Can Dream Feeding Help My Baby Sleep?

By Misty on in Baby Sleep Help Baby Sleep Training and Schedules with 2 Comments

Can Dream Feeding Help My Baby Sleep?
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If your baby is still waking up in the middle of the night due to hunger, you may be considering adding “Dream Feeding” to your own night time schedule.

What is Dream Feeding?

Dream feeding involves waking your baby up just enough to allow him or her to eat. They are still in a very drowsy state but can usually finish a bottle or breastfeed before falling back to sleep completely. The thought process behind dream feeding is that if you do this right before you go to bed, your baby will feel full longer and will allow you to get a larger amount of sleep before the next feeding.

Does Dream Feeding Work?

Dream feeding can help tremendously when your baby is still in the newborn stage and wakes up often to be fed. Since most newborns will wake every 2-3 hours this can be a great way to get those sleep hours in for a longer period of time.

While it may be a huge relief for you to dream feed before you go to bed, it’s generally not something you want to continue once your baby is out of the newborn stage. There are a few negative impacts to consider when it comes to dream feeding your baby.

  • Waking your baby in the middle of night before he or she was ready to wake, could lead to a very cranky baby. You may get unlucky and your baby will not stay in a drowsy state, but instead wake completely up and be none to happy about being woke.
  • You may create a habit of waking up more often than necessary for your baby. Even if they aren’t hungry they may still wake wanting you to feed them because it’s something they have become accustomed to.
  • While we want baby to stay in a drowsy state, you may have a problem getting your baby to wake enough to actually complete a full feeding. Taking a small feeding because they fall back asleep defeats the purpose of a dream feeding and will most likely lead to another wake up call later on in the night.

I’ve used dream feeding with my own daughter occasionally when she was a newborn, but moved to a regular bedtime routine which helped things immensely and taught her she didn’t need to wake up at night without reason. She would wake one or two times at night for hunger until she was around 5 or 6 months old, but somewhere around 6 months, the middle of the night wakings stopped and she was sleeping through the night.

Had I continued with the dream feedings past the newborn stage, she most likely would have developed a sleep association with dream feeding and would “need” that every night to sleep.

While I do believe dream feeding can be helpful to parents during the newborn stage, it’s not a baby sleep solution I would recommend for any sort of long term solution.

Has dream feeding helped your baby sleep? Please let us know in the comments below!

Grab your free guide: 10 Ways To Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night

Photo credit: David Precious on Flickr

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2 Comments

  1. Bonnie Gean

    November 5, 2013 at 7:26 pm · Reply

    it worked for me because this is exactly what I used to do so the little one would sleep in and allow me to get more sleep, too!

    1. Misty

      November 5, 2013 at 9:32 pm · Reply

      It's a little miracle when they are young! I think I gained several hours of sleep through dream feeding. What age did you stop dream feeding Bonnie?

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