A dream feed is a nighttime feeding that occurs around 10-11 PM when baby is still sleeping. Baby is kept asleep for the whole process, but roused just enough to latch on to the breast or bottle.
The goal is to fill baby's belly to help them sleep longer during the night. The end result is hopefully more sleep for baby, and more sleep for mom and dad.
When should I begin a dream feed?
Newborns need to feed as frequently as they wake at night, so I don't recommend starting a dream feed until baby is in a set routine and has a consistent bedtime (usually 6-7 PM). This generally occurs around 3-4 months or 12-13 lbs.
If baby is over 3 months, or 12-13 lbs, and still waking multiple times a night to eat, you can attempt a dream feed with pediatrician's approval.
How do I do a dream feed?
When you notice baby is waking around 10-11 PM for a feeding, that's when you can begin a dream feed. Schedule your dream feed for 45 minutes to an hour before the waking (ideally about the time you'd be going to bed). Keep the room dark, quiet and boring, and be sure to not wake baby! Once baby has completed a feed, offer a good burp if needed, and place baby back in her crib. If she starts to stir, you can gently pat and "shhhh" back to sleep.
Tips for a successful dream feed:
Baby should be extremely drowsy if not fully asleep still
Make sure baby isn't lying flat and is able to pace their suck/swallow/breathing during the feed
Keep lights low or off
Avoid diaper changes
Keep baby asleep
How do I know if it worked?
Keep in mind that the dream feed works about 50% of the time. If successful, you should see 3-4 hours of sleep after this, sometimes even longer! If baby wakes upon you entering the room, wakes during the feed or shortly after, or has disrupted sleep the rest of the night and is waking more frequently (every 1-2 hours), then the dream feed is likely not right for your baby.
If baby stays asleep during the feed and gets in at least a 3 hour stretch of sleep after, then it works for your child!
Do I need to dream feed?
Not at all. Whether or not to offer a dream feed is completely up to you and is not a nutritional necessity for baby. If hungry, baby will wake and let you know. Similarly, if baby is sleeping through the night, a dream feed isn't necessary.
If baby is under 3 months old, or under 12-13 lbs, do not attempt a dream feed. Baby still needs to eat more frequently at night and will need to be fed anytime she wakes.
If you need help sorting through your baby's sleep, set up a free 15-minute consultation with me to discuss my sleep solutions!