Mar
08
2009

  Dream Feed To The Rescue!

Finally, a full night's sleep! I've been not sleeping well for quite a few days, waking around 4:30am and not being able to fall back asleep for hours.

The last time this happened (January), I was able to fix the problem by eating a midnight snack. Back then, I also woke up very hungry, but lately I haven't been waking up hungry, but I don't have any other ideas. So I ate a burrito last night at midnight, just before I fell asleep, even though I wasn't hungry. Surprisingly, it didn't prevent me from falling asleep right away, I thought it might give me heartburn. But I guess I did wash it down with a big glass of milk to help with that.

And today, I am delighted to report that I slept NINE HOURS in a row. I feel great! Hallelujah! I thought I'd be able to paint some trim between breakfast and getting cleaned up for the shower, but that presupposed that I'd be waking around 7am. I am much happier to have been able to sleep all morning. I guess I had a bit of a sleep deficit to make up.

Terry is convinced that the whole waking-at-night thing is my body's way to prepare me for waking at night to feed the baby. I don't think that was the case in January, because I was waking up hungry myself, it was just the way my body was telling me to eat more. But this time, maybe it IS the baby, because I'm not really that hungry. So I guess I am feeding the baby directly, to a certain extent.

Not to extrapolate too much, but this does give me hope that the Baby Whisperer's "dream feed" strategy will work to get the baby to sleep longer through the night. The Baby Whisperer (I forget her name, she's a nanny who has written several books) recommends getting the baby into a routine; Eat, Activity, Sleep, so You have some free time (EASY).

Her theory is that babies wake up at night (at least at first, behavioral issues surface after a few months) because they are hungry, not because they are bored or restless or anything else, just hunger. So you "cluster feed" them in the evening, meaning starting around 5-7pm you squeeze in an extra little feeding, put them to bed, then give them a "dream feed" between 10 and 11pm.

I ate my "dream feed" burrito while I was awake, because I stay up until after 10pm, but the baby doesn't. So you feed it when it is still sleeping! That is why it's called a "dream feed" since it will happen while the baby is asleep. That's why I plan on pumping at least once a day, since it's easier to accomplish with a bottle. You just put the nipple in the baby's mouth while it's asleep, and it will drink reflexively. And when they feed this way, they usually don't drink too fast and take in air, so they don't need to be burped. So they continue to sleep, and since they've been fed, it prolongs the time they stay asleep before they wake up again from hunger. So while they're still going to get up much earlier than you would yourself, the Baby Whisperer uses this technique to avoid a 2-3am feeding, so you sleep from 10 or 11 straight thru 4-5am, which is easier for most parents to handle. And if the dad does the dream feed (recommended, so it's what we plan to do), the mother can go to sleep early (8-9pm), and might actually be reasonably well-rested by 4-5 am.

Another month, and I'll get to test all these baby theories in practice. And, according to other mothers, find out that not everything I plan will work out at all like anticipated, and I'll have to wing it. We'll see. It is the nature of first-time parents to think their baby will be different, and true to form, I remain unconvinced that my little angel won't respond appropriately to my well-planned care.