What is a dreamfeed?

What is a dreamfeed?

A dreamfeed means doing your late night feed while your baby is asleep, rather than waking your baby up to feed her.

Why do a dreamfeed?

The benefit of doing this is that you go to bed knowing your baby has a full tummy, and therefore doesn’t need any feeds during the night.

So if she wakes during the night, you settle her using another technique other than feeding. Click here for more information on teaching your baby to self settle during the night.

A dreamfeed can be an excellent way to help a baby:

  • who is waking from hunger at about 5am last until morning.
  • stop needing a feed during the night, eg at 3am.

Why is baby asleep for the dreamfeed?

There are 3 reasons to do this feed while your baby is asleep:

  • Your baby doesn’t know she has had the feed, so she don’t develop an association with feeding and falling asleep (thinking she needs to feed to go to sleep).
  • You don’t interrupt your baby’s sleep, in the way that you do if you wake your baby to do a late feed.
  • There are no issues resettling your baby after the late feed, as they are still asleep!

How to do a dreamfeed:

Just gently get your baby out of bed at around 10pm, feed both sides or give a full bottle.

Don’t worry about burping or a nappy change. Then put her straight back to bed still asleep.

If your baby will not drink, she may be too young for this technique to work (if younger than 12 weeks or so). Another option is to wait until your baby comes into a lighter sleep (watch for some twitching or flickering eyes) and try again.

What do I do if my baby wakes during the feed?

If your baby wakes while you are doing the dreamfeed, we recommend putting her back into bed awake. This means she will not get confused about being fed to sleep.

What age babies does this work for?

We find this works best for babies from 3 months to about 9 months or so. Babies younger than about 10 weeks often are too deeply asleep to drink.

Babies over about 9 months can generally sleep through the night from 7pm until morning without needing a night feed or dreamfeed.

When do I stop the dreamfeed?

Once your baby is consistently sleeping through the night, you can gradually move the feed earlier each night and then stop doing it.

If your baby starts waking in the night or waking earlier, go back to doing the dreamfeed at the time you were doing it when she last slept through.

Doing the dreamfeed causes my baby to wake more/still wake up:

If your baby is settled at bedtime by being fed or rocked to sleep, then doing the dreamfeed is not going to start your baby sleeping through the night. You first need to work on removing your baby's sleep associations and teaching her to self settle.

Often continued night waking once you have started the dreamfeed is the result of sleep associations, lack of routine during the day, an over-tired or cold baby.

If your baby is self settling at bedtime and you feel the dreamfeed is causing more night-waking, we recommend you continue to do it for at least 3 nights. Avoid using feeding to settle your baby during the night (if she if over 6 months or you know she can last through the night without a feed). It may just be a temporary adjustment your baby is making, and in a few nights she will be sleeping through and sleeping longer in the morning.