Written by: Rachel Norman
Sometimes the things that make the most difference with babies are the hardest to do. They feel the most inconvenient.
I remember many nights where I wanted to dive into bed and skip the dream feed. I would climb in bed, crash, then be woken up 20 minutes later to a hungry and crying baby. After a while, it simply wasn’t worth it.
Same with the early morning feeds. They are hard to do! It’s hard to wake up at 5:00 a.m. and feed baby but if it means baby goes back to sleep until 7 a.m. it’s worth it!
If you want baby to begin sleeping through the night on his or her own then dream feeds and early morning feeds are things to work on.
Often we’re tempted to go to bed when baby does and keep sleeping until baby wakes up. However, if you want baby to sleep later in the morning you need to feed more often in the beginning of the evening.
Big snack/feed before bed
One thing that’s very important is to fill baby’s belly (not overfill) before bed. If your baby is overtired you may notice that he falls asleep while taking his last feed before bed. The more you can feed your baby right before bed the better he will sleep in those deeply restorative hours prior to midnight.
If baby isn’t full when he goes to bed, baby can wake up around the 11 p.m. to 12 a.m. time, and this is the time that night waking can be very tricky! Baby got just enough sleep he will think he can stay up, he is hungry so he wakes, and he isn’t used to getting himself back to sleep. You now have a baby who is fighting sleep, and that’s a baby that will be cranky and overtired.
If you can feed a full feed of milk this will help immensely. It’ll help baby go to sleep for a longer stretch initially. which will mean it’s restorative sleep. Then if baby wakes up due to habit or hunger, he won’t be nearly as fussy because the sleep he’s had will have made a difference.
Remember: it’s much easier for babies to transition through active and passive sleep if they aren’t overtired.
Another invaluable tool is the dream feed. This is the feed that happens somewhere between 10:00 pm and 11:00 pm that you do before you go to sleep. Gently get your baby and feed him as much as he will take at this time.
Then it’s a good idea for you to go immediately to bed. This helps the baby sleep a longer stretch at the same time you are, and it helps baby reach the morning with fewer feeds.
In my experience with 5 kids, the dream feed is the last one to be dropped. If baby routinely makes it from that last feed, somewhere around 10 p.m. or 11 p.m., until the morning then I work to drop that feed. Always attempt to wean from a middle of the night feed before the dream feed.
Early Morning Feeds
It’s a good idea to feed baby around the 4:30 a.m. or 5 a.m. mark without fully waking baby. Feed baby in the dark and quiet, then put baby back down to bed until a later hour if desired. IF baby seems to wake up at 5 a.m. and won’t go back to sleep, try waking baby at 4 a.m. with a feed then putting him back down to sleep a bit later.
The more baby has eaten throughout the early evening, the longer baby will sleep in the morning.
White noise is key when baby is feeding. If baby uses the SoundBub white noise machine for all naps, he’ll be more likely to remain drowsy and go back to sleep on his own when he is transitioning through active and passive sleep cycles.
The SoundBub white noise machine is perfect for the nursery or when you’re on the go because it’s hide away hook can clip easily onto strollers, car seats, and even baby carriers.
This post is part of an 8-post series: