So you’ve got a newborn and you’ve made it past the “Holy crap how do I change a diaper and feed a human without losing feeling in my right arm” phase? Congrats! But now your human wants to eat constantly, and you’re not getting any sleep. That’s where the dream feed comes in.
What is a dream feed? Dream feeding is when you pre-empt your baby’s middle-of-the-night feeding by plucking her out of her crib (right before your own bedtime) and encouraging her to nurse while she’s still asleep.
Why does this work? Most babies are incapable of sleeping through the night until about six months (some much longer) because they wake up hungry. By loading up on extra calories around 11 p.m., they just might be full enough to make it to morning.
But won’t they wake up? No! When babies fall into a deep sleep, they are almost impossible to rouse, meaning you may have to do a bit of foot jiggling and cheek poking to get her to start eating, but she’ll likely stay asleep through most of the transaction.
And will it mess with sleep training? No! The deal with sleep training is that you don’t want to reward your baby by picking her up or feeding her when she wakes up crying. If you preemptively give a feed, you’re not reinforcing bad behavior. (Just be sure to do the wake and sleep trick when you put her back down, so she learns to fall asleep on her own.)