Dream Feeding: What It Is & How To Do It

Dream Feeding: What It Is & How To Do It

After spending what felt like forever going through the bedtime routine, your small bundle finally closed their tiny peepers and drifted off to dreamland. While you might be tempted to get cozy on the couch to catch up on your favorite Netflix series, sleep is calling your name. Like a siren sweetly calling sailors in the night, your body gravitates to the bed where you collapse. 

To function the next day, all you need are a few hours of uninterrupted shut-eye — and perhaps a whole lot of coffee! But right as you start to slip into an oh-so-wonderful slumber, it happens —your baby is awake, crying, and hungry. 

You love your little buddy and understand that infants need to wake up every few hours throughout the night to feed. But you deserve to catch some vitamin Zzz, too! This is one of those instances that makes a bleary-eyed parent desperate for any possible solution to get their tiny tot to snooze just a wee bit longer. If only your sweet angel could give you a little more than an hour or two of quality sleep before needing to be fed again. 

Well, exhausted parents — there just might be an easy-peasy solution for you, dream feeding. 

Interested to learn more? We thought so. Read on to discover everything you need to know about dream feeding, including what it is and how to do it. 

Sweet dreams, ahead! 

What is Dream Feeding?   

Coined by author and baby expert Tracey Hogg, dream feeding is defined as feeding a young infant while he or she sleeps.

Most parents wake to their little one’s beckoning call to eat during the wee hours of the night. The baby gives the parent a signal (fussing or crying) that they are hungry, and the exhausted parent zombie-walks down the hall to the nursery to feed. 

When you dream feed your baby, however, you’ll be the one to rouse them from slumber and initiate a feeding — not the other way around. These dream feedings usually occur an hour or two after your snoozy infant has hit the hay, generally right before you hop into bed yourself.

The idea behind late-night dream feeding is to fuel up your baby’s tummy before you go to sleep in the hopes that they’ll be able to snooze for a longer stretch before walking again. Suppose your baby stays asleep for longer bouts of time throughout the night. You just might finally be able to get those few hours of uninterrupted shut-eye that you’ve so desperately been after since bringing your small bundle home from the hospital. (Sleepy parents, rejoice!)

How Does Dream Feeding Work?

There’s no right or wrong way to dream feed — and a lot depends on where your precious babe catches zzz’s at night. If you’ve decided to room-share, your tiny tot will likely be in arms reach (either next to you or in their own little bed). 

In this case, you’d simply feed your baby with as minimal disturbance as possible. 

On the other hand, little ones who snooze in a separate room should be fed somewhere close to their sleeping space in a dark and quiet place. It’s of the utmost importance to try to minimize any disruptions that could wake your small dreamer. 

Thanks to their rooting reflex, infants will automatically turn their heads to look for the nipple when you gently touch your breast or bottle to their cheek — even when they’re sound asleep. 

If your baby is snoozing deeply, however, they may not latch, so you’ll have to gently rouse them a bit. That being said, it’s often best to avoid waking them and instead wait 15 to 20 minutes when they’re in a lighter stage of REM sleep. 

When your infant isn’t in a deep state of sleep, they should be able to latch successfully. 

At What Age Can You Start Dreaming Feeding an Infant?

Tiny babies have tiny tummies and need to eat at least every two to four hours. Once your sweet pea starts showing signs that they can go for longer stretches of three to four hours between night time feeds, then you could give dream feeding a try.

With that in mind, it helps to set your little one up for sleeping success by establishing a consistent bedtime routine and teaching them to fall asleep independently. 

While there’s no one-size-fits-all pre-sleep ritual due to all babies being different, we recommend experimenting with a few calming activities to see what suits your little one best. 

Maybe start your bedtime routine with a warm bubble bath using our Soothing Shampoo & Body Wash with Calendula, followed by a relaxing infant massage using our Nourishing Body Lotion with Oat & Shea Butter

From there, you could do a snuggly bedtime story, a sweet lullaby, and then a final feeding before it’s lights out. These snoozy bedtime activities will help set the stage for sweet dreams. 

How To Dream Feed

If you want to try dream feeding, go through the bedtime routine as usual and put your tiny tot down for bed. 

A few hours later, right before you hit the hay yourself, gently get your sleepy baby out of their crib before putting them at your breast or giving them a bottle — all without waking them up. This means no turning on the lights, no singing, and no diaper change unless, of course, they need one.  

When the dream feed is done, gently place your infant back in bed and quietly leave the room. 

Wrapping It Up

If your newest family member is preventing you from catching those oh-so-precious zzzs due to a rumbly in their tumbly, you may want to consider dream feeding. 

Just keep in mind that this popular technique doesn’t work for every baby, but if yours happens to be a middle-of-the-night snacker, dream feeding could help not just your little one get better quality shut-eye, but you too!

Here at Little Yawn Collective, we’re here to empower parents and build confidence to establish bedtime routines that work. Whether you’ve got a new small bundle on your hands or a tiny “big kid,” you can always count on us to bring on the sleepies.   


Sources:

What Is Dream Feeding and How It Helps Your Baby Sleep? | Sleep Advisor

Infant and toddler health | Mayo Clinic

Newborn Reflexes

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