As parents, we all know the importance of getting a good night's sleep for both ourselves and our little ones. Sleep plays a crucial role in our overall health and well-being, and it is especially important the happy, healthy development of our babies. Many parents speculate if starting solids will help their baby turn the sleep corner and ultimately help them sleep through the night. In this article, we'll explore this topic in detail and provide you with some helpful tips. Test
Will Starting Solid Foods Improve My Baby’s Sleep?
As hard as this may be to learn, the short answer is probably not. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that the introduction of solids can help babies sleep through the night or improve sleep overall. While, some parents have reported that their babies sleep better after consuming solids. The reason for this is unclear, but it could be because solids are more filling and keep your baby's stomach full for longer. That said, solid foods tend to be introduced slowly and don’t fully replace milk based feeds for some time.
However it is important to keep in mind that feeding and digestion are just one of many factors that can help your baby sleep better, which include:
- Consistent sleep schedule: To help regulate your baby's internal clock and make it easier for them to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Calm sleep environment: To help a baby feel relaxed and comfortable, making it easier for them to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
- Proper sleepwear: Choosing appropriate sleepwear, such as a onesie or sleeper, along with a swaddle or sleep sack, can help your baby stay comfortable and maintain a consistent body temperature throughout the night.
- Bedtime routine: Such as a bath, story time, and lullabies, can help signal to your baby that it's time to sleep and help them relax.
- Feeding and digestion: Ensuring that your baby is well-fed and has had time to digest before bedtime can help prevent discomfort and ensure a more restful night's sleep.
- Safe sleep practices: Following safe sleep practices, such as placing a baby on their back to sleep and keeping soft objects and loose bedding out of the sleep environment, can help prevent suffocation and other sleep-related accidents.
If you’re struggling with your baby’s sleep and looking to get things back on track, start your free sleep consultation and get a custom sleep plan from the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers to guide you step by step to sleep success.
[no-toc]Tips For Introducing Solids To Your Baby’s Diet
Solids refer to any food that is not liquid or pureed. Typically, parents introduce solids to their babies between 4-6 months of age, depending on their readiness and development. Examples of solids include mashed vegetables, fruits, cereals, and meat.
When your pediatrician gives you the all-clear to start introducing solids to your baby, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Start with small amounts: Begin with a teaspoonful of food and gradually increase the quantity as your baby gets used to it.
- Introduce one food at a time (in the order suggested by your pediatrician): Introducing multiple foods at once can make it difficult to identify any allergic reactions or intolerances. You will typically start with one food at a time for a week before introducing the next in the food ladder.
- Be patient: Your baby may not take to solids immediately, and that's okay. Keep trying, and don't force them to eat – it’s a learning curve!
- Stick to a routine: Offer solids at the same times every day, so your baby gets used to the routine.
If you have questions or concerns on the introduction of solid foods, always consult with your pediatrician.
Can Starting Solids Disrupt My Baby’s Sleep?
Typically, for babies who are already great independent sleepers, the introduction of solids has little to no impact on sleep.
That said, every baby is different, and since introducing solid foods can lead to changes in a baby's digestion, it could affect sleep for some babies. It's important to introduce new foods gradually, giving the baby's digestive system time to adjust. Additionally, certain foods may be more difficult for a baby to digest, which can cause discomfort or wakefulness.
If since introducing solids, you notice a disruption to your baby’s sleep, it’s important to check:
1. Is your baby’s consumption of milk being replaced by solids?
During the first year of life, breastmilk or formula should still make up the lionshare of your baby’s daily calorie intake – solids don’t start to replace milk intake until later. So while they will eventually consume less breastmilk or formula, the initial introduction of solids should not lead to changes in their hunger patterns or impact their sleep.
A feeding schedule for a 6-month old just starting solids could look like this:
Note: This is just an example, it is important to be responsive to your baby’s feeding needs and to offer solids when it works best for your baby and you.
When you start your baby on solid food, it’s more about getting your baby used to the texture and routine solids vs the calories. Quite often your baby will spit most of it out or play with it. That’s why it’s important to ensure, at least to start with, that they still get all they calories they need from breastmilk or formula.
2. Has the introduction of solids coincided with any physical irritation for your baby?
Once the doctor has given you the go ahead to get started, there are a few things you want to keep in mind and look out for, as you safely introduce solids:
- Frequency of bowel movements: Your baby’s digestive system will take a bit of time to adjust to these new foods and it’s not uncommon for some babies to experience more, or less frequent bowel movements.
1. Constipation – Somewhat less frequent bowel movements should not disrupt sleep, however if you suspect your baby is constipated, reach out to your pediatrician.
2. Runny Bowel Movements – You might notice your baby pooping at night, which can be disruptive to sleep. Take note of the foods eaten and try to move them earlier in the day, any issues here should resolve releatively quickly once the body gets used to the new food.
- Allergies: Always introduce foods one at a time, in accordance with the food ladder recommended by the AAP (and your pediatrician). This way you can watch for physical reactions (rashes, swelling, ichiness) and check for signs in your baby’s stool. If your baby experiences an allergy or you suspect they may be allergic, seek medical attention immediately and consult your pediatrician.
Ultimately, the effects of introducing solid foods on a baby's sleep will vary from baby to baby. It's important to pay attention to your baby's individual needs and behaviors and adjust their feeding and sleep routines accordingly. If you have concerns about your baby's sleep patterns after starting solid foods, consult with your pediatrician for guidance.
If Starting Solids Won’t Help With My Baby’s Sleep, What Will?
As discussed earlier in the article, solving your baby’s sleep challenges goes well beyond calorie intake. It involves tuning a number of factors (in addition to calorie intake and nourishment) that work together to help foster healthy sleep habits, including:
1. Following a developmentally appropriate sleep schedule that not only respects your baby’s need to sleep, but is also flexible, using sleepy cues as the driver for naps and adjusting bedtime based on the quality of daytime sleep.
2. Developing consistent bedtime and naptime routines. A set of steps, repeated in the same order, in the same way to cue your baby it’s time for sleep.
3. Providing a sleep nourishing environmentIt’s amazing what complete darkness, a cool room (68-72F) and some white or brown noise can do to help a baby sleep!
4. The ability to fall asleep independently. No one actually sleeps through the night, we all wake between sleep cycles but since we know how to put ourselves back to sleep we hardly notice it. The act of falling asleep is a learned skill and once your baby as mastered how to do this (without your support) they will be able to connect sleep cycles and sleep all night long.
Together, these things form the foundation of healthy sleep – and when one element is missing or the balance is off your baby’s sleep can take a hit. If you’re not sure where to start, take this free sleep consultation, with this in-depth understanding of your baby the Smart Sleep Coach app will tailor a sleep plan to help you get your baby’s sleep back on track.
How We Wrote This Article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.