Dream Feed Troubleshooting Tips

I put together some troubleshooting tips for the dream feed. I hope they are helpful! You may also want to check out the post What is a dreamfeed and how do I give it and How to drop the dreamfeed.

When baby is too sleepy to take the dream feed:
If baby is too sleepy to take the dream feed and you are nursing, look at the suggestions under breastfeeding and the df above. If these don't help, then try
pumping and giving baby a bottle. If you are giving a bottle and baby is still to sleepy, try waking baby up a bit for the feed. You can try changing baby's diaper at the beginning of the df or half way through (Just like any other night feed, I never suggest changing baby's diaper at the end of the feed since you want them to be relaxed from the feed and ready for sleep, not revved up from a diaper change). Maybe you will need to unswaddle baby, turn on the light, or even talk to baby for a moment. Just make sure you don't go overboard with these things and certainly make sure to stop doing them as you near the end of baby's feed. Another method to try is moving the dreamfeed a few minutes later when baby may no longer be in as deep of a sleep.

When baby won't eat:
He may be too sleepy (see above) or he may not be hungry. If he isn't hungry, he may be getting too much food right before bed. You can try dropping the cluster feeding if you are doing it, moving bedtime a bit earlier (while keeping the df time the same) or decreasing how much you feed baby right before bed. Many baby's don't do well with going to bed without a full feed so what might work better is decreasing the feed amount right before the bedtime feed and while moving the bedtime feed a bit earlier and keeping the dream feed at the same time. So, if baby normally eats at 4 and 7 with a dream feed at 10, try feeding him less than usual at 4, while moving the bedtime feed to 6 and keeping the dream feed at 10.

When the dreamfeed results in a cranky baby or more night wakings
Sometimes when you get baby up for the dreamfeed, you'll end up with a cranky baby or extra night wakings for the rest of the night. If this happens, you can try adjusting the dreamfeed time or trying to keep baby much more sleepy during the feed (avoid diaper changes, keep the light off etc). Makes sure to not rush into changing things around too quickly and keep in mind that babies have off days here and there. If you are still having issues after some troubleshooting, then maybe the dream feed isn't for your little one.

Baby still wakes at night to eat with the dreamfeed
So you just started the dreamfeed and you lay down for what you assume will be a few hours worth of sleep when...wait, what is that, baby is up again and asking to eat? Wasn't the dreamfeed suppose to help you drop a night feed or at least make it move to a much later time?

Well, yes, that was the idea, but sometimes it take a while for this to happen--a few days to several days. Babies often get into the habit of waking up at a certain time to eat, even if they aren't hungry anymore and it can take time for this to change. Sometimes it'll change on it's own, and sometimes you will need to help things along by comforting baby with wakings but not feeding baby, not rushing into baby with wakings or trying wake to sleep

Can the dreamfeed turn into a habitual feed?
Yes, it can, just like any other night feeds. This doesn't usually happen, but keep a look out just in case. I'd suspect this if your baby is far past the age of needing the df but still wants it or if he wakes for the df but only eats a tiny bit. If you suspect a habitual feed, then work on trying to wean from it.

The dreamfeed used to work, but now doesn't
Sometimes keeping the df too long ends up causing sleep problems with babies. It starts to mess up with their nightly sleep rhythms. Other times, all you need to do is change the timing of the df to fix the issues. You will have to do some trial and error to figure out what is wrong. Oh, and don't forget that babies, like us, have their off days. And they get sick too and go through a bunch of developmental stages that can cause havoc with sleep for a time (remember those Wonder Weeks?). So if one bad day pops up, wait it out a bit before making changes. It may be a fluke.

Do you have any helpful advice about dream feeds? Please share!


  1. Do you have any advice on what the best time for the dreamfeed is? The Baby Whisperer says it should be between 10 and 11pm, no later than 11. If my son is on a 4 hour routine, I was thinking doing it at 11 was the right time but he wakes up a TON in the EARLY morning. (I think it may be habitual waking and we will be working on that soon) But I guess I'm just not sure if we are actually doing it at the right time. I have the book, "The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems", not her original book so I don't know if that would answer my question. Do you have any suggestions/advice/experiences?



  2. Nicole,
    If he wakes up a ton in the early morning I would check out the post early morning waking to see if there is any helpful advice. You may want to adjust the time the df is given. Trail and error will tell if an earlier time might help.

