Traditionally, the dreamcatcher is hung above the bed, is used as a charm to protect sleeping children from nightmares. As dreamcatchers are made of willow and sinew, they are not meant to last forever but are intended to dry out and collapse as the child enters the age of adulthood.
The Ojibwa believe that a dreamcatcher will catch bad dreams and allow good dreams to pass through the center hole to the sleeper. Charms such as feathers or beads are also said to allow the good dreams to slide down to the sleeper. Bad dreams caught in the web fade in the light of dawn.