It's a common belief among many parents that introducing solid foods earlier can help babies sleep through the night. Although this may, at least in part, be true, some parents may feel pressure to start solids before their baby is developmentally ready. However, it's important to recognize that there are potential risks to introducing solids too early or at the expense of breastfeeding or formula feeding.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends introducing solid foods at around 6 months of age, in addition to breastmilk or formula. Breast milk or formula should still be the primary source of nutrition for babies until they’ve shown signs of readiness such as good head control and the ability to sit with little assistance. Once they're ready, it's bibs on go-time!
Do solids improve baby sleep?
As parents, we all just want a good night’s sleep. Although starting your baby on solid foods can possibly help them sleep better, it certainly is not a magic button that guarantees a full night’s rest. The idea behind this is, if your baby is waking through the night due to hunger, going to bed full will certainly help prolong any period before their tummy grumbles wake them, and you, up.
Most of the time though, babies wake up simply - because they’re babies. Sleeping through the night is a developmental milestone that many babies won’t reach by the time they’re ready to start solid foods.
That said, introducing solid foods to your baby's diet may not directly improve their sleep, but establishing a consistent feeding schedule and bedtime routine can help to promote healthy sleep habits. This can include feeding your baby at regular intervals during the day, providing a quiet and dark sleeping environment, and establishing a consistent bedtime and naptime routine.
Another trick that can help your baby fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer is Dreamland Weighted Sleep Sacks and Swaddles. We even offer a Transition Swaddle and Weighted Blanket for all of your baby’s milestones. The secret behind Dreamland are safe gentle weights that work to naturally reduce stress and anxiety, while mimicking a hug. Our products are doctor-approved and proven to improve sleep.
What foods help babies sleep better?
You may have heard the old wives tale that putting some rice cereal in your baby’s bottle may help them sleep better. Although, the foundation behind this thinking holds some merit, do not do so unless directed by your pediatrician as this can present a choking risk for your baby. Here’s what you can feed your baby to help them get a solid night’s sleep:
Foods high in tryptophan.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that is used by the body to produce serotonin and melatonin, two hormones that play a role in regulating sleep. Foods that are high in tryptophan include dairy products, turkey, chicken, and eggs.
Foods high in magnesium.
Magnesium is a mineral that is important for muscle relaxation and can help to promote feelings of calm and relaxation. Foods that are high in magnesium include leafy green vegetables, whole grains, and bananas.
Foods high in carbohydrates.
Eating foods that are high in carbohydrates can help to promote feelings of sleepiness by increasing the production of insulin, which in turn helps to transport tryptophan into the brain. Good sources of carbohydrates include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Foods high in vitamin B6.
Vitamin B6 is important for the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps to regulate sleep. Foods that are high in vitamin B6 include fish, poultry, potatoes, bananas, and chickpeas.
Fun fact, these same amino acids and hormones that are found in table food are also present in your breast milk!
Keep in mind that younger babies will start off with much simpler foods. Some usual starters are bananas, sweet potatoes, peas, and carrots. Unless you’re practicing “baby led weaning,” these first foods will be steamed and mashed to a puree consistency to prevent choking.
Should I feed baby solids before bed?
It's generally recommended to feed babies solids during the day, when they are awake and alert, and to leave a sufficient amount of time between feeding and bedtime to allow for digestion. However, every baby is different and may have different feeding and sleeping patterns. That said, there are some risks associated with feeding solids at night. By bedtime, your baby is likely less alert than they were earlier in the day. This presents a choking risk - always be sure baby is fully awake and alert when feeding them any solids. Additionally, solid foods take longer to digest than breastmilk or formula, which can lead to discomfort and trouble sleeping if your baby's body is still working on digesting the food, especially if this food is new to them.
What is the 3 day rule for introducing solids?
The three-day rule for introducing solids is a common recommendation for parents introducing solid foods to their babies for the first time. The rule involves introducing only one new food at a time and waiting for three days before introducing another new food. The purpose of the three-day rule is to allow time to identify any allergic reactions or digestive issues that the baby may have to a particular food. By waiting for three days before introducing a new food, you can monitor your baby's reactions to the food and determine whether it is well-tolerated or not. Introducing foods slowly takes the guesswork out of identifying the root of any adverse reactions or digestive issues.
How long should a baby sleep after solids?
After a baby eats solid food, they may need some time to digest their meal before sleeping. It's generally recommended to wait at least 30 minutes to an hour before laying a baby down for a nap or bedtime. This can help reduce the likelihood of discomfort or reflux caused by lying down too soon after eating.
It's important to note that the amount of sleep a baby gets can vary depending on their age and individual needs, and won’t have too much to do with how much solid food they’re eating - but if they typically wake due to hunger, their sleep intervals may increase by up to a couple of hours.
What time of day is best for solids?
The best time of day to feed baby solids can vary depending on the individual baby and their schedule. Some parents may choose to offer solids as a part of their baby's mealtime routine, such as during breakfast or lunch, while others may prefer to offer solids as a snack in between breast feedings or bottle feedings. There is no right or wrong, just whatever works for your family.