Whether you use your breast or a bottle to feed your baby, you probably know that there is a plethora of methods and practices out there. Each parent has their own reasoning for their preferences, but ultimately you will have to decide what situation works best for you and your baby. In a long line of labels given to types of feeding, the most recent trend involves how to dreamfeed with a newborn baby. Since most parents will tell you that it usually takes a combination of methods to set up a solid feeding and sleep schedule for infants, it's not surprising that dreamfeeding aims to be the best of both worlds.
First off, don't worry if you're not quite familiar with the term. The simplest definition for dreamfeeding is, "where you feed your baby while they are still asleep, before you go to bed yourself," according to The Baby Sleep Site. It can be done with both formula and breast milk. Ideally, this post-bedtime feeding should tide their tiny tummies over for a bit longer so you can get more sleep. Of course, as with anything involving a newborn, you want to make sure you're doing everything safely. So, how do you dream feed with a newborn? "Always stay awake when feeding your baby, instead of dozing off while in session," physician Dr. Aditi Gupta Jha tells Romper. "Dreamfeeding may be done in any position, but watch for any signs of choking or suffocation." Even if you're using a bottle, you still have to be mindful of how you're holding your baby. Due to the fact that dream feeding is done in the evening — when every single thing is telling your senses that it's time for bed — it's a good idea to go into the situation as alert as possible.
As any parent of a newborn will tell you, sleep is a hot commodity that is in high demand but low supply. The basic human need for rest is one of the primary reasons many of my friends were beyond eager to try dreamfeeding. I certainly know that I would have done nearly anything to sleep longer — and with fewer interruptions between feedings — when my son was first born. But, as Dr. Jha mentioned, you have to be aware not to fall asleep yourself as you are dreamfeeding your infant. With that in mind, most proponents of this method believe that — as long as both you and your baby are healthy and safe — the potential down sides to dream feeding are minimal.
One possible drawback of practicing this new feeding method has to do with your little one's tummy and should definitely be taken into consideration. "Dreamfeeding can overfill a baby and cause sleep disruption and gastrointestinal discomfort," International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Leigh Anne O'Connor says. "However, much depends on the baby, how often baby is fed, and the milk storage capacity of the breast." If you already know about how long it takes your child to digest and process your breast milk before needing to be fed again, then you will likely be able to gauge how much and how often your dreamfeeding session should last. Of course, since every newborn has their own disposition and unique needs, only you will know what the right fit is for their sleep and feeding routine. As always, it's a good idea to check with your physician or baby's pediatrician to discuss all the possible benefits and risks associated when changing to a new feeding pattern.
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