What Is Dream Feeding? And How Do I Do It?
If your baby wakes up hungry each night, besides boosting daytime milk, it makes sense to boost evening calories by dream feeding your baby. Think of it like topping off the gas tank of your car by filling it to the brim.
What is dream feeding? It's when you wake your baby to feed one more time before you turn in for the night. Research shows that sneaking in one more feed between 10 p.m. and midnight reduces night wakings among 3-month-olds...and it works great for older infants too!
How to Dream Feed
To do this, wake your wee one at around 11 p.m. and encourage her to nurse (5-10 minutes on one side and the rest on the other side). Make sure when you put her down again that you do the quick "wake and sleep" trick.
If she has a hard time waking for the dream feed, change her diaper, tickle her toes or cool her head with a wet washcloth to rouse her enough to eat.
She'll eat less during the night and therefore be hungrier in the morning, which will boost her daytime eating.
Should I Wake My Baby to Feed Again?
If your baby continues to wake at 3:30 a.m. in spite of the dream feed and strong, rumbly white noise, consider setting your alarm to give one more dream feed at 3 a.m. The idea is to wake her before she wakes you so you're giving her the nourishment she needs, but not rewarding her for waking and crying.
If you have to do this early-morning dream feed, make sure you give a little less milk. If you're nursing, just feed on one side. If you're bottle-feeding, add double the amount of water the formula directions suggest (just for one feeding) for a few days. Don't talk or cuddle too much. You want to be loving, but not to make her think it's time to play!