How A Dreamfeed May Help Your Baby Sleep Through The Night

The perfect time to feed your newborn for a full night's sleep.

baby sleeping newborn
Trying to feed your baby so they don’t spend the night waking up hungry. It seems impossible, but we’re here to tell you that it’s easier than you think. More times than not, Chantal Murphy get many new parents asking her about what the dream feed is. Dreamfeed is the intention to minimize potential night wakings overnight due to hunger. It is also beneficial for babies who wake meltable times as this eliminates your baby waking and getting rewarded with food. As a resident newborn expert, Chantal Murphy gave Amodrn the 101 on dreamfeed and how you can do it today.

What Is A Dream Feed?

Put simply, a dream feed is done mostly between the hours of 10pm – 11pm. It is a method used to fill the baby up with milk at night – without waking them.

baby drinking milk
Image: Rainier Ridao

When Should You Introduce The Dreamfeed?

Dream feeds can start at any age, go on for as long as you’re willing and as long they’re working. A dreamfeed can be an excellent way to help a baby who is waking from hunger between 3 – 5am. Alternatively it is a gentle process if your intention is to stop night feeds altogether. There have been many situations where I will introduce a dream feed when working with my clients for babies between 6-12 months if they are waking frequently overnight. This is a way to rule out hunger as a cause for night wakings, especially when they may not be getting enough solids or milk during the day.

How To Successfully Achieve A Dreamfeed?

When you pick up your sleeping baby for the feed, the key is to minimize stimulation—don’t turn on the lights, chat or interact with him.. Keep in business only. If bottle feeding, you can put the bottle to their mouth whilst they remain in their cot. If breast feeding, gently lift your baby up while they are still asleep and put them on the breast.

When And How To Stop The Dreamfeed?

Once your baby can consistently sleep through the night. Option A: Bring the dream feed earlier by 15-30 minutes over a few nights: The final dream feed will be 1hr after their bedtime. Option B: Slowly reduce the amount of milk at the dream feed: If bottle feeding – Reduce the amount of milk given at each feed every 1-2 nights (by 20-30 ml). If your baby is drinking less than 60 ml at the dream feed, then you can consider eliminating this feed altogether. If breastfeeding, If your baby is feeding for longer than 5 minutes, then gradually reduce the time you are feeding by 1 – 2 mins every night over a period of 7 – 10 days.

baby sleeping
Image: Kevin Keith

Some FAQs:

Should I burp my baby after the dream feed?
Not necessarily, as babies tend to take in less wind because they are so relaxed.
What if my baby won’t eat for the dream feed?
If your baby is too sleepy to feed, then you can gently rub their cheeks, tickle their feet, put some milk on their lips to encourage them to rouse slightly and begin sucking. For especially young and sleepy babies, you can change their nappy before the feed if this helps.
Should I leave my baby swaddled for the dream feed?
In most cases, yes. Leave your baby swaddled. You want to stimulate them as little as possible – only enough to get them to feed. What if it’s not working?
I recommend you try for at least a week before giving up on a dream feed all together. Dream feeds are not for every baby. It’s also not a fool-proof solution to sleeping through the night. For some babies, there may be other factors as to why they are not sleeping through.

While you’re here, check out why the pressure to breastfeed may hurt a mother’s wellbeing.  

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