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Does the ‘dream feed’ help with sleep?

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The quest for a good night’s sleep can be like searching for a unicorn, can’t it? Dream feeding is a popular notion for getting more sleep and is commonly hailed as the secret weapon to ensure both baby and parents get some longer bouts of sleep. In this blog I take a closer look at this nighttime strategy and why it might not be the sleep saviour it’s sometimes made out to be.

Now before we talk about whether dream feeding works to get longer sleep I must first and foremost point out that there are some circumstances whereby feeding at regular intervals necessary. If weight gain is a concern, you would always follow your GP/Health Visitors advice regarding a feeding regime which may or may not include a dream feed. Similarly, if your little one is poorly you would follow any advice from your GP.

What is a Dream Feed?

So, dream feeding is the idea that gently waking your little one for a feed around the time parents/carers go to bed (10-11 pm) and offering a feed and hoping it’ll be the magic ticket to a full night’s sleep. Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? Well, not so fast. Let’s explore why the reality might not match the fantasy.

Does a dream feed equal more sleep?

As parents we yearn for longer stretches of sleep, and dream feeding may seem like a logical way to achieve that however, in reality, waking up a peacefully sleeping baby might actually do the opposite. Disrupting their natural sleep cycles could lead to more wake-ups during the night which is not the night of uninterrupted sleep you were hoping for.

Interruptions to natural sleep for a dream feed can create a reliance on feeding to sleep every time they wake up. By keeping them fully awake during and after a night feed, you are ensuring they have the opportunity to settle themselves back to sleep in their cot without relying on the feed. 

As with anything, if what you are doing works for you and your family then no need to fix or change anything. If, however it is not leading to anymore sleep and possibly resulting in further night wake ups then may I suggest not doing a dream feed and instead wait for them to naturally wake up. Depending on the age of your baby they may still need to wake for a feed but by not rousing them awake for a feed you are giving them the opportunity to work on their independent sleep skills.

A good bedtime routine and following your little ones sleep pressure can help prepare them for a good nights sleep.

We are all or have been in this sleepy journey together! Sweet dreams to you and your little one!

If your little one is struggling to sleep, please get in touch  as I would love to help you get the sleep help that I once had. Book a free, no obligation call and we can talk about working together to get you a better night’s sleep.

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