Does your baby wake up several times in the night to get the feeding? Do they end up getting cranky at night after one of the feeds? Does your baby make you stay up all day and all night due to their feeding patterns? Are you curious about what is a dream feed? Or maybe you’re just a concerned to-be parent who is looking up online for all the tips and tricks that this web has to offer about parenting. In either case, you have come to the right place! Dream feeding has been used by the moms since the early ages and yet most of them do not know the right things about it. We have prepared for you an ultimate guide on Dream Feeding! Read on to know more about what is dream feeding and how you can dream feed your baby.
What is Dream Feeding?
A dream feed is a late-night feeding that is given to the babies before the mother or the caregiver goes to sleep. This is generally given about two to three hours after the baby has been put to sleep in the night. Dream feeds are not ‘wanted’ by the babies, they are initiated by the parents in order to ensure that the baby doesn’t wake up in the middle of the sleep. The concept of dream feeding is actually very beneficial for the parents or the caregivers as it lets them have a good night’s sleep after the dream feed.
This involves partially waking the baby up from the sleep to feed them. The basic idea is to give your baby a late feed that may fill them up enough so that they sleep for a longer stretch overnight. This, thereby, facilitates more sleep for yourself too. As a result, both you and your dear baby can have longer and uninterrupted sleep.
Why is Dream Feed Better than Normal Feeding?
Dream feeding during the night is better than normal feeding not just for the baby but for you as well. Dream feeding ensures that the baby does not wake up hungry in the middle of the night, not once but several times thus making the night difficult for both you and themselves. With dream feeding, you can feed your baby before he/she gets hungry thus ensuring they don’t end up cranky and crying. This also means that you will be providing the right nutrition to your baby at the right times. And above all, dream feeding helps you catch up on a good night’s sleep since you feed the baby before it gets hungry and thus does not wake up frequently during the night.
When to Start Dream Feeding your Baby?
Generally, parents start Dream feeding their baby any time between six weeks and four months. The right time is to start after the baby does not need to be fed every three hours at night. That being said, it is still not too late for trying to dream feed your baby even as your baby is six months old as the babies need to increase their caloric intake around this time.
The dream feeding baby method is so convenient and healthy that many parents end up continuing it until they are absolutely confident that their babies can go all night without being fed and can sleep for 11 to 12 hours without feeding. With this, you need to keep in mind that if parents stop dream feeding their baby before they are ready, they may start waking up too early in the day.
It has been observed that most formula-fed or bottle feeding babies are able to stop with dream feeding around seven months while the breastfed babies stop at around ten months. Ideally, dream feeding works best for babies from three to nine months old. Since newborns need to be fed quite frequently, they cannot be started to dream feed. Only after they are around two months old do they start going longer stretches.
When to Stop Dream Feeding?
There is no fixed month or week at which you can stop the dream feeding. You need to look for hints from your baby’s sleeping pattern to indicate that to you. Generally, once the baby starts to consistently sleep throughout the night without needing a second-night feed, you can try to gradually move the dream feed a little earlier each night until you are assured that you can drop it altogether.
It is generally seen that nine or ten months old babies can sleep throughout the night without any dream feed on their own. But if your baby starts to wake earlier when you start the dream feed to be earlier, you must go back to giving the dream feed at the previous time and try again after a couple of weeks.
How to Dream Feed your Baby?
If you have been reading about dream feeding and this looks like something you should give a try, here are two simple steps with which you can learn how to dream feed.
The first step is to rouse the baby without waking them up fully. This means that the baby will have to be alert just enough to latch on to the mother’s breast or the bottle. However, you will have to be extra careful to not wake them fully since that could lead them to get cranky throwing the entire night off. The way one wakes up the baby depends on the baby itself. Usually, wake them with a slight and gentle stir and take them out from the crib into the feeding position.
And the next and final step is to feed them! This goes like a normal feeding session. You have to make sure that the baby’s head is slightly elevated to reduce the risk of choking posed by lying flat during the feeding session. If you use a bottle to feed, you can slightly wiggle the bottle inside your baby’s mouth for initiating suckling. In case of breastfeeding, you will just have to get the baby to latch on to the nipple and start suckling.
And this is it! Yes, dream feeding is this simple!
How to make your Baby fall back Asleep after Dream Feed?
After one dream feeding session is over, the baby usually falls asleep by the end of it. But if they don’t, there are a few ways to make your baby fall back asleep. You can try to swaddle your baby and shush them into sleep. You can swing their crib a little bit to make them fall asleep. If your baby is used to sleeping in your lap, make them position on their side or stomach in your lap to make them fall asleep faster!
Breast or bottle while dream feeding?
Either works! You do not have to worry about dream feeding working with just breastfeeding or bottle feeding because it actually works just perfect with both!
Do you burp a baby after a dream feed?
You do not need to burp your baby after the dream feed since during the dream feeding sessions, your baby will tend to take in lesser wind due to their relaxed state. After a session of dream feeding, you may, at max, stand your baby up for a few minutes to allow any trapped air to escape.
Should I wake my baby for a second dream feed?
This can be a little tricky. If you notice that your baby still frequently wakes up around 3 am even after the dream feed, you can consider giving them another feed at that time. The idea here is to dream feed your baby before they wake you up for the normal feed. Second dream feeds are actually pretty common, so you do not need to worry about that.
What if my baby is too drowsy and won’t eat during the dream feed?
This is a very common question. Babies sometimes tend to sleep in deep sleep and get too drowsy. All you need to do here is to give a little more stimulation in order to awaken them enough to feed but not wake them up completely. You can try to run a wet wipe or a cloth across the baby’s cheeks or tickle the bottom of their feet. You can also try to put some milk on their lips.
If none of these tricks seems to work, you might want to let your baby sleep and try again later. You cannot, and should not force it on the baby, or yourself. After all, there is also a risk of having your baby get all cranky if they wake up entirely.
Dream feeding works just perfect for most babies and will probably work for yours too. You might have to give it some time though, and that is fine. However, just in case this method does not look like something that you and your baby can benefit from, you do not have to worry about that either. There is nothing wrong with your parenting techniques or your baby. It is very well possible that this method may not suit everyone. And therefore, our final advice is to make sure that you give it a try! We also hope that our dream feeding guide helped you attain clarity about this topic as well!