A dream feed is when your baby is old enough to sleep through the night, but still needs a bit of food to make it through those early morning hours. So you either breast feed or give a bottle while the baby sleeps!
We sleep trained Atticus at four months, he’s old enough and weighs over 15 lbs and mom and dad are ready for a full nights sleep. Making it 12 hours without any food might be pushing it, and I’m not a fan of 3, 4, or 5 AM hunger wakings. In order to avoid this and give my guy the nutrition he needs, I sneak into his room just before I go to bed (around 10:30 or 11 PM), keep the lights off, or maybe have a hall light on with the door cracked. I gently pick him up from his crib, place him on my lap, and breastfeed him. He never wakes up and just latches right on for a full feed. Sometimes my husband will want to dream feed so he gives Atticus a bottle. If he’s in deep sleep, I might kiss his head and whisper, “I love you, sweet baby.” I never talk or stimulate him, I keep it dark and quiet so he will stay sleeping.
This time is magical. The house is quiet and dark, there’s no need to try to make my little guy laugh or entertain him. It’s just him sleeping and eating and me holding this yummy, snuggly baby in my arms, listening to his breathing and his little tiny gulps. When my eyes adjust to the darkness, I see his little face and take in every tiny detail, the way his nostrils flair, his hair coming in thicker and thicker, those ears so tiny and edible and his cheeks, chubby and kissable.
The days are busy and can be crazy and distracted with two other kids and carpool and play dates and laundry and work, that sometimes I miss the special moments. But late at night during the calm, Atticus and I have our own special, quiet moment where I get to take in every ounce of his preciousness.
He might be getting to the point where he doesn’t need the dream feed, but I don’t have to give it up. I dream fed my two older kids until they were over nine months. I find it so lovely and special and my way of hanging on to every last bit of infancy.
At some point, I will have to stop the dream feed. Sad Face. I don’t want to just go cold turkey for fear of middle of the night wakings, so I will wean him. If you are breastfeeing, time the feeds and reduce your feedings by two minutes each night until you are only feeding for two minutes. At that point, there’s no need to dream feed anymore. For bottle feedings, which is my preferred method of weaning, reduce the amount of milk by an ounce each night until you have reached two ounces. Then stop the dream feeds. If wakings occur, just use your preferred sleep training method.
Make sure you talk to your pediatrician for help on sleep training, dream feeding and nutritional needs for your baby. The doctor is there to help and will answer all your questions and give just the right info for your specific baby’s needs.