Sleep becomes a rare commodity once parenthood begins, and you'll literally try whatever it takes to get your baby to sleep for longer stretches so you can also get some rest. (Literally — whatever it takes.) If you're a breastfeeding mom, you've probably heard of dreamfeeding to help your little one sleep through the night, but is it too good to be true? What your lactation consultant wants you to know about dreamfeeding just might change up your bedtime routine.
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Tera Hamann tells Romper that dreamfeeding refers to basically breastfeeding your baby without waking them up so they get an extra feeding before you go to sleep. “If it goes well, your baby should sleep through the entire feeding," she says.
But why would you want to attempt to feed your baby while they’re fast asleep? IBCLC Katy Linda explains that a mom will dreamfeed her baby in hopes that she will get a longer stretch of sleep, too. Dreamfeeding is just a way of "topping your baby off before you go to bed," Linda tells Romper, so the longer your baby’s tummy is full, the longer you and baby will get to sleep.
Dreamfeeding, also referred to as breastsleeping, says IBCLC Danielle Spradlin, can even be protective against SIDS because it creates skin-to-skin contact, stimulates a coordinated suck-swallow-breathe pattern, and helps regulate your baby's temperature. “Sucking to sleep is biologically normal for babies, and sucking produces a hormone called cholecystokinin that helps the baby feel sleepy," Spradlin tells Romper. She adds that because babies don’t produce the important sleep hormone melatonin until they are a few months old, nursing while sleeping plays an important part in their normal sleep behavior.
Not only is dreamfeeding beneficial for sleep, according to Spradlin, it’s good for developing and maintaining your milk supply, too. “Breastsleeping behavior is very beneficial for bringing in robust milk production, so encouraging this behavior early on can promote copious lactation.”
If you are planning on dreamfeeding, and have any concerns, reaching out to a lactation consultant can be super helpful. They can provide the expertise, advice, and support you need, which may even translate into a little more sleep and dreaming for you, too.