I've talked a lot about the dreamfeed over the years. It's a hot topic-- because who doesn't want to get an extra couple hours of sleep with a new baby early on? That's at the top of many people's to-do list with a newborn. It's certainly at the top of my list!
With all this chit chat about the dreamfeed, many people are surprised to find out that I didn't dreamfeed all my children. Honestly, I was surprised to find myself not dream feeding all my children. I sat around talking about how amazing it was all the time and then I decided I was going to ditch it with my second child. And my third and my fourth.
It's not that the dreamfeed is a bad thing. I still think it is pretty awesome as far as sleep-advice-every-new-parent-should-hear-about goes (as well as costco baby wipes, because those are just the best). But I realized that it just wasn't for me.
With my first baby, Joshua, I dreamfed him but had to pump because he was so stinking sleepy to nurse. I tried everything but nothing worked but a bottle between his lips. This ended up working out ok because I was working part time (mostly night shifts) and a bottle every night kept up his bottle practice for when I was working or away doing something else. It also gave me a break in the evening while my husband spent some one on one time with the baby feeding and cuddling him. And of course it gave me a good stretch of sleep after the dreamfeed. Sometimes I would pump earlier on in the evening and then go to bed before the dreamfeed and I'd fit some pretty amazing sleep in there.
With my next child, Jacob, I planned on doing the dreamfeed. I started off cluster feeding and then giving the dreamfeed a few hours after the end of the cluster feed. But he was pretty much waking up on his own then or about to wake up since he was a newborn so it wasn't quite a dreamfeed. By the time he was at an age that the dreamfeed is really a dreamfeed (baby is sleeping longer stretches at night and has his nights and days figured out), I decided to not do the dreamfeed. It was kind of a sudden decision but it ended up working out well for me. Here's why:
- I like to go out in the evening with my sisters and friends and I don't like having to be back by 10 or whatever time to give a dreamfeed. I'm a night owl and going out and staying out late is something I love to do that keeps me sane. Plus, shortly after jacob was in town I had a lot of family in town for a few months so I especially wanted to go out in the evenings.
- I really don't like to pump. Whether it is for work or a dreamfeed or for bottle practice, I really don't like it. My work situation changed so that I didn't have to pump for that anymore and I decided I was just not going to pump at all, like ever. Yes, that would mean that I would miss out on some activities that would require my baby to have bottles while I was gone (which he couldn't because he didn't take them), but I decided I was ok with this. I preferred it to pumping. At the time I felt like I would also have to pump for the dreamfeed because I had to pump for my first baby. Looking back, I think this was a wrong assumption because I'm pretty sure jacob would have nursed fine at night, but at the time it was adding to my no df decision.
- I like the idea of baby sleeping through the night at his own pace (with my encouragement) if at all possible. I give full feeds, I try to encourage sleep at the right times, encourage good sleep habits, and baby drops feeds and sleeps through when he is ready. I also like baby to sleep through the night as soon as he is capable. With the dream feed, you don't really know when baby is capable. Often times you end up giving it for a while after your baby can sleep through. Some baby let you know they are done with it, but that isn't often the case.
- I was confident I would have baby sleeping through the night with just one waking at an early age, so having to wake up frequently before this time without a long night stretch didn't worry me. Once baby was waking just once at night, I would have to get up to feed him (with a df I would just feed him before bed), but this didn't bother me. I preferred it to having to make sure I was available to give a df each night (or pump for a df).
- I was trying to avoid early morning wakings. I dwelt with these with my oldest and at the time I felt like my chance of early morning wakings was less if baby was feeding in the middle of the night (a few hours before waking) rather than at 10/11 pm and then waking up early in the morning hungry. This was a total guess on my part.
So that is some list! I ended up being happy with my decision to not df and I didn't give the df with my next two children either. Well, not really. I did some cluster feeding with my newborns the first month or two. This allowed me to get some extra food in baby before bed and also have baby go to bed a little later at night, after which I'd shortly go to bed. By the time my kids were a couple months old, I was just feeding one time at night and they were going to bed early and I was going to bed at a normal adult time.
For most people the dreamfeed works out amazingly. Baby does well with it, parents get extra sleep and everyone is happier. But if you either choose not to do it or it just isn't working out for baby to do it (causes sleep issues, etc), then no worries. Good sleep for the both of you is very possible either way.
Want to learn more about the dreamfeed? Check out these posts:
What Is A Dreamfeed And How Do I Give It
Troubleshooting the Dreamfeed
Dropping The Dreamfeed