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what is dream feeding and is it right for you and baby

What is Dream Feeding? 7 Helpful Things To Consider Before You Start

Are you looking for ways to help your baby sleep longer through the night, in return, you get more sleep through the night?

In this post, we will provide you with more information on dream feeding, also called dream feed, to determine if it should be an option for you and your baby.

We will uncover:

  • The Definition
  • How to Dream Feed
  • Results from a Dream Feeding study
  • Thing to Consider before starting
  • Final Thoughts
what is dream feeding? Will this help me and baby sleep longer?

Let’s Define What Is Dream Feeding (Dream Feed)?

What is Dream Feeding? Dream Feeding is a young infant feeding while he or she sleeps. This concept and/or phrase was started by Tracey Hogg, a British nurse and Author.

The affectionally known “baby whisper” said, “to accomplish this, you gently hold your sleeping baby in a feeding position, and try to stimulate the rooting reflex by stroking your baby’s mouth and offering your baby a breast or bottle while baby is asleep.” 

However, over the years, Dr. Harvey Karp , pediatrician and child development experts, explains this practice is performed when a baby is slightly awaken and fed before you sleep. For more information as it relates to Dr. Harp’s definition and practices, review his article, What Is Dream Feeding, and How to do it.

So How Does This Help Baby/You Sleep Longer?

This has been said to be a solution for many newborns and parents, because it essentially helps baby to sleep longer through the night. Its said, that one of the reasons a baby cries, often is due to hunger. Therefore, in theory, if your baby is well feed before your final resting hours, this can push your sleep additional hours through the night.

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Is It True? What Did Studies Show?

In an evidence based study, reported by Gwen Dewar, Ph.D, released in 2018 by parenting science, revealed this sleep practice, was taught in educational classes. It should be noted that dream feeding alone, was not the solo practice taught amongst classes for getting babies to sleep longer. Rather, there was a total of approximately 20 recommendation recommended to implement with dream feeding, for better results. Some common recommendations included: swaddling, white noises, pacifiers, etc. Collectively, these practices showed great results, 100% effective, for newborns and parents up to 8 weeks postpartum.

The successful results of dream sleeping decreased to 23% effective, when focusing in a more controlled study, with only 3 practice components:

1- Administer a big feed to newborns sometime between 10pm and midnight. 

2- Gradually lengthen intervals between night feedings by first “carrying out alternative caretaking behaviors” like re-swaddling, diapering, and walking.

3- Maximize environmental differences between day and nighttime” by minimizing infant exposure to social stimulation and artificial light at night.

If you’re looking for more information and want to review the dream feed pros and cons based on this study conducted, please review the link to this article provided above.

Things To Consider When Determining Dream Feeding Pros and Cons?

Now that we’ve defined what is dream feeding and established more factual information from study results, there’s things you may need to consider asking yourself, before you determine if Dream Feeding is right for you and your baby.

Consider the following:

How old is your baby?
Consider your babies age. If you start immediately, you may not get a feel for your baby ‘s natural feedings and sleeping rhythm, to determine if it need improving.

How much is your baby eating?
If your baby isn’t eating much, currently sleeping through many feedings, isn’t weighing in at their doctor’s recommended weight, etc. then this may not be the best option for you. First, create a feeding schedule that best works arounds your baby’s needs, addressing current feeding issues.

What’s your expectations?
How much longer are you wanting your baby to sleep? It’s common for newborns to sleep in 2-4 hours intervals around the clock, so even when following the the best recommendations, you may not be able to extend your babies sleep much longer. When parenting a newborn, don’t expect much sleep initially, but know that you will eventually get to sleep longer as time progress.

Do you have a bedtime routine?
Consider establishing a bedtime routine first. That way you can add/remove things you see working/not working, including dream feeding.

Are you consistent?
One of the most important questions to consider is WILL YOU BE CONSISTENT, in order to see the full results of this concept?

Are there additional parties involved in the routine?

Are the other participants involved aware of the plan? Are you’ll on the same page? Are additional parties willing to learn, adjust and pay attention to the results? Committed to the process?

Are you ok with any adverse sleeping patterns this may cause in the future?
Finally, sometimes, the routines you establish may have a long lasting effect with things you’ve implemented at the beginning stages of life. Therefore, are you ok if down the road, your baby is waking up wanting to eat in order to sleep?

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Final Thoughts About Dream Feeding?

When parenting, regardless of the topic at hand, the answer will come from trial and error!

It’s very cliché but remember every baby is different and the best answers will come from being flexible and adjusting to the circumstances at hand. If you have established practices from a previous child, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, you may need to tweak what you know and research updated method that have been introduced, with the willingness to CHEW THE MEAT and SPIT OUT THE BONES.

Is it worth trying?

Some are swearing by it. But before you do, its better to consider the longer term effects, not just the right now!

It’s important to remember, things MAY change and you may need to consider speaking with your trusted pediatrician, to get their honest feedback, if you’re seriously considering dream feeding.

Do you have more questions centered around this topic? Review the FAQ’s from Nested Bean title, Dream Feed: The What, How & Everything Else You Need to Know. They answer questions like: Is dream feeding safe? When to start dream feeding? Dream feeding burping?


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