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So, you've heard of dream feeding but you're not sure what a dream feed is, or how to do it. Let's run through all the dream feed details that you need to know.
Dream feeding is breastfeeding or bottle feeding a baby during the evening without fully waking them to encourage them to sleep for longer. It's a term that was originally coined by nurse and author Tracy Hogg and is popular among many parents as it means longer stretches of sleep for everyone involved.
Also sometimes known as focal feeding, dream feeding is based on scheduled awakenings when a baby is roused a little before they would naturally wake themselves during the night, breast or bottle fed, and then soothed back to sleep in the normal way.
It's initiated by parents, and can be helpful for babies who need to feed during the night but are waking at unpredictable times every two to three hours to do so. By gently waking them to feed a few hours after they went to sleep and just before you go to bed yourself, they're less likely to need to feed through the night.
Although we all have different schedules, dream feeds are usually recommended in the late-night hours between 10 pm and midnight, around two or three hours after you've put your baby down to sleep.
There's no right or wrong way to dream feed, just what works for you. The most important thing to remember is that any disturbance that could fully wake your little one should be kept to a minimum.
You should quietly pick your baby up to feed them, rocking or swaying can help to keep them snoozy as they feed.
If your little one seems to be in a very deep sleep, you can try rousing them a little by tickling their feet or stroking the corner of their mouth to stimulate their rooting reflex, or wait a few minutes and try again. Within 10 to 20 minutes, your baby may be in a lighter REM sleep stage and able to feed successfully.
It's best to introduce dream feeds when your little one is used to a feeding schedule and can sleep for three to four hours between nighttime feeds. All little ones are different, but this is usually between two and three months of age.
Most little ones can sleep longer stretches without needing to feed at around six months of age. At this time, you can try skipping their dream feed, but don't worry if things don't go to plan. Some babies need a feed during the night up until their first birthday.
Dream feeds can lead to your baby waking up more often during the night or they just don't seem interested in a midnight snack. It might be that this method just isn't right for them, and it may be a good idea to phase out dream feeding.
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