How to Dream Feed: Better than a Lullaby

Dream feeding isn’t unlimited fine cuisine but a technique for feeding babies. The flipside is this tactic helps infants and sleep-deprived parents get more shuteye. If you aren’t familiar with the term, dream feeding consists of feeding your infant while they are partially awake. Instead of a baby waking you to eat, you are the one initiating the feeding. The best time to do this is an hour or two after your baby has been put to bed and shortly before you turn in. The idea is to fill your tot’s tank before you go to sleep in the hopes they will sleep for a longer duration. By feeding your baby while you’re still awake, it is not only more convenient but could also let parents get more sleep.

Related:  Why Do Babies Smile in their Sleep?

Feeding Guidelines

Happy & healthy babies need proper nutrition. As babies grow, their nutritional needs change, as does the amount of food they need. An easy way to ensure your baby is getting the optimal amount of food is to use a feeding chart. No two babies are the same, which means feeding requirements change from child to child.

Most newborns need to eat every 2-3 hours which breaks down to eight meals a day. During this time, a baby will consume 1-2 ounces per feeding. Around two months, babies will consume 4-5 ounces every four hours. At six months, babies will eat about 8 ounces every 5 hours. A good rule of thumb is for a baby to eat an additional ounce every month until they reach 8 ounces per feeding. At six months old, an infant can begin to eat solid foods.

mother bottle feeding baby


When to Dream Feed

It is critical to get your baby on a consistent feeding schedule. Babies fall into a pattern as they consume more formula or breast milk at once. This happens around 2-4 months and it gives parents the chance to set a convenient schedule. While solid foods can be introduced at four months, but never before, formula and breast milk should be the main source of nutrition for the first year. By taking all of these factors into consideration, dream feeding can be a big help.

There are no set rules when it comes to dream feeding. You can start this as soon as you feel like your baby is ready. Look for signs in infants around two months old like a semi-regular bedtime and night feeding schedule, growing well on formula or breast milk, and your baby going back to sleep easily after waking up.

Related:  Why Do Babies Cry in Their Sleep?

The Hows of Dream Feeding

Since there are no formal rules in dream feeding, parents can taper it to their schedule and lifestyle. Here are the basics. Put your baby to sleep at its usual bedtime. This is an ideal time for feeding. A few hours later, before you go to bed, check if your infant is in a dreamlike state. Signs are your baby stirring but not entirely awake. If you see the tot’s eyes moving under the lids, this is a sign of the REM sleep stage. Even if your baby is totally asleep rather than half awake, it will more than likely be happy to dream feed.


feeding a baby with a bottle

Just place the bottle (or breast) near the baby’s mouth and wait for it to latch on. Don’t force-feed, it will happen naturally. Feed until your baby is done then burp if this is the norm. Let your baby drift back off and get some sleep yourself.

Unsure of when to switch your little one from a crib to a toddler bed? Read up on the milestone here.

Baby Benefits

Parents know that babies eat a lot, especially at night. According to experts, newborns eat roughly every 2-3 hours or 8-12 times in 24 hours. Even at 6 months old, babies need to eat every 4-5 hours. If you are working on sleep training with your baby, dream feeding doesn’t interfere with a nighttime dining schedule, it just modifies it a bit. The biggest upside of dream feeding is it helps infants and parents get on a more in-synch sleep schedule.

Plusses for Parents

Parents, especially, rookie parents, know all about sleep deprivation. Its physical tolls include disrupted hormonal balance, altered metabolism, and decreased functionality of the immune system. There is also an increased risk of anxiety and depression. While dream feeding offers more sleep, it will not decrease milk supply due to skipped feedings.

The Drawbacks

All babies are different, therefore dream feeding will not work for all babies. Or it might not work consistently. One cannot accurately predict what will happen when you try this technique. Some babies can barely wake up, eat their fill, then fall back asleep and sleep longer thanks to a full stomach. Other babies might not want to eat when you try to wake them up or they fully wake up and won’t go back to sleep. Another possibility is your infant will gladly dream feed but is ready to eat again just an hour or two later.

Related:  Baby Personality Types and Temperaments 101

Sample Schedule

Trying to figure out a dream feed schedule? Here are some scenarios based on a baby that wakes up every 4-5 hours. For those not dream feeding, start a baby bedtime routine between 6-7. Put your infant to sleep with a full stomach then go to sleep at 10 PM. Be prepared for another feeding at 11 PM, after you catch an hour-long nap. After you begin this technique, keep the bedtime routine between 6-7 PM. Dream feed your little one around 9:30-10 PM and enjoy 5 hours of sleep as your baby probably won’t need to eat until 3 AM.


spoon-feeding a baby

Confused about your baby sleeping on its stomach? Check out this updated info.

It's Not Guaranteed

While dream feeding sounds like a great decision, it’s not a guaranteed fix. It is not a surefire solution for more sleep as babies are unpredictable. Bottom line, do what works for you and your baby. Do not be hard on yourself if this technique does not work with your infant. Eventually, you will get more sleep, but with most things, it’s going to take time.

What to read next

123 Baby Box sources ideas for their blog content from a variety of channels including feedback from subscribers, trending topics in baby care, and insights from industry experts. They aim to cover topics that are both informative and relevant to the needs and interests of parents and caregivers.

The writing process at 123 Baby Box typically involves several steps. First, they outline key points to cover in the article based on thorough research.

123 Baby Box publishes new content on their blog on a weekly basis. This regular schedule helps keep their audience engaged and informed about the latest in baby care, product recommendations, and parenting tips.

The blog posts for 123 Baby Box are typically written by content writers who specialize in parenting, child development, and health. These writers often have backgrounds in journalism, education, or healthcare, providing them with the expertise necessary to produce reliable and valuable content for parents.

123 Baby Box writers put in a lot of time researching and fact checking each article.

123 Baby Box is a subscription service that provides monthly boxes filled with products tailored for babies and toddlers.

Baby Box Subscription

Monthly subscription box for babies aged 0-3 years - delivering unique, fun products

star star star star star
(5.0 rating)
take baby quiz