Want to help your baby sleep longer? Learn 3 ways to dreamfeed your baby and the best tips to make dreamfeeding work for you and your family.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of MomCozy. All content and opinions expressed are my own.
Maybe you’d just gone through your entire bedtime routine only for the baby to cry soon after. Or perhaps she wakes up in the middle of the night, expecting to be fed (never mind that you had just fed her). Your baby could even be sleeping in shorter and shorter cycles at night, waking more frequently.
The hardest part? When nothing other than nursing soothes her back to sleep—even if you know she’s not hungry.
Trust me, I can relate. As a first-time mom, I resented those middle-of-the-night cries that startled me awake (if I even managed to fall back asleep). No matter what I tried to do, my baby seemed set on waking up not long after I had just put him down.
Short of waking up every hour and a half, I knew I needed a solution—fast.
And that’s when I stumbled on… the dreamfeed.
Dreamfeed your baby for longer sleep
I was browsing online, ready to commiserate with fellow moms over sleep-deprivation, when I stumbled on someone mentioning a “dreamfeed.”
The idea of a dreamfeed is to feed your baby before he wakes and cries to be fed. Once I gave it a go, this simple hack not only helped him sleep longer than usual, but also became essential when I later weaned him completely off of night feedings (finally allowing the both of us to sleep through the night).
So, how do you use dreamfeeding to your advantage and help your baby sleep longer? Take a look at these three scenarios to dreamfeed to get the sleep you and your baby need:
1. Dreamfeed before putting your baby down for the night
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The simplest way to start the night with dreamfeeding is to nurse the baby right before she sleeps for the night.
I typically fed my babies after waking up, but the one exception I made was at night. Following our bedtime routine, I’d cap the night off with one last nursing session before putting them down for the night. This made sure they had a full tummy and wouldn’t wake up out of hunger any time soon.
You can do the same. Feed the baby before putting her down for the night, decreasing the chances of her waking up to eat right away.
To avoid relying on feeding to fall asleep (and to encourage your baby to self-soothe), keep your baby awake during the feeding. This way, you can put him down drowsy but slightly awake, allowing him to experience and learn how to fall asleep in the crib.
Tip: Feeding a baby with a cold can be a challenge. Before feeding, clear your baby’s nose with a nasal aspirator to make for easier breathing and nursing. An electric baby nasal aspirator offers fast relief for infants with colds, making for easier breathing and better sleep.
2. Dreamfeed before your bedtime
If you’re like most parents, you likely put the baby to sleep and spend a few hours awake before heading to bed yourself. This makes for a perfect time to dreamfeed the baby.
Let’s say you put the baby down at 7:30pm, but you don’t go to sleep until 10pm. Feed your baby before going to sleep yourself, even if she isn’t crying for milk (in fact, better that she isn’t). Scoop her up for another feeding session, again, ensuring that she can sleep another long stretch.
After all, you’re already awake, which is loads better compared to being jolted upright by her cries and fumbling to feed. Plus, dreamfeeding before your bedtime is especially useful if you notice that your baby tends to wake up anyway shortly after you’re asleep.
Feeding the baby before your own bedtime ensures she has another round of milk in her tummy, stretching her sleep even further.
Tip: Tired of flimsy, makeshift tops that make it harder to nurse the baby? A nursing camisole is perfect for full-coverage and complete support for nursing.
3. Dreamfeed 30 minutes before your baby typically wakes at night
Earlier I mentioned how dreamfeeding became essential to weaning my babies off night feedings. I combined dreamfeeding with sleep training, helping them sleep 11-12 hours straight without waking up once.
The key to weaning is to break the association between crying and feeding.
You see, right now your baby wakes up crying, whether out of hunger or habit, and expects to feed in order to fall back asleep. In order to lessen her dependence on feeding to sleep, you need to beat her to the punch.
How? By waking up 30 minutes before she typically wakes up.
Let’s say she tends to wake up at 1am for a feeding. Set your alarm for 12:30am and wake her up to feed. Yup, just as you did before your bedtime dreamfeed, you’re also going to wake her up to feed, 30 minutes before she usually cries for milk.
You’re breaking the association of her crying in the middle of the night and expecting to be fed.
Tip: Give yourself a break and have another adult feed the baby. With an electric breast pump, you can take shifts with your partner, making sure both of you get as much rest as possible. (Get one on Momcozy or Amazon.)
And what more comfortable way to pump than with a hands-free pumping bra? The Momcozy Hands-Free Nursing and Pumping Bra is comfortable enough to wear all day, and allows you to attach the pumps with one-hand access. (Get it on Momcozy or Amazon.)
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As chaotic as life with a baby can be, sleep-deprived parents still have options to try to get their babies to sleep longer, including dreamfeeding.
The first step is to feed your baby at the end of the day, capping off her bedtime routine before putting her down for the night. Then, dreamfeed her once again before your own bedtime, especially since you’re already awake.
Finally, set your alarm for 30 minutes before she typically wakes up to feed, beating her to the punch and breaking the association between crying and expecting to be fed.
With these tips, now you can extend her sleep just a bit longer with dreamfeeding—or at the least, not get woken up as much with the Dreaded Cry in the middle of the night.
Tell me in the comments: what are your best tips to dreamfeed your baby?
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