Dream feeding: an evidence-based help guide to helping babies sleep longer

Many parents who’ve attempted it possess the impression it works. Because the days pass, their babies sleep in longer, more consolidated bouts.

However we’d expect that to occur anyway. When all goes well, youthful infants develop more consolidated sleep patterns during the night.

To determine that dream feeding is useful, we want controlled, randomized experiments — studies made to test the particular results of “tanking up.”

Unfortunately, such research

is missing.

For instance, one randomized study tracked the results of the

comprehensive sleep education program on roughly 125 families with youthful

infants. In contrast to the control group, these babies made an appearance to rest longer

during the night (Paul et al 2016).

The training program incorporated instructions for giving dream feeds to newborns, it featured greater than 20 additional

recommendations, including strategies for swaddling, using pacifiers, using white-colored

noise, applying bed time routines, staying away from overstimulation, and allowing

infants time for you to self-soothe.

Which of those tactics were accountable for sleep

enhancements? We can not make sure.

That leaves us having a much smaller sized study that tested dream feeds included in a 3-component intervention. Within this study, researchers

at random assigned 13 parents to use all of these practices:

  1. Administer a large feed to newborns

    sometime between 10pm and night time.

  2. Progressively lengthen

    times between night feedings beginning with “transporting out alternative

    caretaking behaviors” like reswaddling, diapering, and walking.

  3. “Maximize ecological variations between day and

    night time” by minimizing infant contact with social stimulation and

    artificial light during the night.

At eight days postpartum, all 13 from the parents who’d transported out this three-part strategy reported their babies were sleeping silently every night between night time and 5am.

By comparison, only three of the 13 parents within the control group reported this milestone (Pinilla and Birch 1993).

So there’s need to believe that the intervention was useful, but we do not know what amount of the effects were brought on by dream feeding. Independent studies claim that another two tactics used (#2 and #3) might help babies develop old sleep patterns. It’s therefore likely that dream feeding was one of several adding factors.

Weighing the benefits and drawbacks of dream feeding: A great bet for many families, particularly when coupled with other sleep-friendly practices

The truth that nobody yet has conducted an effective test of dream

feeding — a randomized, controlled experiment made to isolate its effects

on family sleep outcomes — should not put you off giving it a go.

It may be useful, and there isn’t any need to think it might hurt — not in case your

baby gets enough to consume overall, and never should you avoid waking your child.

If you’re waking your child every night to give, then we must question: Could these parent-initiated night wakings hinder the introduction of consolidated, night time sleep? The issue has not been tested by rigorous experiments, therefore we don’t yet know.

However if you simply administer the large feed whenever your infant has already been awake — or discover that you can feed your sleeping infant without awakening her or him — it appears you’ve got nothing to get rid of if you attempt. Overall,

the benefits and drawbacks seem like this:


Dream feeding: an evidence-based help guide to helping babies sleep longer families, particularly
  • The publish-feed sleep bout may traverses usual, providing you with more chance to seize a number of that NREM3 sleep. Even an additional 30 minutes might have an essential effect on your wellbeing and well-being.

  • In conjunction with other tactics — like protecting your child from artificial lights during the night — the practice might speed up the introduction of old night time sleep patterns.


  • The strategies is inappropriate for babies who’re underweight, you aren’t thriving. Talk to your doctor before attempting.
  • Should you regularly awaken your child to manage an rss feed, you may be reinforcing kids inclination to wake frequently — which makes it tougher for your child to build up more consolidated sleep patterns over the years.

Other questions

What by trying it, also it does not work?

Hunger is not the only real reason why babies awaken. Sleep research confirms that everybody encounters many, partial wakings throughout the night, and babies aren’t any exception. Actually, for youthful babies, these arousals might help prevent cot death, or SIDS.

Therefore if your child is not sleeping for five hrs straight at 8 days old, that may help make your existence a great deal harder, however it is not unusual neither is it an indication that something is wrong together with your infant. When I explain in the following paragraphs, there’s lots of individual variation in baby sleep patterns. Some babies sleep longer and much more soundly than the others.

Dream feeding: an evidence-based help guide to helping babies sleep longer burping following

So when you hear other parents bragging concerning the baby who “sleeps during the night,” bear in mind: This is not an excellent-baby who never awakens. What’s really happening would be that the infant is keeping relatively quiet during night wakings, and falling to sleep with their own.

