My second daughter Little Miss C is now 3 months, and as she approaches the age where she’s almost ready to sleep through the night, you may probably wonder – is this Sleep Consultant going to dream feed her child?
The straight forward answer is – “No”. I am not a fan of dream feed, and I didn’t do that with my first child as well.
Dream feed is the concept of feeding your child while they’re still asleep just before you go to bed. The logic is so that you fill your child’s tummy with milk before you go to bed, and with the hope that your child will be able to sleep longer into the night.
Here’s why I’m not for it:
- The deepest phase of sleep occurs before midnight, the chances are that your baby may be deeply asleep and may not be rouse enough for a full feed
- You are disrupting your child’s natural sleep/wake rhythm and interfering your child’s circadian rhythm, which is generally counter-productive
- Some babies tend to wake more frequently after being woken up the first time
- Dream feeds can set up a night time feeding habit, which will be difficult to break later on
- It can be difficult to stop dream feeds when your baby is capable of sleeping through the night (as a guide, the majority of babies are capable of having uninterrupted night sleep (10-12hrs) from 3-4 months old)
- Babies may be too sleepy to take enough milk and some may find it difficult to settle once disturbed
- Eating while “dreaming” teaches the child to be unaware while eating. It is important for babies to be aware and alert while they’re eating, so that they’re able to distinguish when they are full, and develop a healthy relationship with food
I believe it’s better to allow your baby’s sleep patterns to develop naturally and have them wake when they’re truly hungry, not because you have taught them to do so. Why would you wake a peacefully sleeping baby anyways?
While dream feeds may be somewhat helpful for newborns (0-12 weeks), it may not be very effective anymore for older babies as they become more aware of their surroundings. You really do not want dream feeds to contribute towards the feeding to sleep association – and risk having your baby wake up multiple times at night just to nurse/ bottle feed back to sleep.
So what will I do? I wouldn’t bother about introducing dream feed, but instead focus on teaching my baby to sleep prop free and let the natural progression of consolidated night sleep happen all on it’s own. 🙂
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