Lets first start with the basics…
What exactly is a dream feed?
A dream feed is when your baby is asleep and you pick the baby up while they are sleeping and feed the baby. You can do this both by bottle and breast.
How can a baby eat while sleeping?
The best way to explain this is that it just happens! When the nipple is placed in babies mouth they will suck.
When should I offer a dream feed?
If you choose to do dream feed, I would recommend that you do it about an hour before your child’s typical wake up for a feed or as close that as possible. Hopefully, this is close to when you would typically go to bed. If not, I would do it just before going to bed.
What is the goal of a dream feed?
The goal of a dream feed is to extend your child’s ability to stay asleep for a longer period of time. Children that are waking due to hunger at an earlier time can benefit from a dream feed.
What is your opinion of a dream feed?
I find that dream feeds are an absolute crap shoot! They can work for some babies and be a fail for others.
Personally, I recommend that dream feeds are used with caution. I find babies that are offered the dream feed for a long time, come to depend on that feed and have a difficult time extending their ability to stay asleep without the feed.
For us, our little man would wake up during the feed so it did not work.
I have had many clients that were doing a dream feed. Most of the time their child started waking up slightly before the feed was offered.
The clients that did have success with the feed used it for a short period of time to help their little ones extend their sleep and then I encouraged more calories during the day to reduce the need for a night feed.
Should you try offering a dream feed?
If your little one is not able to sleep for more than 3 to 4 hours after 4 months of age you could try a dream feed to see if it will help. If your child is sleeping for 5 to 6 hours I would not recommend a dream feed.
I do find that it is best if you wait until your child naturally wakes up. When you wait until your child naturally wakes up you are going by your child’s needs versus what you believe your child needs. Do not underestimate these wonderful little humans!