  3. Hey Rachel! I was wondering what you would recommend for my three month old son...he wakes up at some point in the night, usually around 2:30-4. Giving him the df hasn't changed this. Last night was one of the rare nights I didn't do a df and he went to bed at 7, I fed him before bed, and then woke up at 3:30. Should I keep doing the dream feed?
    Thank you so much for writing!!

  4. Hey Rachel! I was wondering what you would recommend for my three month old son...he wakes up at some point in the night, usually around 2:30-4. Giving him the df hasn't changed this. Last night was one of the rare nights I didn't do a df and he went to bed at 7, I fed him before bed, and then woke up at 3:30. Should I keep doing the dream feed?
    Thank you so much for writing!!

    1. jmalc,
      Give it several nights if you haven't already, possibly adjusting the time a bit to see if it helps. If that doesn't help at all, then I'd probably consider it a no go and drop it.


  5. Hi Rachel-
    I recently dropped the DF for my 8 week old as I didn't think it was helping- he would take only 2-3 ounces and still wake up in early morning for feed and also wake early for the day. After 4 days of dropping it, I have had mixed results- 2 days were great, 2 days disasters with early wake ups. I give him his last day feed right before bed at 7 (kinda a cluster feed- a few ounces at 6:30, then bath, then top off right before bed). I used to give the df at 10:30pm. Our wanted wake up time is 6:30am, and he usually wakes earlier. We are BW followers and that works well for us on a 3 hour schedule.
    How long would you recommend not doing the dream feed before deciding if it is helpful or not? Is there a big issue with restarting the dream feed and at what time would you suggest with above info? I do not mind doing a df and night feed, I just want him to sleep later:)
    Thank you-

    1. Nicole and joe,
      I'd keep a sleep log. Watch for patterns. Usually after 5-10 days you'll know if things are improving or worsening.

      Restarting the df at this be probably will go well, but it may take a few days to work again. If you restart it I'd try moving it a bit later to see if he'll be hungrier, keep it at he same time but wKe him up more or try moving it earlier to see if it helps with the early morning wake up. Trial and error is going to be your best bet here.

      You can also move the last two feeds a little farther apart if you don't introduce the df to see if he'll take more right before he goes down for bed.

      If he wakes before 6 can you feed and put him down to slep again, waking at 7 if he goes down semi close to normal wake up.

      I hope all that made sense.

  6. I tried.this today for my one month old exactly how it is suggested in the bw book and df at 10 he actually woke up at 1240 wanting to feed again wjat do I do.if this continues

    1. Gianella Doria,
      This isn't too unusual at first. I'd try it for a few more days to see how it works before deciding whether to continue it or not.

  7. I would like your advice on this - my partner and I don't agree on the dreamfeeding, so I am trying to figure out what is best for baby - not my sleep.

    I have a 4 1/2 month old boy, he eats his 6 oz at 6, asleep by 6:30-7pm. With NO dream feed, he wakes between 2-3am for a 6oz feed, goes back to sleep, then wakes between 6-6:30 to begin his day. With the dreamfeed at 11 he eats 3-4oz, he wakes between 5-5:30am to start his day, and refuses to go back to sleep because he is too awake.

    My partner likes the dreamfeed because we get more uninterrupted sleep, but I don't like it because in the end, our baby is consistently losing about 1-2 hours of sleep at night...

    What would you recommend?

  8. I should mention - we have twin boys. Part of my partner's fear is that when he wakes to eat, he will wake the other baby

  9. Dial a,
    I'd probably drop df and go for the extra sleep for baby unless you can figure out how to get him back to slerp(try going to him sooner when he wakes, keeping things darker and quieter, wake to sleep method).

    1. Sorry for the auto correct on your name above!

    2. Dialma!
      You may also want to try a sound machine to see if it keeps your other son stay asleep.

    3. Hi Rachel,

      Than you for your help. We did end up dropping the dreamfeed at 11pm and instead setting an alarm just before we know they will wake (around 1:30-2am), this way we get the milk ready and though they are fussy, they don't cry out too much and risk waking the other or waking up too much themselves. They have been doing great, after feeding both sleep until 6-7am.

