When your baby goes to sleep for the night, you do whatever it takes to make sure they don’t wake up. You may tiptoe and keep your voice to a whisper, you may keep the television on mute during your Netflix binge — basically, you'll do anything because you're worried that the smallest noise will keep your baby from falling into a deep sleep. But if you are trying get your baby to sleep for a longer stretch during the night by dreamfeeding, you'll want to know, how long after your baby falls asleep do you dreamfeed?
According to the WeeBee Dreaming website, dreamfeeding is when you feed your baby while they’re asleep, just before you go to bed at night. It allows parents to avoid waking up for those night time feeds, the website explained, because it can reduce their baby’s hunger-related sleep disturbances. So if your baby is able to sleep for a longer period of time, you can sleep for longer, too.
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Tania Archbold tells Romper that breastfeeding when the baby is in a light sleep can be useful in getting another breastfeeding session in before you go to bed, too, and may even help increase weight gain if your baby is underweight. "It can also be a tool to encourage latching if the baby is on a nursing strike," says Archbold, "or transitioning from bottle or nipple shield to breastfeeding."
The key is timing it right. Once your baby falls asleep for the night, suggested The Baby Sleep Site, you should wait about three hours before you begin to feed them. For example, if you put your baby to bed around 7:00 p.m., you could feed them at 10:00 p.m. or 11:00 p.m., just before you go to bed. The website explained that you should try to time your dreamfeed in a way that your baby remains full at the time they would otherwise wake up to eat.
But because all babies are not the same, some may not wake up enough to feed, while others may wake completely and you could end up with a fussy baby either way. The Baby Sleep Site also suggested that dreamfeeding may not work for babies who naturally tend to wake frequently, regardless of their satiety.
To dreamfeed before you go to bed, Save Our Sleep recommended gently picking up your baby, and putting your breast or bottle to their lips so they can naturally begin drinking without waking up. If you’re lucky, and time it just right, dreamfeeding may reduce your number of nighttime feedings, which can mean more restful sleep for you. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Just keep that Netflix marathon on low.