Maybe you have heard of this or maybe you haven’t but this is a very common recommendation made on blogs or mom groups to help with sleep. So, what is a dream feed?
A dream feed is a feeding that occurs in the first half of the night before the parents go to bed. Baby is woken up, usually around 9-11 pm and fed and then settled back into bed afterwards. The goal of this feed being that the parent could potentially end up getting a longer stretch of sleep at the beginning of their sleep in hope the baby is full for another couple of hours!
Can Dream feeds be helpful? – Potentially, yes.. When they work, they work well in helping everyone get extra sleep. Although, this isn’t always the case, sometimes a dream feed won’t help….
Imagine your baby falls asleep around 7pm — and normally sleeps 5 hours at the beginning of the night, this would have them waking up around midnight – not ideal if you fell asleep at 10pm. Now say you woke your baby around 10pm, they fed and then slept 5 hours. That is getting you to a 3-4am feeding, giving you a longer stretch of sleep! – For SOME babies this is how the dream feed works and it goes beautifully.
Unfortunately for some babies having a dream feed doesn’t make a difference, they still wake up around midnight or even worse, the dream feed makes it hard for them to fall asleep afterwards and staying asleep is a challenge. – This has to do with the science of sleep. At the beginning of the night is when your baby is in their deepest stage of sleep so taking them out of this may cause disruption to sleep patterns and possibly a challenging night to follow.
If you are keen to try a dream feed GO for it! If after 3-4 nights, it isn’t working, either your baby is still waking at the same times or waking more frequently then I would drop the feed — I always say to give any change at least 3 days to truly see how your baby reacts. One time isn’t enough!
If you are in need of some support in navigating how to help your baby with longer stretches of sleep, please reach out to your local mama coach!