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How to Dream feed your baby

Parents I visit are often totally frustrated by having to feed their baby twice or more a night.

One client, Sarah, mum to ten week old Tom at the time. Was following a four hourly feeding routine during the day, putting Tom to bed each night by 7 pm and waking him each morning at 7 am. However, Sarah explained that she felt exhausted as Tom was waking each night at around midnight and then again at 4 am for a feed. She said it felt like each time she just got to sleep then Tom woke again or she had to wake him to start the day.

Sarah had been told she should nap while Tom had his day sleeps. However, with two other children to look after, this was impossible. So I explained to Sarah that in order to encourage Tom to sleep longer at night, we should introduce a dreamfeed. We put Tom onto my routine and introduced a dreamfeed.

Within days, Sarah was feeling so much better as Tom was now only waking once a night at 3:30 am. To Sarah’s surprise after 12 days of introducing the dreamfeed, Tom was making it through to 7 am without a feed.

The reason I recommend the dreamfeed, is to help parents like Sarah avoid having to get up more than once at night to feed their babies. I normally introduce the dreamfeed when babies are about six weeks old. If you followed my routine but didn’t have the dreamfeed, your baby would go to sleep at 7 pm but wake for feeds at around midnight and 4 am like Tom. With the dreamfeed, your baby will wake for his first feed at around 2.30 am and then she is more likely to sleep until 7 am. This means you have only had to get up once at night. As your baby gets older she will wake later and later for this feed until she is sleeping through every night until 7 am.

When to introduce the dreamfeed

I introduce the ‘dreamfeed’ when a baby is about six weeks. Before six weeks, a baby normally doesn’t take a big enough feed unless you wake her fully. At about six weeks, you could try to dreamfeed her and if she takes a good feed introduce this as a dreamfeed. If she isn’t taking a good feed, wake her fully by unwrapping her and changing her nappy. Only start doing it as a dreamfeed when your baby is happy to take a good feed at this time while asleep.

How to dreamfeed

To do the dreamfeed, gently pick up your sleeping baby, place the bottle or breast on her lower lip and allow her to drink, taking care not to wake her. When finished, sit her upright for a few minutes to allow wind to escape. Babies are usually so relaxed at this feed that they don’t gulp air and so don’t have much wind. Your baby will not choke during the dreamfeed if you are holding her in your normal feeding position. Babies often sleep while feeding at the breast or from a bottle. Do not try and leave your baby in her bed while you do the dreamfeed.

The dreamfeed is a good feed to get your partner to give your baby from a bottle. If you are breastfeeding this would be a good time to give your baby a bottle of expressed milk. The best time to express in the first 8 weeks is just before the 7 am and 10 am to 11 am feeds as this is when your breasts are at their fullest.


Night feeds are feeds your baby should wake up and demand at night. If your baby has regained her birth weight and is over 3 kg, you can wait for your baby to demand these feeds but if your baby is under 3 kg or has not regained her birth weight, you will need to wake her up at night to feed. Some babies are too weak and small to demand a night feed. During night feeds, try not to talk to your baby and keep the lights dim, so your baby starts to understand the difference between night and day.

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