    4. Dialma,
      That's great you found something that works! I hope things keep going well.


  10. Hi I've been looking at your blog- thanks for all this tips. I have a 6 month old that is still yet to sttn consistently. I think the dreamfeed is messing with his night sleep and morning wakeup but I havent known how to drop it bc he's been waking on his own for it for about 3 months. Any suggestions?

    1. Look at this post if you haven't already Courtney
      I would probably decrease how much he's taking at the dream feed until it's all gone. If he keeps waking, you can try wake to sleep, cio or try putting him back to sleep as quickly as possible in any means besides that feed to get him out of the habit of waking then.

  11. Hi there,
    My little one is two and half months old. His bedtime is usually between 7 and 740. He cluster feeds between 6 - 7 and is topped up before bed. He is a breast fed baby and a great little sleeper. I put him down awake and he falls asleep right away. We dream feed him aroun 10- 1030. However, he wakes up every morning anywhere between 2 - 330. He only eats for about five to six minutes and falls asleep. He then wakes around 530. How can I help him sleep through the 2 am wake up and push his wake up to 7am. I forgot to mention that he eats at 530 and then is back in bed till 7 thanks for your help

  12. I have been doing the df since birth but now my 6 month old flatly refuses to eat past 7pm but has started to wake at 3am. This is how it goes:
    7am 7oz feed.
    Attempt at some fruit (BLW with very little food making it in)
    9.30 MN
    11am 7 oz feed.
    12.30pm LTN (1.5 hrs)
    3pm 7oz feed
    4pm sometimes AN
    5.30pm BLW (Once again... really NO food gets actually eaten!)
    6.45pm 7oz feed.
    7pm Bed.

    she has always been funny with feeding and has only recently been finishing her bottles every time but is now refusing the df. When she wakes at 3/4am she will eat if offered but also will just sleep in my arms if I pick her up....
    My concern is she needs the 7 x feeds of 7oz and she isn't getting them all but I really don't want to encourage her to wake to feed at 4am. We've made it this far!!
    What should I do??

  13. Rachel- I am EBF and my 10 wk old currently has her last feed of the day at 7 or 8 (during the day she eats about ever 3-3.5 hours and I try to get her three 1.5-2 hr naps), then wakes In the night around 1230 and 4 to eat, then again at 7am. This is based on her natural rhythm and has been pretty consistent. (She wakes at other times in the night as well but we havent sleep trained yet and have to soothe her back to sleep).

    I am wondering if I should add a dream feed; i am hesitant to add something that she's not already waking herself up for. However I do eventually want to wean the night feeds. I'm not looking for a 12 hour period of no feeding though - we are fine with 8-10 hours (for various reasons). So eventually it would look like, 7-8pm, 10-11 pm, 7am. I'm wondering if instead of adding a dreamfeed and feeding her at 7-8pm, 10-11pm df, 1230, 4am, and 7am, and working from there to eliminate the night feeds, I should gradually diminish her 4 am feed and then adjust her 1230 feed to earlier. Any thoughts?

  14. Hi Rachel,

    I have a 20 week old EBF infant who I didn't start the dream feed with until about 12 weeks of age (when I went back to work he stopped getting good naps during the day so we moved bedtime from 9pm to 7:30pm and added a dream feed). Before adding the dream feed he was sleeping a 5-6 hour stretch to start then 3ish hour stretches after until waking up for good in the morning (usually nursing at 9pm, 3am, 6-7am). I do the dream feed between 9:30 and 10:30pm (2-3 hours after the last feed), but now he's been waking every 2-3 hours all night!!! I only had a handful successful nights with the dream feed. I tried dropping it (cold turkey) two weeks ago, but now he's still waking between 9:30 and 11pm every night, then again at approximately 1/4/6-7.... It doesn't help that in the middle of this we had the 4 month sleep regression, a growth spurt, a cold, vaccine fever..... etc. But the sleep issues only seem to be trending worse and I am at a loss. Fortunately he goes back to sleep easily after nursing and when he wakes only an hour or so after feeding usually goes back to sleep with just a couple pats and maybe the pacifier.

    Do I try to avoid feeding when he wakes for the dream feed or try to push the 1am feed since it's so close to the dream feed? He's doing all of these wakings on his own so it would involve soothing without feeding etc.

    For what it's worth he is 17lbs and has been rock solid on his growth so he's getting the nutrition he needs... I'd just love to consolidate the night feeds somehow, but don't know the best way to approach it.

    Thank you for anything!