Sleep deprivation can make you do some crazy things. I remember when my littlest was a baby and I walked around in a fog. There were moments when I actually wasn’t sure if I could go on. One more sleepless night would surely lead to my demise. At that point you start trying any and all sleep tricks to night train your baby. With my first baby, we did a variation of the Ferber method allowing her to learn to self-soothe early on. For whatever reason, that wasn’t something we decided to do again. Then I came across something called the Dream Feed. Hallelujah! This method was a godsend! So now I’m here to fill you in on all my dark secrets as to how I night trained with dream feed.
What is Dream Feed?
Dream feeding is when you feed your baby while they are asleep (or mostly asleep) and set them back down into bed before you head off to bed. The idea is that you’ll be able to get a longer stretch of sleep yourself.
How do you Dream Feed?
Most babies feed anywhere from 3-4 hours apart, so this concept works if you put your baby down to bed somewhere around 7-8pm. You’ll then enter your baby’s room, keeping it still mostly dark, approximately 3 hours later before you would normally go to bed. You pick baby up, feed, burp, and then return to their bed without a peep. If you have any trouble waking baby enough to eat, you can try unswaddling or doing a quick diaper change. Gently stroking their jaw-line should get them to continue sucking as well.
When should you Dream Feed?
Some babies will start to sleep longer stretches starting around 3 months old. If your baby isn’t, this might be a good time to attempt the dream feed. Our littlest was between 3-4 months when we adopted this method. Once you begin solids around 6 months old, you can attempt to decrease the dream feed session by either time limit or ounces until fully weaned off.
For us, the dream feed worked wonderfully. We got longer stretches of sleep and weren’t woken up as soon as we hit the sheets. Another reason it worked well for us is because my husband worked late and would usually miss the normal bedtime. We would then alternate who would do the dream feed each night allowing Dad to get some cuddle time in.
Useful tips to remember:
- Keep the room dark. You can use a small light or hallway light just bright enough to see where you’re going.
- Keep feeding sessions quick and quiet.
- DO NOT make eye contact! This is strictly a business transaction.
- If your little one has reflux, be sure to keep the same feeding rituals, i.e. feeding semi-upright and keeping in upright position post-feeding for 10-15 minutes before returning to the crib.
- Use white noise to block out any usual sounds that may wake baby too much.
Have you tried a dream feed before? Were you successful? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!
Disclaimer: Please consult your pediatrician before trying any method of sleep training. There are various reasons babies may need to be awoken to feed. This method should only be used on healthy, thriving babies who are able to feed sufficiently during the day and need help distinguishing between night and day.