That’s your main goal — to assist your child learn this skill. “Tanking up” will make it simpler, but it is most likely only one factor among many. To pay for your bases, combine dream feeds with other, well-supported tactics (such as the ones pointed out above). If dream feeding is difficult to apply, and does not appear to become on your side, provide a pass.

When should a parent or gaurdian stop dream feeding?

That’s a different one of individuals questions that has not been addressed by controlled research, and regrettably, there’s lots of conflicting advice.

For example, some suggest that dream feeds should stop after your child is 16 days old (Paul et al 2016). Others, like Tracey Hogg, claim that “tanking up” usually stays helpful until your child is 6 several weeks old (Hogg and Blau 2005).

Possibly a few of the disagreement comes from the various definitions that individuals use. Individuals who argue for ending the practice early may stress about the results of deliberating waking your sleeping baby during the night to give. That is not a problem for Hogg, because she’s speaking about feeding an infant although it sleeps.

Must you burp your child after feeding?

It’s difficult to create generalizations that affect everybody. Different babies might have different quirks and requires. But overall, there’s little evidence that burping an infant following a meal is advantageous.

Dream feeding: an evidence-based help guide to helping babies sleep longer is useful, we want controlled

Inside a controlled study in excess of 70 mother-infant pairs, researchers discovered that burping didn’t have effect on signs and symptoms of infantile colic. And babies at random allotted to the burping treatment really demonstrated an elevated inclination to regurgitate later on (Kaur et al 2015).

Therefore it appears better to avoid burping following a dream feed. You risk waking your child up for any procedure that could be unnecessary, possibly even counter-productive.

How about altering kids diaper?

Should you baby has already been awake, and it has a soiled diaper, altering it may be beneficial. What in case your baby is asleep? In the event you improve your diaper now — to avoid her or him from awakening later?

Most likely not, because experiments claim that babies will happily sleep via a wet diaper (Zotter et al 2007).

More details about baby sleep

For additional recommendations on helping infants sleep, see this content about newborn sleep, baby sleep patterns, and solving infant sleep issues.

Additionally, consult this infant sleep chart for details about the standard selection of infant sleep behavior — such as the timing of milestones. And on infant feeding here.


Faraut B, Nakib S, Drogou C, Elbaz M, Sauvet F, De Bandt JP,

Léger D. 2015. Napping reverses the salivary interleukin-6 and urinary

norepinephrine changes caused by sleep restriction. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 100(3):E416-26.

Karp H. no date. “What’s dream feeding? And how do you get it done?” [blog publish] Retrieved from https://www.happiestbaby.com/blogs/blog/what-is-a-dream-feed-and-how-do-i-do-it on 5 June 2018.

Kaur R, Bharti B, Saini SK. 2015. A randomized controlled

trial of burping to prevent colic and regurgitation in healthy

infants. Day Care Health Dev. 41(1):52-6.

Hogg T and Blau M. 2005. Secrets of the people Whisperer. Ballantine.

Paul IM, Savage JS, Anzman-Frasca S, Marini ME, Mindell JA,

Birch LL. 2016. INSIGHT Responsive Parenting Intervention and Infant Sleep.

Pediatrics. 138(1). pii: e20160762.

Pinilla T and Birch LL. 1993. Assist me to pull through the

night: behavior entrainment of breast-given infants’ sleep patterns. Pediatrics.


Zotter H, Urlesberger B, Pichler G, Mueller W, Kerbl R. 2007. Do wet diapers induce arousals in sleeping infants? Acta Paediatr. 96(3):452-3.

Note to readers. The next study attempted to check “tanking up” included in a bundle of tactics, but for whatever reason the mother and father within this study unsuccessful to apply the strategies, therefore the outcome was not incorporated within the text want to know ,:

St James-Roberts I, Sleep J, Morris S, Owen C, Gillham P.

2001. Utilization of a behavioural programme within the first 3 several weeks to avoid infant

crying and sleeping problems. J Paediatr Child Health. 37(3):289-97.

Image credits

Picture of breasfeeding newborn by danielpeinado.photo / flickr

Picture of father feeding infant by Nate Davis / flickr

Resourse: https://parentingscience.com/

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