Get to Know the Perfect Steps on How to Dream Feed
Have you ever wondered what other parents do to get some sleep at night while they have a baby to look after? Apart from timing their sleep with the baby, they do a magical thing called dream feed.
If you haven’t heard of dream feed, you would be amazed how it can give you more time to sleep at night while your baby also sleeps for straight hours. It is truly a struggle to catch some rest when you have to wake up at 2 am and feed your baby. No matter how tired you feel, you need to push yourself up when the baby is crying. Otherwise, it will not be good for them.
You will feel the burden when accumulated nights of restless sleep will catch you with sickness and exhaustion. It also takes away the thrill of being a parent and enjoying your time with your child.
Parents do dream feed to eliminate the need to wake up in the middle of the night. But, how to dream feed? Read on to know the right steps on how you can properly dream feed your infant.
Things You Need to Know About Dream Feed
What is Dream Feed?
A dream feed is a time of the night when you feed your baby while he is still asleep. It usually happens between 10 pm to 11 pm or right before you go to sleep. You pick up your child to be fed, and he continues to sleep even if he is already sucking for milk.
Infants have small tummies. Thus, they need to be regularly fed to fill their stomach. It would take 4-6 hours before the baby goes hungry again. That is why infants would wake up at 2 am or 3 am because they already feel their stomach empty.
When you feed your baby earlier than you go to sleep, you get the time interval between his sleep and yours and deduct it to 6 hours. That is the number of hours you may be able to sleep straight.
For instance, if your baby was fed at 8 pm and you sleep at 11 pm. That is a 3-hour interval. Deduct the 3 hours to 6 hours and you will have three straight hours of sleep, more or less. By 2 am, your baby will wake up because he needs his stomach filled up.
Dream feed is a solution for most parents to get the full 6-hour sleep. Sometimes, it can be more than 6 hours, or it can be less. Still, the idea is to maximize the hours you can get to sleep.
Keep in mind that dream feed needs to be done while the baby is sleeping. When he wakes up or when his sleep is disrupted, it is not dream feeding at all.
Dream feed is also appropriate for infants below 16 weeks or 4 months. The earlier you start your dream feed, the better. Once they turn four months, your baby will have longer hours of sleep. Their development calls for a gradual change to adult-like sleeping cycle. It is known as the 4-month sleep regression. They do not need to be dream fed to lengthen their sleep.
Other Benefits of Dream Feed
- It can lengthen the sleep of your baby. It only requires a few seconds or minutes for him to rouse him to feed and he continues with his sleep.
- Daddies can do the dream feed. Unless you strictly stick to breastfeeding, daddies can bottle feed the baby. It can give mommies undisturbed sleep for several hours.
- It gives you more hours of sleep. Do the dream feed right before you go to bed, so after you dream feed, you can doze off until your baby wakes up in the morning.
- It helps your infant get used to a feeding before midnight rather than after midnight.
- It is easy to drop dream feed when it is no longer working for you and your baby. After you tried the process several times and nothing good happens, you can drop it off.
- If your child is always hungry and wakes up for a feed, it is a good solution to use.
Risk of Dream Feed
It is important to know that there are risks to dream feeding especially if not done properly.
- You may be disrupting your infant's natural sleep rhythm. If your baby regularly wakes up when you dream feed, his sleeping hours is broken and it will affect his mood.
- Some babies would stop feeding because they are too sleepy to take milk.
- Once sleep is disturbed the first time, there are chances of waking up again after several hours.
- Some babies wake up after the dream feed. It would be difficult for them to go back to sleep.
Steps to a Perfect Dream Feed
Step one – Prepare the place to dream feed.
Find a position where you want to do the dream feed. You can do it in a rocking chair beside the crib, the side of your bed, leaning against your headboard or anywhere near that you can comfortably rest to feed your baby.
Have pillows ready to support your baby’s head or your arms when feeding. If you need extra pillows for your head, put them on the sides. Also, prepare the towels and blankets if you also need them.
The goal of preparation is to have everything within your reach, so you do not end up moving a lot when you need something and wake up the baby. Also, know how to position comfortable right from the start.
Step two – Get your baby out of the crib.
Gently lift your baby out of the crib and place him in your arms. Make sure not to wake him up when lifting him so he can continue with his sleep. Support his head with your one hand and his lower back with your other hand. Slowly move his entire body towards your chest supported by your forearm.
Step three – Ready to feed
You can breastfeed your baby during dream feed or do a bottle-feeding.
Place your baby near your breast and encourage him to latch. You can put your nipple to his lips or you can stroke his cheek. Once he is latched, hold him tight near your breast so he can continue to suck even when he is asleep.
Position your baby comfortably around your one arm while resting her bottom on your lap. Using your other hand, place the nipple of the bottle near his lips to encourage him to latch. Once he latches, make sure the bottle is position correctly not to overflow the milk out of the bottle or not to run out of milk in the nipple area.
Step four – Put him back gently
Once your baby is done with the feeding, get him straight to his crib so he can continue his sleep. There is no need to burp or let the air out. Experts say that babies are relaxed during a dream feed, so no air came in their bodies.
Wait until he is breathing deeply and his muscles are relaxed before you try to set him down. You may want to observe if he is moving or not to be sure that he is in a deep sleep. Try to lift his hand gently and if he does not stir, he can be transferred back to the crib.
Gently lift him up while cradling him and directly put him back to his crib. Make sure that he is calm when you set him down to prevent him from waking up. If he stirs a little, cradle him gently until he settles before putting him down.
You may want to include the pillow when setting him down. It will help reduce the change of temperature around him even when you are no longer holding him. Adjust the pillow once he is in the crib.
Keep your hands on him even when he is now in the crib. Continue to pat his belly or his feet for a few seconds before moving away. It will help settle him down.
When to Stop the Dream Feed
Dream feed is recommended as a temporary activity for infants and must not be prolonged to become a regular nightly feeding. You must know when the right time to drop the dream feed, so the baby’s sleep and development is not disrupted.
Also, dream feed may not be ideal for all infants. You must identify the signs if your child is fit for a dream feed or not.
Signs to drop the dream feed:
- He is already in his 4 to 6 months. You will also know if your baby is going through a 4-month sleep regression.
- He is starting to eat solid foods. Children gradually introduced to full meals need to minimize their nightly feeding to one.
- When your baby can consistently sleep for longer hours or straight through the night, then you can gradually drop the dream feed.
- It is becoming harder to introduce milk to his mouth during dream feed even when he is likely to feed before.
- He cannot finish the full meal during the dream feed. Even if you try to rouse him to continue feeding, he sleeps right through.
- He has established to 1 to 2 meals a day.
- If your baby does a full dream feed but wakes up in the middle of the night anyway, stop the dream feed. It is not effective for you.
How to drop the dream feed:
- Drop it immediately. You can choose to stop the process the next night after realizing that it is no longer working for you and your baby. However, such process can lead to immediate waking up at night due to the getting used to of dream feed.
- Gradually drop the number of ounces feed your baby. It will help shorten the time he needs to be fed. Alternatively, you may want to cut the number of minutes during dream feeding even if he has not yet finished his milk.
- Add an ounce of milk to his daily feed while decreasing an ounce during dream feed. It will help compensate the reduction at night. However, avoid overfeeding during the day to wean him off dream feeding. Know also the right amount of food to feed your baby.
- Move the time of dream feed earlier. If you do the dream feeding at 11 pm, move it to 10:30 pm on the third day. Then, move it to 10 pm on the fifth day. Gradually move the time until it is in line with his bedtime feed.
Tips on How to Safely Dream Feed
The success of a dream feed also relies on the correct implementation of the process. It is important to take note of these tips to avoid experiencing drawbacks in the future.
- Always take your infant out of the crib during dream feed. Your touch will help support his body so he can safely feed. Also, it adds to his comfort and warmth, which keeps him asleep always. Taking him out will also help you regulate feeding properly and not risk choking him with milk. It will be very comfortable for you also to wrap him in your arms even when doing bottle-feed.
- Feed your baby when he wakes up in the morning. It may be around 6 am to 7 am. Once he lasted through the rest of the night after a dream feed, your baby will wake up in the morning deserving a full load of milk.
- When feeding your child, lift his head in a slight elevation so he will not get choked. Support his head up to his neck with your forearms or the palm of your hand, so it will not be strain his body. Make sure his body is a straight position and not slouched at the back.
- When you want to allow the air to escape from your baby, gently sit him upright without causing him to wake up and hold him still for a few minutes. Support both his upper and lower body with one hand at the back of his head and the other just below his chest.
- If your baby does not start feeding after you introduce the nipple to his lips or stroke his cheeks, you can gently change the position to rouse him a little bit. You may also try to stroke the sole of his foot or the palm of his hand.
- If your baby wakes up during a dream feed or after getting him out of the crib, try to put him back to sleep or put him back to his crib. Do not feed him, so he will not get confused about being fed to sleep.
- Be in a comfortable position. Dream feed may take a long time and sitting in discomfort will cause your body pain. Remember, dream feed is for the benefit of you and your baby so make the most out of it.
- Avoid waking the baby during dream feed. The goal is to keep him asleep and not disturbed so he can lengthen his sleeping time. If the baby wakes up, you can try the next night again.
- Once you missed a time to dream feed, skip that time and feed your baby when he wakes up in the middle of the night. For instance, when you realize it is already 11:30 pm and you haven’t gone through the process, do not implement the dream feed.
- Never give up on the first try. It may take several tries before your baby gives in to the process. Experiment with different positions, time of dream feeding and sleeping environment. Observe when is your baby the most comfortable and when he is in a deep sleep. It will help you identify the perfect way to dream feed every night.
Dream feed may sound like the perfect solution to your baby’s, as well as yours, sleeping cycle at night. But, always remember that not all babies are compatible with the process of dream feed. You must try it at first and observe whether he can adjust to the process or not. Otherwise, you may need to stick to the midnight feeding.
It will take a while for your baby to get used to the process. Some babies will wake up after several tries. You may also find it difficult to implement it without causing a stir.
Be patient. Once your baby has gotten used to dream feed, it will be easier for everyone to do it.
It was a struggle for us especially without knowing that our baby could wake up when we picked her up from her crib. She cried the first time and found it hard to go back to sleep. But, we continued the next night until the third night when she slept her way through the dream feed.
Have you tried to dream feed? Did it work for you? I would love to hear your story!
http://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-training/dream-feed/ https://www.netmums.com/baby/dream-feeds---the-pros-and-cons https://www.babysleeptrainer.com/how-to-dream-feed/