A Step-By-Step Guide To Dream Feeds For New Parents
If you need help getting your baby to sleep longer at bedtime, you should consider dream feeds -- this will encourage your little one to wake up less frequently throughout the night and allows you to get some much needed rest!
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with some strong cravings for a grilled cheese sandwich, or a warm cup of Milo?
You’ll either shuffle half-asleep to the kitchen to grab yourself a quick midnight snack before crashing back on your bed again, or you’ll just try your best to ignore those hunger pangs and force yourself to go back to sleep.
But did you know that by letting your baby have a late night feeding halfway through the night, it can actually help him sleep better and for longer?
This simple method is called “dream feeding” and it helps your little one to sleep soundly (almost) through the whole night, giving you some more time to catch up on some shut eye as well.
So what exactly do you do during dream feeds and what do the experts have to say about it?
Step-by-step guide to dream feeds
Mastering the technique of dream feeding is not as complicated as you think it might be, and once you get the hang of it, it will probably become second nature — just like everything else you will pick up along the way throughout your parenting journey.
According to Tizzie Hall, the International Baby Whisperer and the Director of Save Our Sleep, below are the five simple steps all parents should follow to achieve successful dream feeds:
STEP ONE – Gently pick up your sleeping baby.
STEP TWO – Place the bottle or breast on his lower lip.
STEP THREE- Coax him to drink, but be careful not to wake him up!
STEP FOUR – When he’s finished, let him sit upright for a few minutes to allow any wind to escape.
STEP FIVE – Slowly put him back in his baby crib and let him continue sleeping.
Hall encourages parents to try dream feeds so as to help avoid you having to get up more than once during the night.
“When your baby is about eight weeks old, I recommend the dream feed at 10.30 at night. If you followed the routine but didn’t have the dream feed, your baby would go to sleep at 7pm and maybe wake between 11pm and 1am for the next feed”, she explains.
If your baby wakes up at 1.30am for a feeding, he might finally go back to sleep again around 2.30am — but then he might wake up again at 5:30am for another feed, and by the time you get him back to sleep, it’s about time for you to start your day.
However with dream feeds, if your little one usually sleeps until 2am, he is more likely to sleep all the way until 7am — which means that you only have to get up once in the night for the feeding.
Is it really that easy?
This is not a magic formula that will literally happen overnight — it will take a bit of time, patience and consistent routine for you to stick to the dream feeds each night for it to be successful.
With dream feeding, your bub’s usual 2am feeding might become 2.30am instead, then 3am, then 3.30am and so on and so forth, until eventually your baby is sleeping all the way to 7am by himself.
However if your little one is waking up at 6am, you don’t have to wait until 7am to feed him — since he has slept so soundly through the night for such a long stretch, chances are that he will wake up pretty hungry, so just feed him as soon as he wakes up.
That way, he will remain full and happy until his next feed later on in the day.
Here are some helpful tips as to how you can have successful dream feeds:
- Place your baby’s crib right next to your bed so you have easier access to him
- Consider co-sleeping safely with your bub
- Dream feeds are usually recommended between 10pm and midnight
- Wait for three hours or four hours after your baby’s last feed before attempting to dream feed him so that he won’t still feel so full
It might be frustrating to not get enough sleep and take care of a baby 24/7 — and even if for some reason junior doesn’t seem to take well to dream feeds, just continue to feed him when he’s hungry and be patient with him.
Babies don’t stay small forever and some day you might actually miss waking up in the middle of the night to gently rock your little one to sleep.
Have you tried dream feeds before? Do you have any other tips for other parents on how to make it work? Share your comments with us below