It is a common act for mothers to feed their babies even when their little ones are in the middle of their sleep or before their babies go to sleep. Some mothers choose to dream feed their babies so that their little ones can get through the night peacefully and soundly.
Dream feeding is a process where mothers feed their babies milk while he or she is still asleep. In most cases, dream feeds are done around 10 PM or 11 PM just before the mother themselves actually go to bed to sleep. The idea of dream feeding is that the baby will eventually sleep longer through the night and until the morning with a full stomach. Thus, your babies won’t have episodes of crying in the middle of the night, while you are asleep.
This dream feeding process is done by doing the following steps:
- Put your baby down like how you would normally may it be in your beds or in their cribs.
- When the time comes, around 10 PM or 11 PM, gently get your baby to where you have put them.
- When your baby is already in your arms, without waking them up, gently put your breast or give them a bottle still avoiding waking them up.
- Lastly, nurse them or feed them for around 5-10 minutes, have a little rest, and then feed them again using the other breast.
The great thing about babies is that they have their instincts of sucking especially when they are in front of their mother’s nipples. However, there are cases where babies are too deep in their sleep in which you need to wake them up a little bit so that he or she can eat. You can do this by changing her diaper, tickle her toes slightly, or cool her or his head using a wet washcloth.
After dream feeding, your baby is now ready to continue his or her slightly disrupted sleep. To help your little one get back to dreamland, you can do the 5S which really helps in this process. The 5S are swaddling, side/stomach, shushing, swinging, and sucking.
First is swaddling. Swaddle your baby in case you aren’t swaddling him yet. Start to play some white noise. It is recommended to play this sound all night and gradually increasing the volume as you start putting your baby back down. If you don’t have a white noise in your collection, rhythmic motion can actually make your baby get sleepy. A classic way of putting them back is rocking in the rocking chair with your baby in your arms. Aside from that, a pacifier sucking will help the baby soothe through the night. As you put your little one back in the bed, remember to do the quick “wake and sleep” trick — a method that teaches your baby back to sleep on their own.
Dream feeding is actually great for your little ones. They will get the extra calorie they need to sleep better. Also, the meal is at a convenient time which makes you sleep longer than usual. This action will also teach your kids to that feeding them is not a response when they wake up at night. Lastly, your little one will only eat little food during the night and thus will make them hungrier in the morning and will result to your little one boost her daytime eating.
In some cases, your little one might wake up during dawn; let’s say at 3:30 AM. If your baby does this in spite of you dream feeding him or her and using all those white noise, try considering giving them another dream feed at 3 AM. Your goal is to give them the nutrients they need without them waking up before they do that since you might give them the implication that you are rewarding them for waking up by feeding them. However, if you do this early-morning dream feed, make sure you give a little less milk than the usual food you give your little ones. If you are giving them breastmilk, feed only on one side and if you are giving them bottle-feed milk, add double amount of water the directions of the formula suggests for a few days. However, you must remember that it is not healthy to dilute milk for meals. This action definitely leads to malnutrition. Diluting for just this wee-hour feed is totally different. This action may give you the thought that your baby has filled their stomach but with fewer calories making your little one sleep through the morning and eats again when he or she wakes up.
Always keep in mind that the ultimate goal of dream feeding is to give your little ones the same amount of calories in a 24-hour cycle but the feeding should be done in the waking hours instead of giving them milk during night time. With this, your baby will be able to sleep without too much nursing, and also you will help them distinguish the time when he or she should sleep, and when he or she he must eat.
Now, when your baby is used to dream feeding, you should know when to stop. However, all babies are different and no baby obtains similar health conditions so there is no specific age required for mothers to stop dream feeding their child. One thing is you, as a mother can say goodbye to the dream feeding process a month after your baby has learned to sleep consistently without you dream feeding them on through the morning.
Important note: As promising as dream feeding may sound, this method does not necessarily work for everyone and this could be frustrating, however there is no harm in trying but never force your baby to eat when he or she does not want. It is best to ask an expert what your child may want and need to assure that your baby is getting the right amount of calories and other nutrients he or she needs.