Waking a perfectly slumbering babe for a late night meal seems crazy—but plenty mums swear by the power of the dream feed. Sleep expert Jo Tantum explains what it is, and how it works.
“A dream feed is a calm, quiet feed around 10.30/11pm,” explains Jo. “It is called the dream feed as your baby is usually fast asleep and will probably take the feed with her eyes closed.”
So if baby is still sleeping, why risk waking him?
Seasoned mummies will tell you that you only ever really luck out with one long sleep from your bubs per 24 hours. And he tends to do this during the first part of his night sleep: the problem is that you’re probably still up at this point, and only bedding down just as he’s rousing for a feed. The point of a dream feed is to restart your little one’s sleep cycle, so that his deepest shuteye coincides with your bedtime. “You are gently waking your baby from his deep sleep, changing his nappy and feeding him, so this way he won’t be hungry for hours. Then he will reset his clock and have a long deep sleep after 11pm,” says Jo.
But bear in mind that one size doesn’t fit all with the dream feed; some babies will still wake up in the early hours of the morning.
If the sleep trick does work for you, a good idea is to let Dad try it out with a bottle feed, which means he gets to bond, and you get to rest. It is advised, however, to let breastfeeding become established first (usually at around six weeks) until introducing a bottle.
“The easiest way is to feed at 10.30pm for one week- ¾ of the usual feed. Then 10pm for 1 week – ½ the usual feed. Do not change his nappy before the feed. Just lift and feed,” suggests Jo. “There is no need to wind until the end, as your baby is so relaxed she won’t take much air in if any.”