Imagine that you know an easy way to send your baby into a longer and more restful sleep. But guess what? You have to wake him up to do it. Welcome to the world of the dream feed. The dream feed concept is not my own, but it is one of the most useful strategies a parent of a 2-10 month old can have. Both Dr. Harvey Karp ( of Happiest Baby on the Block fame) and the Baby Whisperer write about using the dream feed. This can be used for both nursing and bottle-fed infants. The theory is sound, but the understanding is that the parent is intervening to build deeper and more satisfying sleep, not just hoping it will happen.
The dream feed challenges parents to do the one thing they might not ever want to do: wake a sleeping baby. But if you think about the pattern of infant sleep and what makes babies sleep longer and deeper, you will completely lose your fear of waking your baby. The key is to time your dream feed somewhere from 10PM-midnight to avoid the creation of a habit of crying triggering more night feeding, and subsequently reversing night and day. For mothers who are nursing, that first let-down milk is rich and full of nutrition. You may switch your baby to the other breast before he is completely full in order to get a double dose of that early and belly-filling milk. What a lovely idea; an almost-midnight snack filled with nutrition to send your baby to sleep !
To review: dream feeds give your baby….
- extra calories to sleep deeper and not wake from hunger
- parents who are well-rested and alert during the day
- a sense of night and day, with longer periods of sleep at night
- hunger in the morning, setting her up to associate daytime with mealtime.
a last bit of advice: this is not playtime, so be loving but not very talkative or playful. You are sending the message that this is mealtime, not a social hour. If your baby is fully awake and wants to play, use white noise and low light to send her attention back down to a drowsy feeding.
Need more information? Take a look at Teaching Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night and Baby Waking Up Early? Reset that Habitual Pattern Tonight.
Want more support for your newborn? Visit my website tranquilbabies.com. and purchase a phone/video session. Ask specific questions, receive recommendations on books and newborn equipment like swaddle garments/swaddle blankets, and more!