How To Dream Feed: A Complete Guide for New Parents

Author Image By Paula McLaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH •  Updated: 06/13/23 •  Sleep / Sleep Tips

Are you a sleep-deprived parent in search of a solution to help your baby sleep through the night?

You may have heard about the concept of a ‘dream feed’ from a friend or read about it in sleep training articles, but still have questions about how it works and if it’s right for your little one.

Well, you’re in the right place! Join us as we explore the ins and outs of dream feeding and how it can help you and your baby get more restful sleep.

What Is A Dream Feed?

Why Is Dream Feeding Important?

Parents often dream feed in order to get a longer stretch of sleep before their baby wakes for the next feed. This can help both baby and parent feel refreshed and rested the following day.

During the first year of life, infants spend most of their time in the sleeping state. And adequate sleep improves overall functioning, and future cognitive, psychomotor, and temperament development in children…

So the more rested they are, the better.

What Time Should You Dream Feed Baby At?

Most dream feeds occur around 10pm.

As I mentioned above, this feed is taken just before you go to bed to ensure baby gets 4-5 hours of sleep before their next feed.

If you are going to feed your baby in this way, your evening and nighttime feeding schedule can look something like this:

Dream Feed Evening Routine
Time Of DayRoutine
6.30pmBedtime feed
7pmSettle baby to bed in their nighttime sleep space
10pmGently wake baby for dream feeding
10.30pmYour bedtime!
3amBaby wakes for a feed
3.30amBoth baby and you go back to sleep for a period of sleep
7.30amBaby wakes to be fed

At What Age Can You Dream Feed Baby?

You can begin to dream feed when baby is 3 months old.

Feeding at 10-11pm can be of huge benefit to maximise night sleep for both you and your baby and some parents use this trick until baby is 9 months of age.

Signs That Your Baby Can Begin To Dream Feed

Here are 4 signs that your baby (3 months+) is able to begin to feed in this way if you wish to do so:

Looking to get your little one to sleep quickly and effortlessly? Check out my Bedtime and Nap Cheat Sheet and master the art of making daytime naps and bedtimes as seamless as possible.

How Do You Wake Your Baby For A Dream Feed?

Sleep is so precious in the early months that it can be quite daunting to wake your baby when they are sleeping peacefully…

However, getting dream feeding right can gain you an extra precious hour of sleep when you need it most.

So, how do you wake your baby successfully for a feed if they are reluctant wakers?

Well firstly identify if your baby is in an active sleep period, known as REM sleep. They will be twitching, their eyelids may flutter and they may move their arms and legs around. You can then:

How Much Do You Feed Baby During A Dream Feed?

You don’t need to worry about how much your baby takes during a late night feed. Think of it as a late-night snack rather than a full feed.

However, every baby is different so some may even take a full feed at this point.

My advice… Let your baby take the lead.

Any milk that you can get them to take at this point will go towards helping them to sleep for longer during the night.

Positives Of Dream Feeding With Your Baby

It is important to remember that you may need to try this style of feeding a few times before you get the hang of it, but when you do, there are amazing positives to introducing it:

Considerations Of Dream Feeding With Your Baby

Of course, dream feeding will not be for everyone and not all babies or parents will take to ‘messing around’ with their feeding schedule.

Some cons of dream feeding can be:

When And How To Drop The Dream Feed

You can consider dropping the feed once your baby is regularly sleeping through the night from the dream feed right through till their morning feed at around 6.30-7am.

Bottle-fed babies often continue night feedings until they’re around 6 months old, whereas breastfed babies may continue up to a year, so bear this in mind too.

When you are ready to wean baby off, you should:

Whatever you decide, your baby should be ready to drop this feed once they are having 3 regular meals a day.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dream Feeding

Looking for more information about dream feeds? Here are the answers to the most common questions.

Is Dream Feeding Safe?

Yes, dream feeding is perfectly safe as long as it is given while you are holding your baby correctly and they are sufficiently awake to suck enthusiastically.

Can You Dream Feed When Baby Is Bottle-Fed?

The good news is that bottle-fed babies can absolutely be dream fed!

In fact, for mothers who are bottle feeding (either by expressing milk or feeding with formula), getting your partner to do the dream feed will give you a little break to have an early night whilst your partner experiences the wonderful bonding moment of feeding baby.

Which is a win-win for everyone.

Will Dream Feeding Affect Milk Supply?

No, dream feeding should not affect your breast milk supply. As long as you breastfeed or pump regularly over 24-hours, feeding in this way can help you maintain your milk supply.

Do You Burp Baby After A Dream Feed?

Yes, you should burp your baby after dream feeding just as you would after any other night feed.

Of course, you will know your baby and what they can manage with regard to nighttime burping.

Some babies will burp after every feed…

Some babies need a bit of persuasion…

And some little ones won’t burp at all!

When To Consult A Doctor About Dream Feeds

It is important that your baby has established a healthy weight gain before you introduce a dream feed.

Until this point, your baby will need regular feeds and should not be sleeping for longer than 4 hours between feeds.

Generally, you do not need to consult a doctor before you try dream feeding. However, if you need that little extra assurance then by all means get some medical advice or chat to a sleep consultant before you decide to try this style of feeding.

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Author Image Bio
Paula McLaren is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and a highly qualified childcare expert with over 40 years of experience as a Norland Nanny. She holds a BA (Hons) in Early Years Development & Learning (0-6 Years) and the prestigious Norland Diploma. Paula has worked as a night nanny, run a successful daycare center in London, and helped raise countless children using her tried and tested developmental and guidance methods.

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