Comfort Balm. The lanolin-free balm moisturizes and protects nipples, eases discomfort, and helps to replenish and restore skin during and after breastfeeding.
Burp Your Baby
Don’t forget to burp the little one after they eat! Even though they’re sleeping, gas is still building up and will need to be released. Doing this will keep your baby from waking up in pain.
A good way to make sure your baby is getting all their gas out is to burp them between breastfeeding on each side. Or, if bottle feeding, take a few short breaks and then spend about five minutes burping them in your arms before putting them back to sleep.
Don’t be discouraged if your baby isn’t burping like they usually do. Do what you can but know that the gas will likely make its way out the other end as your little one snoozes.
Put Them Back To Bed
Finally, it’s time to put them back in the crib and let them sleep through the night with a full and satisfied tummy!
By working this feed into their routine, your baby’s schedule should begin to align better with yours, and they won’t wake up hungry until the early morning.
How Can The Dream Feed Help Your Baby?
Dream feeding is one of many ways that you can bond with your little one, and the benefits make it so everyone can enjoy the process.
A Well-Nourished Little One
This feeding method creates a regular schedule for your baby, making it so they’re fed at the same time instead of waking up at random points throughout the night.
This routine also ensures they’re receiving enough calories so they have the right amount of energy stored in their little body.
Better Sleep For Your Baby
Once your baby is about three months old, long stretches of sleep can be a very normal part of their life. Unless they’re waking up hungry, that is!
Giving them a dream feed ensures that they get the unbroken sleep they need during the night. While it is still perfectly normal for them to wake up early in the morning, an 8-hour stretch of sleep is wonderful for sleep training.
Bonus: Better Sleep For You!
Speaking of long stretches of sleep — isn’t that just the dream? Getting your little one to stay fast asleep until morning is a fantastic way to help you get back into an unbroken sleep routine as well.
Your baby benefits, you benefit, everyone benefits from the dream feed.
Risks Of The Dream Feed
Although the dream feed might seem like a cure-all for sleep, there are risks to stay aware of, especially when first trying to get your baby into the habit.
And as with anything else concerning your baby, always check with their pediatrician before beginning something new.
When not done properly, dream feeding increases the risk that your baby might choke. To avoid this, keep your baby’s head elevated and their body upright. Never feed them while they’re lying down or too long past the two-hour mark of first putting them to bed.
Another risk that comes along with the dream feed is feeding your little one too much. Nourishing them at this time might keep them from getting hungry later in the night, but there isn’t much that can be done if they don’t want the food to begin with.
Signs that a dream feed is giving your baby too much food include late-night fits or more spitting up than usual. Overfeeding can also lead to more soiled diapers and diaper rash.
However, if this does occur, taking care of their diaper rash is as simple as using our Diaper Cream with Olive Oil and Aloe. This talc-free formula leaves a moisturizing layer on your baby’s skin to soothe and diminish redness at every diaper change.
Dream Feeding: Takeaways
If your little one is rejecting the dream feed, regularly waking up, or throwing a fit while eating, don’t be discouraged. This method is not for every baby, and the window to feed this way is short.
Another thing to keep in mind is that this might not be right for every parent. Creating a dream feed routine means coordinating a specific sleep schedule for you as well. When your little one is asleep, you’ll need to stay up for another two hours or wake up at the time of the feed.
And after a few months of adding a dream feed to your baby’s schedule, they won’t need this routine round of nourishment to sleep through the night. They’ll begin sleeping for long stretches of time all on their own.
No matter what stage your baby is in, we at Mustela are here to make sure they’re happy and healthy every step of the way! Shop a wide range of essentials from skincare to certified organic products for all the best ways to care for your little one today.