My 7 month old loves to hang out some nights probably because it’s just me and him, I guess it does sound fun. Now at 7 months I think it’s time to stop the waking up all together so we can all enjoy a good night sleep. I recently reached out to Julie at Sleepy Head Coach for some pointers and she recommended something I haven’t tried; Dream Feeding and so far it’s working so she is giving us some pointers for all you tired moms!
How and When Do I Offer Baby a Dream Feed?
I love having families test ride a dream feed if they’re questioning whether or not baby is hungry during the night – it can offer that peace of mind ‘guarantee’ that baby isn’t hungry if they were to have a night waking after it.
So What Is It?
It is a feed (whether bottle or nursing) around 3 hours after baby falls asleep at bedtime, so around when you would be going to sleep at night! You take baby out of the crib or bassinet for the feed and after the feed you place baby right back down to sleep – so no playing or awake time after it. You also keep the lights off during the feed to make it less stimulating. And don’t be surprised if baby takes a shorter feed or slightly less ounces than a daytime feed. That’s completely normal for a dream feed! So if baby takes a 6 oz bottle at bedtime, the dream feed bottle may be closer to around 4 oz.
- If baby is super sleepy and not even trying to feed, loosen the swaddle a bit or tickle them to perk them up a bit.
- Still try to burp baby after the feed so you avoid any gas buildup.
- Get your partner to offer a dream feed bottle so you can go to sleep when baby does and get a longer stretch of nighttime sleep!
When Can I Start Offering It?
You can try and offer it around 6 weeks of age but most commonly I see parents try it out when baby is around 12-16 weeks old. I also commonly see it offered for babies who are around 5-9 months old and parents want to help baby wean that feed so they try out the dream feed first. Always check with your pediatrician so you can get the stamp of approval.
So the purpose behind it is to get your baby to stretch longer at nighttime by fitting in extra calories that day – baby feeds at 7pm down by 7:45pm, dream feeds around 10:30pm and hypothetically wakes around 7-7:30am. So it can help to realign the night waking to give you a stretch of sleep that aligns with your nighttime sleep.
When should I wean the dream feed?
It really depends! It’s always smart to play it safe by waiting ~4 weeks after your baby is sleeping well from it but you can always wait until baby’s next pediatrician well visit to run it by their doctor for extra peace of mind. I’ve most commonly seen parents drop it around 6-7 months but some I speak to still offer it around 12 months of age because it’s not impacting baby’s sleep.
How will I know it’s working or not?
So is this the best-kept secret in getting your baby to sleep through the night? Verdict is still out in my opinion because every. baby. is. different. But, I always say it’s worth a try for a few nights!
If after 3-5 nighttime attempts you see no difference in the stretch of sleep after it or your baby just isn’t taking enough in at that time despite your attempts then just move on!
And if you need help navigating a dream feed, night feedings and wakeups, you can always look into our packages and plans at The Sleepyhead Coach to see how we can get your baby’s sleep back on track.
About The Author
Julie Connelly is a certified sleep consultant at The Sleepyhead Coach. She lives in Westchester, NY with her husband and two daughters but grew up in Ridgefield, CT. With the right tools and sleep plan you can wake up in the morning not only feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day but also confident and proud knowing that you’re giving your child the quality sleep they need to thrive and grow. When she’s not helping families with sleep she loves being outdoors, running and doing crossword puzzles!