Why Dreamfeeding & Breastsleeping Aren't The Same

Parenting is like hip-hop. There's new lingo all the time, and if you take yourself out of the game for a minute, you can miss a lot. I breastfed both of my now school-aged children, and I tried just about everything from keeping them near my bed to loading them up with milk at night in hopes of getting a few extra Zs. I had no idea there were actual terms for these techniques, I just wanted to sleep. If you're like me and all of these terms have you totally confused, you may be wondering how is dreamfeeding different from breastsleeping?

According to the Baby Sleep Site, dreamfeeding is feeding your baby while she is asleep before you go to bed. The idea is that by giving the baby another feeding (whether she asks for it or not) before you turn in for the night, you will get to enjoy a longer stretch of sleep yourself. Additionally, deamfeeding doesn't require sharing a bed with your baby. While dreamfeeding may get your baby to sleep longer during the night, there could be some drawbacks to implementing this approach. As Net Mums mentioned, because babies experience their deepest sleep at night, it may be difficult to wake a sleeping baby for a dream feed. You may also find that once you wake your baby for his nighttime snack, it could be difficult to get him settled back to sleep again.


Breastsleeping, on the other hand, is a term coined by anthropologist, Dr. James McKenna. In a report published in ACTA Paediatrica, McKenna explained breastsleeping as the combination of bedsharing and breastfeeding. In his report, McKenna suggested nursing moms need as much physical contact with their babies as possible to help them establish a healthy nursing relationship. In a breastsleeping relationship, the baby would wake to nurse on demand and go back to sleep once he's finished. While some parents might be wary of breastsleeping due to the dangers of SIDS, Dr. McKenna believes breastsleeping is completely safe. According to McKenna, breastsleeping is safer than bed-sharing while bottle feeding because nursing mothers and their babies sleep lighter and are more sensitive to each other's movements, as Fit Pregnancy mentioned.

Although there are pros and cons to both, a successful breastsleeping or dreamfeeding relationship could lead to a happier baby and a well-rested mommy. As with everything in parenting, you may have to experiment with both techniques in order to determine which situation works best for your family.