(917) 743-4079 sleeponcue@gmail.com

Many parents ask themselves if a dream feed is a good idea for helping baby and themselves get some extra sleep at night. As a mom of two, I never did a dream feed and as a professional sleep consultant, it’s also not something that I normally recommend. Here’s why:

1) A dream feed is when a parent initiates a feed for their baby before going to bed themselves; typically around 10-11pm at night. They remove baby from the crib and bring the breast or bottle to their lips so that they reflexively start sucking/eating even though they are not fully aware they are doing so and their eyes are closed. Once they are done, they put them back in the crib and it’s like the whole thing never happened. While you might think this isn’t disruptive to their sleep, it actually is. NREM sleep occurs in the first half of the night and is the most restorative. It helps recover from being overtired, restores the immune system and transfers memories from short to long term. Even though baby is only partially aroused it does disrupt this deep sleep cycle and so they are getting less restorative sleep.

2) Baby is taking in calories that they don’t necessarily want or need. The parent is initiating a feed and baby is not waking naturally on his/her own to feed. 

3) You might inadvertently reinforce a feeding at this time since it’s happening nightly. So parent is tired and doesn’t want to take a chance that baby wakes up, so they keep feeding at this time when in actuality the baby might not need this feed and sleep through on their own without it. 

If a dream feed is working for you, it’s usually for a short period so there is nothing wrong with continuing to do it. However, if you are looking to wean night feeds my advice is to gradually do it by decreasing ounces at each feeding overnight or to get rid of it cold turkey and implement a sleep training method. A dream feed can wind up actually prolonging feedings at night.

If you have questions or are looking to get rid of night feeds, please reach out at sleeponcue@gmail.com. I’m happy to help!