Ouch, staying awake till 10pm I remember being a killer in the early months, I recall going to bed at 8pm, setting my alarm for 10pm to then offer Leo the dream feed in the sheer hope and glory that he would sleep longer stretches at night or even till 7am thank you! Does this sound like you?
There are many conflicting opinions out there towards the dream feed and if you are thinking about or currently are offering your baby this feed you may like to know some facts.
Firstly, it does not work for all babies. Some babies yes it does, like a dream! Others not at all. And in fact it can actually contribute to more waking’s in the night and early rising. Some parents say they had a hard time dropping this feed and it actually disturbed their baby’s sleep and they had a hard time to get back into a peaceful slumber afterwards. Then it became a habit feed. Baby started to wake for it right on cue. Every. Single. Night. They could set the diary for their child waking for it!
Some parents describe their baby far to sleepy to feed properly, they were just not interested and therefore what was the point spending night after night trying to make it happen when it clearly just was not going to ever happen?
Why may it not work…?
If your baby is in the REM stage of sleep when you rouse them for this dream feed their muscle tone will be very relaxed. More so than during another sleep stage. This means your baby is more likely to choke and be less able to swallow. You may have even had your baby projectile vomit the feed you reluctantly crawled out of bed to offer…I know Leo did on a few occasions! If you do choose to offer the dream feed it is advisable to wake your baby fully so they have the muscle tone to swallow but of course once baby is fully awake, they may think it is time to party…?
For those who experience more waking’s during the night or even the dreaded 5am early rising, this will be because you have interrupted the night time sleep cycle, the digestion of this “forced” feed is contributing to more work the stomach is having to do and the sensations will be disturbing your baby’s sleep.
If your baby is taking a dream feed and still waking around 1 or 2am am then I would suggest it is “not working” and you are best to let your baby wake naturally for a feed. If they sleep for at least another 5-6 hours then the dream feed is working and you may like to continue with it but please remember a baby who is ready to sleep longer stretches through the night will be developmentally ready, not because they got an extra feed at 10pm!
If you are looking for ways to drop the dream feed, it is best to do around 6 months of age. This is because of the digestion process, contribution to becoming a habit and as I mentioned already the dreaded early rising.
Here is a gradual process to reduce the dream feed…
Say your baby feeds for 10 minutes you would reduce this time by 1 minute every 3 nights.
Once you get to 2 minutes, after 3 nights STOP!
You may need to pop in an in room settling method to help your baby back to a peaceful slumber
Depending on baby’s age and stage of development you will need to feed on demand the rest of the night.
If you are bottle feeding you can reduce the amount of milk every 3 nights and once down to 1 oz, stop!
Don’t reduce the feeds too quickly, your baby will need to adjust gradually by taking more calories in during the day and this will enable the dream feed to be reduced.
You may also like to speak with your health visitor or GP before introducing the dream feed.
Feel free to share this blog with a friend who is wondering about the dream feed for their child.
If you would like to discuss ways to help wean your child of the dream feed at night do get in touch HERE and we can talk over the best ways I can help and support you through this journey!
Your Paediatric Sleep Consultant