The Dream Feed- The Sleep Dept.
The Dream Feed- by The Sleep Dept.
WHAT IS A DREAMFEED?
The dreamfeed is the last feed of your baby’s day. It happens approximately 2-3 hours after your baby has had their bedtime feed. This usually occurs between 10pm-11pm. As an example; your baby’s last feed is at 7pm and your baby is asleep by 730pm. The aim is that before you (or your partner!) goes to bed, your baby has one more feed, which in theory, fills them up and helps them to sleep a long stretch of sleep. Our babies have a tummy full of milk, that will allow parents and baby to sleep well.
HOW DO YOU DO THE DREAMFEED?
The dreamfeed is done in the deep part of a baby’s sleep cycle, which is why they tend not to wake up during the feed.
- Gently pick your baby up (keeping them in their swaddle or sleeping bag) at around 10-11pm
- Feed your baby, aiming to give them a full bottle OR both sides.
- Do not worry about burping your baby. Our babies are so relaxed here, that the need to burp them is not needed as they aren’t taking in as much air.
- Place them back down.
WHAT HAPPENS IF MY BABY WAKES DURING THE DREAMFEED?
Hold them until calm, and then place them down to fall asleep on their own. Even though they have woken, they are still in the ‘deep’ part of their sleep cycle, so falling back to sleep shouldn’t take long.
HOW OLD DOES MY BABY HAVE TO BE FOR IT TO WORK?
The idea is that you introduce the Dream Feed once your baby no longer needs to be feeding every 3 hours overnight. This happens around 3 months.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO WORK?
It can take a couple of weeks to master. For the first few nights, you might find that even though your baby is filling up at the dreamfeed, they are still waking at the same times they previously were. Try and remind yourself, we are dealing with tiny little human beings here, not robots. This isn’t something that they will be able to adapt to overnight. It simply takes time.
YOU’LL KNOW IT’S WORKING FOR YOU IF…
…each night, the stretch of sleep becomes longer and longer. If night 1 your baby wakes at 130am, night 2 they wake at 145am, night 3 they wake at 3 am and so on, your baby is one step closer to having that long-awaited longer stretch of sleep.
YOU’LL KNOW IT’S NOT WORKING FOR YOU IF…
…you have given it a week, and your baby is still waking up multiple times overnight OR they can’t stretch out their sleep. Sometimes, this late night feed actually interrupts their deep sleep and makes it really hard for them to fall back to sleep. Unfortunately, the Dream Feed doesn’t work for all babies.
*If your baby does not take the feed, they might be a little too young.
WHEN & HOW DO I DROP THE DREAMFEED?
There is no set age that a baby stops Dream Feeding. If the Dream Feed works for you, keep it! If your baby has started to consistently sleep through and you feel they are ready to drop it, drop it! There are a couple of ways this can be done, both gradual.
1 . Start to bring your baby’s Dream Feed forward. Start by 15 minutes every 3 nights until you get to about 8-9pm, before dropping it altogether.
2 . Slowly start reducing the amount of milk at the Dream Feed by 20-30ml if bottle feeding until your baby is having about 60ml. At this point, decide whether it’s time to stop the feed completely. If breastfeeding, minimise the amount of time your baby is feeding by 2 minutes every 3 nights.