What’s a dream feed?
Dream feeding means that you are feeding your baby while they are still asleep. The theory is that when you do this, the baby will stay asleep so that you get a longer stretch of quiet sleep.
We have a video lesson series in the Lovebug app that will break down everything you need to know about night feeds, and will give you step-by-step guidance on how to successfully execute. You can access this video series here with your 7 day free trail of Lovebug Pro!
Dream feeds undoubtedly are a lot easier to do when your baby is little. I’ve found that once your child gets a little older, they will wake up when you dream feed, which means you could be interrupting their natural rhythm.
So, if you are going to dream feed, I want to do it at set times that fit in with your child’s schedule. Follow the recommendation of your pediatrician and make sure your baby is putting on the proper amount of weight. Most pediatricians will recommend 1 or 2 feeds at night.
If you are going to do two feeds at night, you should space them 4 hours between feedings. So if your bedtime is 7 pm, then the first feeding would be at 11 pm, and your second feeding should be around 3 am. Attempt to do a dream feed, and if your baby wakes up, don’t worry about it too much.
If you are going to one feed, you should do that around 4-5 hours after bedtime. So if your bedtime is 7 pm, then your only feeding will be between 11 pm, and 12 am.
I recommend you stick to this feeding schedule. Most babies are not hungry whenever they wake up in the middle of the night. Sometimes, they are just adjusting their body.
How to do the night feed:
Remember that humans absorb information mostly from their environment. Your baby is no different. So, when we are feeding your baby in the middle of the night, we want to communicate to them with our tone of voice, our body language, and the room setting that this is a night feed, and we expect them to go back to sleep right after their hunger is satiated.
The first thing is how do we start the feed. Now, I will ask you to do something that might feel a tad uncomfortable to start, but it should only happen once or twice. When you are night feeding your baby, I want you to feed your baby either at your scheduled time, or within 5 minutes of them being awake.
Let me tell you why.
If your baby is asleep when it’s time to feed them and you are NOT weaning night feeds, then you will wake them to dream feed at their predetermined times. After 2-3 days, their body will adjust to expect to feed at this time so that you won’t be disrupting their night sleep cycles.
If your baby has been awake and is calm or fussing, feed them on schedule.
If your baby has been crying for more than 5 minutes, I want you to wait to feed. The reason is I don’t want them to learn that they have to work hard for you to give them food. We want them to understand that we will answer their needs within 5 minutes. So, if your baby wakes up and is crying within 30 minutes of your scheduled feed, feed them within 5 minutes of them starting to cry.
Every once and a while, you will totally miss that they are awake, and maybe you get all flustered, oh well. There’s always next time. But so you know, the rule of thumb is your baby doesn’t wait to eat when they are hungry. That’s why we suggest you implement a feeding schedule at night, so that you know when they wake they are not hungry. You can view the video lesson on establishing a night feeding schedule here.