What is «dream feeding» and how to apply it correctly?

With a baby at home, the parents’ rest is seriously affected, especially during the first few months. When the child is newborn, there is no more than adapting to his needs and assuming this reality; however, as it grows, you can implement what is known as dream feeding.

This term comes to refer to one last feed given to the baby before the parents go to bed. They try to wake him up as little as possible and this last meal is offered to him to help him stay asleep for more hours.

In this way, it also seeks to extend the rest period of their caregivers. But does it really work? Is it suitable in all cases? Discover all the information below.

What is “dream feeding”?

The dream feeding It involves nursing the baby before the mother goes to sleep, while the baby is still half asleep.

There is no literal translation for the concept dream feeding, but it could be defined as ‘the last night taking’, or «feeding the baby while he is asleep ».

The end was coined by the British nurse Tracey Hogg, who bet on bringing the breast or the bottle to the baby’s lower lip to stimulate it to suck without waking it up. However, there are other variants of the technique in which the child is slightly awakened so that he can feed himself sufficiently.

In any case, it is about giving the child one last shot just before his parents go to sleep. A) Yes, it is possible to synchronize the baby’s long sleep block with the first hours of rest of their caregivers; which has a positive impact on all of them.

What is it for?

A newborn needs to feed every two to three hours, so nighttime awakenings are frequent and unavoidable. Nevertheless, after two months you can sleep for five or six hours at night.

Wouldn’t it be great for parents to be able to take advantage of this long period to rest, they too, in a row? This is where the dream feeding comes into play and can be beneficial to the whole family.

If the baby has his last feed at seven thirty in the afternoon and goes to bed at eight, it is normal for him to wake up around one thirty in the morning to be fed again. Thus, he interrupts his parents’ sleep.

However, if before the parents go to bed (around 11 at night), they are offered a new feed, they will be able to sleep without problem until five in the morning And he will have allowed his parents to rest those six hours straight.

What are the benefits of dream feeding?

Although you have already been able to intuit the advantages that the dream feedingBelow we list its main benefits so that you can decide if you want to implement it:

  • Baby gets the calories it needs to sleep better, without having to wake up crying demanding to be fed.
  • The last feeding is given at a convenient time for the parents; in this way, it does not interrupt your sleep and allows them to extend their rest for about five or six hours.
  • The child will arrive hungrier for breakfast so, gradually, daytime feeding will be given more importance and the night will be put aside.
  • May promote the development of more mature nighttime sleep patterns in the baby

Considerations when applying it

The dream feeding it may or may not be successful, it depends on the baby.

If you have decided to implement the dream feeding, there are some considerations that you must take into account to do it correctly. Next, we will tell you which are the most important.

When to start and when to finish?

It is not advisable to start implementing this last night feeding before the baby is about six or eight weeks old. of life, because until now they need to eat frequently and regularly, and malnutrition could be generated.

On the other hand, regarding the moment of leaving the dream feeding there is no exact date, but by six months it is usually no longer necessary. At this age, babies are already able to sleep 10-12 hours at a time without needing to feed.

If they continue to wake up at night, they probably do so out of a need for comfort or because they have associated milk with sleeping and cannot fall asleep again without taking it.

In reality, everyone, adults and children, experiences multiple nocturnal micro-awakenings. The problem is that some babies are not able to go back to sleep on their own and demand the breast or bottle to do so. If this is the case, Not only will the last nighttime feed not prevent them from waking up, it can also lead to overeating little beneficial.

How to apply the «dream feeding»?

As far as possible, it is important not to wake the baby too much and feed him while he’s still in his sleep. To achieve this, avoid stimulating it with light, sounds or movements. Keep the lighting dim, try not to talk to him, and gently pick him up. Once the feeding is finished, burp him and put him back in the crib.

What if it doesn’t work?

This technique does not always offer the expected results and is not suitable in all cases. For instance, some children may wake up excessively during feeding and then experience difficulties falling back to sleep due to being too activated. In this case, it would be counterproductive.

On the other hand, babies sometimes wake up not out of hunger, but out of need for adult care and support. A) Yes, some babies may continue to wake up even if this extra feed is offered. If the objective is not being achieved, there is no reason to continue as it would interrupt the infant’s sleep in a useless and unnecessary way.

Additional techniques

Regarding the effectiveness of dream feeding, the scientific evidence is still scarce. However, it has been found that when accompanied by other techniques this is an effective strategy to improve the sleep of the whole family. These additional suggestions go through:

  • Use pacifiers.
  • Use white noise overnight.
  • Use alternative care strategies to feeding (for example, swaddling, diapering, or walking in your arms) when you wake up at night. In this way, the intervals between night shots are lengthened.
  • Maximize the environmental differences between day and night to promote the baby’s nighttime sleep.
  • Implement routines for bedtime.

“Dream feeding”, an alternative available

As you can see, this is not a magic tool and it does not work in all cases. Nevertheless, it can be a ray of hope for those parents who suffer the consequences of insufficient rest after the arrival of your baby.

You can try to put it into practice and analyze the results before deciding whether to continue with it or abandon it. In any case, it can be a very successful strategy to accommodate your baby’s sleep patterns to yours.