What is a dream feed?

Heard about dream feeds but not sure what they are? Sleep expert Jo Tantum shows you how to do them and why they can work

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There is much talk about this subject; “What is a dream feed? Why wake your baby when he is fast asleep? I’ve started a dream feed and my baby still wakes in the early hours!” Baby sleep expert and founder of Baby Secrets, Jo Tantum answers your questions 

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What is a dream feed? A dream feed is a calm, quiet feed around 10.30/11pm. It is called the dream feed as your baby is usually fast asleep and will probably take the feed with her eyes closed.

Why wake my baby when he is fast asleep? Yes, it does seem a really silly thing to do doesn’t it! The reason you wake your baby is that he is only capable of sleeping one long sleep in 24 hours.

And it makes sense that he has it when you are having your long sleep between 11pm-7am. You are gently waking your baby from his deep sleep, changing his nappy and feeding him, so this way he won’t be hungry for hours. Then he will reset his clock and have a long deep sleep after 11pm.

I’ve started a dream feed and my baby still wakes in the early hours. Your baby will always have an internal alarm clock set when he is going to get a feed.

So if for 3 weeks he has woken around 2.30am for a feed and he has been fed, he will still wake at that time for a feed out of habit.

If you continue the dream feed and persuade him to wait longer for his next feed, he will stop waking up. This usually takes around 3-5 days.

Breast or bottle at the dream feed? You can offer a bottle of formula or expressed milk from day one. But some Mums prefer to wait 10 days for breastfeeding to be established.

Giving your baby a bottle at this time is a good idea as she will be very sleepy and will fall asleep quickly at the breast. It is also a great time for Dads to bond with their babies.

This means that mums can have an early night and Dads can have some quality time with their bundle!Offer the bottle, holding baby away from the heat of your body.

There is no need to wind until the end, as your baby is so relaxed she won’t take much air in if any.

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Where should we do the dream feed? Settling your baby in their nursery at 7pm and letting them sleep there until the dream feed will help your baby get used to their nursery.

Some babies don’t sleep in their nursery until they are older and make a fuss, as it is unfamiliar. You can put the moses basket in the cot and leave the stand in your room.

Having the feed in the nursery with just the landing light on, so you don’t disturb mum. Then after the feed, swaddle your baby resettle him in the moses basket and settle him in your room for the rest of the night.

If I don’t do a dream feed what will happen? In the early days nothing much, but as your baby gets older 2,4,6 months old he will start waking at 3am and 4am and will have had his long sleep and may want to party in the cot.

Do I always have to do a dream feed? When you baby is around 3 months old (12/13lb) and he has been sleeping from 7pm to the dream feed and then until 7am for a week, then you can start to drop the dream feed.

The easiest way is to feed at 10.30pm for one week- ¾ of the usual feed. Then 10pm for 1 week – ½ the usual feed. Do not change his nappy before the feed. Just lift and feed.

Your baby can usually sleep through from 7pm-7am around 4 months old and 15/16lbs. Then, if your baby is still sleeping until 7am you can drop the feed altogether and let your baby sleep all night! Bliss!

What our mums say

We asked our mums over on Facebook what their experiences of dream feeds were – here’s what they said.

“A quiet, calm quick dream feed at 11pm helped both my babies sleep through till 6/7 am from 2 ish months, prior to that night feeds were needed at 3am or 4am,” Lisa P told us.

“Then at 5 months I’d managed to wean off the 11pm dream feed and they slept through from 7/ 8 till 7 the next morning and thankfully still do.

“But I do think this dream feed for a couple of months helped them sleep through till morning as they both drunk the whole bottle and settled quickly after.”

And Laura M said: “I dream fed my younger 2 and it worked quite well. Not every night though but would def recommend it x.”

Though Kim P had a different experience and says: “Never had to do a “dream” feed, he was always wide awake screaming for milk at that time.”

And Colette W agrees: “Snap – or if I did try he got too excited for boobies he’d guzzle away then throw up.”

What do you think?

Did dream feeds work for you? Tell us in the comments below or over on Facebook

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