The dreamfeed gave me extra hours of sleep every night!
What is a dreamfeed?
It’s the late evening feed that happens after bedtime, usually between 10 and 11pm.
Here is how it works and gives Mama extra sleep: Say baby is going to bed around 8pm, but is not quite ready to do a solid 10-12 hours of nighttime sleep without a feed. In the middle of the night – 1 or 2 am, most likely – baby is going to wake hungry.
The idea behind the dreamfeed is that you feed baby before bedtime at 8pm, then between 10 – 11 pm, you pluck a sleeping baby from his crib and give him a full feed before putting him right back to bed. Then, instead of needing to eat in the middle of the night, baby instead goes until (hopefully) morning wake time or at least until the 5am hour or so. Mama gets much more uninterrupted sleep this way.
Instead of sleeping in 3-4 hour increments, if Mama goes to bed right after the dreamfeed, she gets 6-7 hours (depending on when baby wakes next) of uninterrupted sleep!
And you know what is even better than that???
When Daddy gives the dreamfeed!
Dave did the dreamfeed for Little Bug. I would make myself go on to bed around 10pm (I am a night owl and love staying up late, so I did have to make myself go on to bed!).Dave doesn’t require nearly the amount of hours of sleep I do, so this worked perfectly for our family.
Around 11 or 11:30pm, Dave would prepare a bottle for Little Bug, turn out the lights, sneak into her bedroom, pluck her from the crib (still swaddled) and place the bottle nipple to her little lips. She would eat and then her daddy would put her right back in the crib. Dave always said she hardly woke up at all. And he thoroughly enjoyed that time with a precious sleeping (but eating!) Little Bug in his arms. (He was sad when we dropped the dreamfeed.)
Then, anywhere around 3 – 5 am, Little Bug would wake and I would give her a feeding – after having gotten 5 to 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep! Heavenly! I can remember feeling like a new woman once we put a dreamfeed in Little Bug’s routine.
Yes, the dreamfeed was my best friend.
While Babywise suggests that most babies are ready to drop the dreamfeed between 9 and 15 weeks of age, we didn’t start the dreamfeed until probably around month 4 or even 5! (Again, oh how I wish I had known about Babywise before Little Bug’s birth.) So, we started the dreamfeed late, but still reaped the benefits.
Little Bug was around 6 months old when she stopped needing the dreamfeed. She just gradually stopped taking a full feeding until one night we decided to take the risk and skip the dreamfeed and see what happened.
That night was so eventful, I can’t remember what happened at all!
So I suppose, Little Bug did fine that night and we knew she was definitely ready to drop the dreamfeed.
Another thing that I think was key to the success of the dreamfeed was the environment surrounding the dreamfeed.
Dave would bring Little Bug to the rocking chair in the living room. No lights, no TV, no stimulation. Probably the reason why Little Bug continued to be very drowsy/asleep during the dreamfeed. He wouldn’t even unswaddle her. It was simply a quick feed, nothing more.
The dreamfeed doesn’t work for all babies, sadly enough. According to the Babywise Mom, some babies still wake up throughout the night or the dreamfeed interrupts their sleep to the point that it’s hard for them to go back to sleep afterwards. My suggestion to anyone trying to get more hours of uninterrupted nighttime sleep would be to at least give it a try! It may work or it may not.
I would imagine a dreamfeed might be a little harder to accomplish if baby nurses exclusively and doesn’t or won’t take a bottle. Mama kinda sorta has to do that dreamfeed! I would think it would still be worth it, although I’ve never breastfed a baby!
So, there is my experience with the dreamfeed.