True or false: Do solids help babies sleep better at night?
Will starting solids help your baby sleep at night?
The first few months can be unpredictable with newborns - they seem to sleep an awful lot but not always at night when you're needing your precious Zz’s. Night feeds can also be tiring and time consuming, particularly if it’s every couple of hours or so.
Of course everyone has an opinion on babies and sleep - you’ll be told you’re spoiling you're child, not to rock them to sleep, to co-sleep or not to co-sleep, to put baby to bed earlier/later/offer a dream feed/don’t offer a dream feed. The mix of advice can be more exhausting than the tiredness itself.
There’ll be a well-meaning someone or other who’ll tell you that their little one slept through at 12 weeks after introducing a spoon of baby rice at bedtime and you’ll start to wonder if there’s any merit in these old fashioned ways.
So is there any truth to this? Will introducing solids promote a longer, better sleep for your baby? It sounds plausible enough - the fuller a baby is, the smaller the chance of waking up?
But the fact is it’s unlikely to just be hunger that wakes your baby at night - they could be too hot, cold, snuffly or just in need of a cuddle. It may also be the first stage of sleep regression.
Experts recommend waiting until your baby is six months old before introducing any solids.
Introducing solids too early (even baby rice, cereal or porridge) could actually make your baby ill - and that’s not going to help their sleep either!
There are some signs that you’ll notice which may make you think your baby is hungry but don’t let these fool you into thinking that it’s time to wean and that they’ll sleep through just because you start introducing solids. Watch out for night waking, chewing fists and wanting extra feeds as these are normal behaviours which won’t go away just because you wean. After all, the aim of weaning is to gradually introduce solid food, tasted ad textures to your baby. This should be done over time to teach your baby new skills, it’s not about ‘filling your baby up’ as their first meal may only be a spoonful or two as babies still get all their nutrients from milk.
Beginning weaning will not make a baby sleep through the night. Sleeping through is controlled by hormones and some babies can begin sleeping through the night from 6-8 weeks but some do this much later.
While all babies alternate between deep sleep and lighter sleep the simple fact is that some wake easily when they are in a light sleep. Solid foods won’t change this. Unfortunately, some babies just take a little longer to sleep all through the night.
So when a well-meaning auntie tells you that weaning is the golden elixir to sleeping through, it may be best to just smile and say you’re sorted.