Wondering about the dreamfeed? Here is all you need to know about having a dreamfeed and when to stop. This post goes along well if you are thinking about sleep training.
Oh these little squishy babies…
I remember the first time I heard about a dreamfeed with my firstborn.
What is it?
Why do you do it?
Why all these names for things?
Why? Why? Why?
I read around and then tried to implement the dreamfeed with my baby girl. It took a while, but eventually we got the hang of it and Oh My Goodness… game changer.
If you don’t currently do a dream feed then this post will help you for a few reasons.
What Is A Dreamfeed?
A dreamfeed is a feeding you do in the late evening hours before you go to bed. You’ll usually have to rouse baby for this feed.
I’ll get into the details… keep reading.
Why A Dreamfeed?
First, let’s tackle why we want to do a dreamfeed in the first place. Here are the two main reasons dreamfeeds are a good idea. Necessary? Of course not! Helpful? Absolutely!
- You get a longer stretch of sleep each night | By feeding baby in the later evening, before midnight, you’ll hopefully get yourself a longer stretch of sleep. Sleep is very important to moms for sanity (lack of sleep is literally like torture), healing, and to help you get back to your normal self in the postpartum fog.
- Baby will eventually do the dreamfeed then sleep until your desired wake time | It’s hard for a baby to sleep from 7 pm to 7 am. When baby is old enough, adding in a dreamfeed can get baby to sleep from the dreamfeed until your desired wake time.
Dreamfeeds: The Why, The How, & When To Stop
So let’s dive into it. By the end of this post I hope you’ll have all you need to know about the dreamfeed and why its so useful.
When To Dreamfeed
Ideally, you want to dreamfeed right before you go to sleep, but usually no later than 11:30. Somewhat, the time you feed depends on what time you go to bed. You want to feed baby right before you go down to sleep. So if you go to bed around 10:00 then feed baby at that time, then lie down to sleep.
If you feed baby while keeping him swaddled and not fully rousing him, then baby will sort of feed in his sleep and “top up” his tummy. Doing a dream feed between 10:00 and 11:30 is usually a safe bet, but any later than that becomes a night feed.
How To Dreamfeed When Baby Is Drowsy
Those first early hours after you’ve put baby to bed are often baby’s deepest sleep. This means it can be tricky to rouse baby enough to get them to feed. That’s okay. We don’t want to force it when it isn’t working. However, often you’ll be able to rouse baby enough to take a feed, even half a feed, and this can help them sleep longer at night.
For those first few weeks, there’s really no need for this feed.
It comes in most handy when baby is a bit older and you’re trying to make the stretches between night feedings longer. If baby is drowsy, here are some ways to rouse him enough to give him the feed.
- Unswaddle from the bottom to change his diaper.
- Rub a wet wipe or cloth across his cheek.
- Rub the bottom of his feet or cheek.
- Put some milk on his lips.
If these don’t work, then put baby gently back down. If you’re still up half an hour later then you can try again briefly. If it still doesn’t work, go to bed. In a few weeks time it might start to work and that’ll be a sign baby is likely ready to sleep longer stretches.
Does It Always Work?
Now, I’m a big believer in the dreamfeed. I know – having had 5 babies – it’s the reason they routinely slept until at least 7 a.m., if not on closer to 8, even as tiny babies. They were given milk at the dreamfeed which enabled them to sleep later in the morning.
Then – when they were ready – I dropped the dreamfeed and they slept all night!
That said, sometimes they can be a bit tricky. If you wake your baby for a dreamfeed at 11:00 pm and baby wakes at 12:30 am for another feed, then baby might be resistant to that.
It might work out better for baby to simply go to bed at night, sleep a long stretch, and then wake up for that 12:30 am feed. This will mean baby sleeps a long restorative stretch.
You can, with time, add in that dreamfeed if you want them to sleep later.
Often babies will start sleeping through the night but waking up at 4:30 or 5:00 am and not want to go back down. This is why the dreamfeed is so helpful. It means they will feed at 10:30 pm or so and then sleep until 6:30 or 7:00 am instead.
Unless you need baby up that early to leave the house, it’s a more pleasant proposition for baby to sleep later.
When To Wean… This is Important !!!
I want to reiterate here that if you only have one feeding per night, it’s very helpful if it’s a dreamfeed. It should – theoretically – be the last feed you drop.
Here’s the reasoning…
By having a dreamfeed you are helping baby sleep longer stretches between night feedings. They may need a 3:00 am feed and a 5:30 am feed then sleep on until 7 or so. You’ll eventually drop that 3 am feed and focus on the 5:30 am one. After a while, you’ll work to drop that 5:30 am feed so they are sleeping later in the morning.
The way they make it until 7 or so in the morning? The dreamfeed!
If you haven’t had a dream feed and baby is under 6 months but not yet sleeping through the night, try adding it in.
See if it helps baby sleep later. I always kept the dreamfeed even though I dropped all the others because that extra time in the morning meant a lot to me.
Need sample routines for babies 6 weeks and older?
By now, you know how to handle the newborn days, but what after? The good news is this: you’ve set your baby up for a foundation of success. Now all you need to do is continue to find routines that work for you and your baby as they grow up and begin getting bigger and bigger. Sob. After having had 5 babies with 5 different personalities, I know a thing or two about finding a good schedule.
This is why I’ve created a book of sample routines and schedules for babies ages 6 weeks up to 5 years. The book includes information on how long to let baby stay awake, how much play time is good for each age, what to do with baby when baby is awake but not quite mobile, and even how to manage toddler and baby joint routines.
Chapters covered in Rhythms, Routines & Schedules include:
Section One: Sample Schedules
- 6 Weeks to 3 Months Old
- 3-6 Months Old
- 7-9 Months Old
- 9-12 Months Old
- 12-18 Months Old
- 2-3 Years Old
- 4-5 Years Old
Section Two: Tips and Tricks
- Tips for Managing the Day With Multiple Children
- Daily Rhythms for an Only Child Ages 1-4 Years Old
- Daily Rhythms for Multiple Small Children Ages 0-5
- Sample Bedtime, Mealtime, and Playtime Routines
- Tips for Keeping Kids Busy Throughout the Day
For more sample routines, mom tested and approved schedules for babies ages 6 weeks and up, check out Rhythms, Routines & Schedules right now.
I’ve created a free email series just for you! If you struggle with creating an easy flowing routine or rhythm in your home… this is it. I’ve gathered all my easiest routine hacks into one free series and, best of all, you can get a big sneak peak into our book that has over 25+ routines for babies ages 6 weeks to 5 years. This series will help you:
- find a routine and rhythm for your child
- learn how to juggle multiple routines (for 2 or 3+ kids)
- know what is and isn’t working so you can make one tweak that’ll change your day
Click here to sign up for my free email series or simply click on the image below.
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