Dream feeding a baby is not new. Mothers and caregivers have been practicing the act of dream feeding for as long as humans existed.
Although many do not know the technique to be ‘Dream Feeding’; but once explained, it is greeted with nods of agreement and smiles.
Two things that are top of the list of importance in a baby’s life are sleep and food. Dream feeding is a combination of both – that should give you an idea of how important it is to both mother and child.
What does Dream Feeding a baby really mean, and what are the technicalities – if any, around it? This article provides the most accurate answers to all your questions on Dream Feeding a Baby. Let us get started.
What is Dream Feeding?
As the name implies, in essence, the term Dream Feeding is used to describe the act of feeding an infant in their sleep.
While this may sound orthodox and dangerous – it isn’t, and the purpose of feeding a sleeping baby is to make the little one sleep longer.
As you may already know, one of the major reasons why babies wake up in their sleep is as a result of hunger. Dream Feeding helps the baby to have more food in their system to enable them to sleep all through the night without having to wake up due to hunger.
How to Dream Feed – How do I Dream Feed a Sleeping Baby?
Although Dream Feeding is generally considered to be safe practice, it can lead to dangerous consequences if not done right.
To Dream Feed a sleeping baby, the mother or caregiver must take the following precautions:
1. Take the Baby Out of the Crib: Resist the temptation of Dream Feeding the baby in the crib. It is understandable that you want to try and feed the baby without having to wake them up, but this is not a good practice, and it leads us to our second point on the list.
2. Wake the Sleeping Baby: Surprised, right? Why is it called Dream Feeding if you have to wake the baby up? Well, you do not need to wake the baby up fully.
All you have to do is wake the baby enough to feed him in a semi-upright position.
3. The Positioning is Important: As we mentioned earlier, the best position to Dream Feed your baby is in a semi-upright position – not on their back. This should be taken into consideration, especially when you are feeding the baby with a bottle.
The best position to Dream Feed (or generally feed) your baby is the head carefully cradled in the crook of your arm.
Do you Burp a Baby after a Dream Feed?
When it comes to questions like this, I like to give a direct answer. The answer is yes!
Burping a baby means sitting the baby up against your chest or laying them face down against your laps while you rub their backs until they belch.
You should make it a routine always to burp your baby after a Dream Feed—or any feeding at all—before you return the baby on their back.
Many mothers and caregivers burp their babies after a regular feed; but do not see the need to do so after Dream Feeding the baby. This is very dangerous and could lead to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
I cannot emphasize this enough – always burb your baby after a meal.
What Age Can You Dream Feed a Baby?
According to experts, the best time to Dream Feed a baby is between 3-9 months.
Newborns have little stomachs – you already know! So, they can only hold little food per time, hence the need to feed them multiple times – even while they are asleep.
After a baby has passed nine months, their stomachs will be able to hold enough food that will take them for long stretches and over the night.
Again, we must note that babies are different, so you should not wait until nine months and continue to Dream Feed your baby even when you notice that they can complete a night in a full stretch without waking up.
Test them from time to time by not Dream Feeding them to see if they can hold on without waking up at night.
How to Get Your Baby Back to Sleep After Dream Feeding?
Yes, on many occasions, your baby will be fully awake during the process of Dream Feeding them. Since your aim is to make the baby sleep for longer – not wake them up, you have to be able to get them back to sleep.
One of the easiest ways to put a baby to sleep after Dream Feeding the baby is to swaddle them.
Our article on ‘How to Swaddle a Baby’ will tell you all you need to know about swaddling and the best way to swaddle your baby.
Also, you could play a lullaby and consider any of the techniques we outlined in our article on ‘How to Put an Overtired Baby to Sleep.’
Most importantly, you should begin to train your baby and take conscious steps to make them fall asleep on their own.
Benefits of Dream Feeding to a Baby – Why it Great for your Infant
There are numerous benefits of Dream Feeding and they include, but are not limited to:
1. Better Feeding Habit: Newborn babies need a good feeding habit and the extra calories to develop, function, and sleep better.
2. Perfect Time to Feed the Baby: Nighttime – or sleeping time is the most important time of a baby’s life when it comes to development. So, feeding them at that time gives them the much-needed support and energy needed to develop their mind, system, and body.
3. Feeding as a Measure of Precaution: To Dream Feed a baby means you are not waiting for the baby to cry out for food before you feed them. This makes the measure more of a precaution than a curative measure – which is best for your baby.
4. Encourage Good Feeding Habit: Dream feeding has been proven to boost daytime feeding in babies, and this improves their overall feeding habit, which will enhance the baby’s development.
Should I Wake My Baby For a Second Dream Feed?
If you notice that your baby usually wakes up about 03:00 am or early in the morning despite the Dream Feeding you administered, then there is a need for a second Dream Feed.
So, what you are doing in essence is feeding your baby before the baby wakes up – and wakes you up for another round of feeding.
However, mothers and caregivers must note that the second round of Dream Feeding should not be anywhere as strong as the first round.
This time, the meal should be made with less milk and a double amount of water than the first – if you are feeding from a bottle. Or the mother Dream Feed the baby from one breast to enable easy digestion.
Also, it is essential for mothers and caregivers to engage in a second Dream Feed once every three days as against daily.
When Should I Stop Dream Feeding?
You cannot spend the same amount of time Dream Feeding your baby as the time you spend feeding them during the day.
As you would recall, the Dream Feed aims to make them sleep for longer – and give you the much-deserved rest all through the night.
On average, 5 to 10 minutes is enough time to Dream Feed a baby, and a medium bottle should do the magic – if you are feeding the baby from a bottle.
Apart from the case of Dream Feeding, always take the peculiarity of your baby to note when considering things that have to do with duration. Is your baby a heavy or light feeder naturally?
This should help you in determining how much food you should give them during a Dream Feed.
At What Age Should I Stop Dream Feeding?
When it comes to duration as regards sleeping, feeding – and Dream Feeding in babies, there is no one cap fits all. This is majorly because all babies are not the same and basically do not function in the same way.
You should stop Dream feeding your baby when you notice that they are able to go through consecutive nights without waking up.
Begin by stopping the second Dream Feeding, and then once in a while, stop the Dream feeding altogether.
When you notice that the bay can carry on their own all through the night – without calling out for food, then you know that your baby is old enough to ditch Dream Feeding for good.
Bravo! Your baby is becoming a young adult – (SMILES)!
Final Words on Dream Feeding a Baby
I believe you are now more informed about Dream Feeding and all the other questions accompanying the technique.
As is always my advice, do what you feel is best for your baby.
Trust your instincts, but always make it a point of duty to consult your doctor or primary health care provider anytime a symptom persists, or you need help with a concern.
Remember, mothers (or caregivers) and babies sleep better after a good Dream Feed.