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Dream feeds—what are they and are they right for your baby?

HInt: It may mean more sleep for you.

Dream feeds—what are they and are they right for your baby?

If you're a tired new mama you've probably heard the term "dream feed," and you might be wondering if it will work for your baby.


Most babies wake up multiple times per night in the first few months of life, affecting our ability to get a full night of rest since we are up tending to them. Since sleep training isn't recommended until at least 4 months old, dream feeds can offer a way to help your baby consolidate sleep a bit more.

What is a dream feed?

The thought behind a dream feed is to proactively feed your baby while they are still sleeping (or barely awake)—filling up their bellies to help stretch sleep throughout the night.

Because babies 6 months and younger will often wake up multiple times at night due to hunger, the dream feed is said to eliminate some of these wake-ups.

If all goes as planned, your baby would take the feed while still in dreamland (hence the name), fall back asleep easily, and not wake again for several hours or potentially even sleep through the night.

While it does depend on your baby's bedtime, typically a dream feed is given between 10-11pm, so for many parents conveniently before they're in bed for the night.

How to dream feed

If you want to give dream feeding a try, there are a few best practices to consider.

1. Always make sure your baby is in an upright position or their head is slightly tilted so he can swallow and digest properly

2. Try giving them a full feed if they will take it.

3. If they are too sleepy, try to arouse them slightly by tickling their face or turning on a dim light.

4. You can dream feed your baby whether you're breastfeeding or bottle feeding! In case you're curious, it's usually not necessary to burp them because it isn't usually a full feed—if it is, just try to burp them lightly.

Does it work?

As with anything sleep-related, some babies will take to this method and some won't. In my personal and professional experience, I have seen it work about 50% of the time.

There are a few possibilities that can decrease the effectiveness of a dream feed such as:

  • Your baby not waking enough to take in an adequate amount of milk
  • Your baby waking up fully and becoming overstimulated
  • Your baby taking the feed but then waking up a short time later

In my opinion, dream feeds seem to be the most successful with babies 4 months and younger due to sleep patterns at that age. Newborns come in and out of sleep easily, and since you know they will need a feed, you might as well attempt it with the hope that it will stick. Typically you will notice within a week or so if it's the right option for your baby depending on their response.

By four months, your baby's sleep cycle becomes more like an adult, and a dream feed could potentially disrupt night-time sleep further and throw off their natural cycle. At this age, it is best to allow your baby to consolidate sleep on their own since a development leap typically happens around this point.

Many people refer to this as the 4-month sleep regression. I like to think of it more as a progression.

Either way, at this point a dream feed usually becomes unnecessary. Your child is capable of sleeping through the night at about five months so waiting until they wake up on their own to feed (if that happens) is typically my recommendation. This is assuming they were full term and don't have any medical issues to be concerned about.

Dream feeding might be a great option for your baby, and I encourage you to give it a try during the first few months. It is important to remember that some babies don't take to this method and that's perfectly normal.

If your baby doesn't seem interested, you should follow the feeding advice of your pediatrician for scheduled feedings throughout the night, or wait until your baby wakes up and then offer a feed.

If it does work for your baby, great! You'll just want to make sure that you have a plan to transition from dream feeding once your child hits that developmental leap and no longer needs it. When it's time to stop at around four months, you can either stop the dream feed "cold turkey" or gradually decrease the amount of milk give.

Trying out this method might take a bit of experimenting and some patience, and like any other venture in parenting you'll figure it, and you will get through it!

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Create a school-ready capsule wardrobe for your kids

Dress for success whether virtual learning or in the classroom!

Tina Meeks

Going "back to school" this year may be less of a literal statement than in years past—but there is just as much reason for your kids to celebrate moving on to new grades. Just like in every new school year, a big part of the fun is refreshing your kids' wardrobe with clothes that allow them to express themselves.

Even if finding back to school clothes this year doesn't include a trip to the mall, you can still make an event of it by shopping H&M's kids collection from your computer. Pull up another chair for your shopping buddy and get the cart started with these fave capsule wardrobe options we've already scouted.

Here are our favorite picks:

A t-shirt made for play

H&M t-shirt

Call them essentials, not basics. A graphic t-shirt aces the test when it comes to being perfect for school. And because your little student will probably want to wear something that expresses their personal style as often as possible, it's great to know the shirts can stand up to school time, playtime, downtime and everything in between!

$4.99

Dressed-up casual shorts for total comfort

H&M boy shorts

Whether pulling up a chair for a virtual meeting with the class or heading back to the school for in-person learning, some comfortable, yet stylish, shorts will help your kid focus on the real tasks at hand: learning—and having fun while doing it!

$19.99

Layers for when seasons change

H&M sweatshirt

When it comes to feeling comfortable at school, layers are the MVPs. Whether the AC is blasting or the day started off cool and is warming up quickly, having a unique sweatshirt to shed or add will help your kid look cool while staying warm.

$9.99

A bit of flair with distressed denim

H&M distressed jeans

A school staple for generations, denim is both classic and continually fashionable with updates like distressing and new wash colors. If you're shopping online for jeans this year, take note of H&M's generous return policy—your kids can try on the orders at home and return anything that doesn't fit without a trip to the store.

$24.99

A fashion statement piece

H&M girls skirt

What's better than expressing yourself through a stylish outfit when school is back in session? Still feeling perfectly comfortable and ready to tackle anything the day holds while looking so good. With so many fashion-forward looks available at budget-friendly prices, H&M's children's collection means every kid can find an outfit that speaks to them.

$14.99

Some comfy kicks

H&M boys shoes

A sure way to put a little pep in your child's step this year, cool and cozy shoes are a staple on all back-to-school shopping lists for good reason. (Plus, it's fun to compare them to last year's shoes to see how much your kid has grown!)

$19.99

Anything-but-basic blouses

H&M girls blouse

Whether in the classroom or showing up for a video call with the class, a styling blouse or button-down shirt is a great way for your student to comfortably dress up the day. Better yet? Style doesn't have to come at the expense of comfort with so many made-to-move tops designed just for kids.

$14.99

A shirt ready to go whatever the day holds

H&M boys shirt

With "going to school" meaning anything from showing up in the classroom to doing a virtual session, it's important to have clothes that are perfect for anything the day holds. A classic, cotton shirt with a fashion-forward design is a great way to keep your student feeling ready to start the year with an A+ attitude.

$9.99

This article was sponsored by H&M. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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