On this page
– Scenarios and reasons why your baby is unsettled at night
– When will my baby be ready for solids?
– How will this affect my babies sleep?
– Some facts about milk and solids:
– Important things to remember
Is your baby unsettled at night since starting solids? Are you concerned your baby is not sleeping enough or your baby won’t sleep after introducing solids? This blog article aims to dispel some of the uncertainties around introducing solids and why your baby’s sleep pattern may be disturbed.
Scenarios and reasons why your baby is unsettled at night:
First, let’s deal with the 4 scenarios of which you can expect your baby to follow when introducing solids:
- The ideal; your baby was sleeping well and continues to sleep well.
- An improvement; your baby was sleeping badly but now sleeps well.
- No change; your baby slept badly and continues to sleep badly.
- Your baby was sleeping well but now doesn’t.
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If you fall into points 1 or 2 then great, you have no worries, but if you fall into points 3 or 4, it sucks. Hopefully, this article will help.
Now let’s deal with the 5 reasons why your baby is unsettled at night since starting solids:
- Timing – When you first start to introduce solids it’s important to remember that it’s to supplement breast milk or formula feeds and not to replace them. So make sure you always start with a milk feed. Wait a while and then introduce solids a small amount at a time. Try to make sure you are not feeding too close to nap or sleep time so your baby has time to digest the solid food.
- Think quality, not quantity – Your young baby should still be getting most vitamins and nutrients from milk. If you are feeding your baby too many solid foods they may not be getting all the energy they need and will still be hungry. This will result in your baby sleeping badly and waking up for extra night feeds.
- Distractions – Introducing solids usually happens between 4-6 months of age. This coincides with your baby’s increased curiosity about their surroundings. Your baby may become distracted during feed times and not take in as much milk as they should be doing. This has nothing to do with solid food but is part of natural development. It’s important to make sure your baby is taking enough milk, otherwise, they will wake for more night feeds. Try to regulate feeding times and be in a safe quiet place. It’s not always possible we know!
- Tummy upsets – It’s quite normal for babies to have tummy upsets when they start solid foods. Your baby’s digestive system has to adapt to the change from an all-milk diet to one that includes solid foods. So, unfortunately, it may mean a few sleepless nights.
- It may not be the food – Baby sleep problems can be caused by many other things. A change in routine, teething or simply being too hot or too cold can all result in your baby not sleeping. It could just be caused by your baby’s age and their stage of development.
When will my baby be ready for solids?
Starting your baby on solids is an exciting time and a developmental milestone. But it can be confusing for a new mum.
It’s recommended to start your baby on solids at around 4-6 months of age. Signs to look out for that your baby is ready include:
- Your baby has good head & neck control,
- They can sit up on their own or in a baby chair,
- Your baby shows an interest in others’ food, such as watching what you eat and reaching for food,
- They open their mouth when presented with a spoon,
- Bub can pick things up between the thumb and forefinger.
For more info about starting solids read our dedicated blog article here.
How will this affect my babies sleep?
Some studies still say that giving your baby solids will help with sleep. The logic behind this theory is relatively simple: babies wake up when they are hungry, so starting solid food should help your baby sleep better (and longer) since their tummy is more full. Unfortunately, like most things involving a baby, the reality is not that simple. Although it is true that babies wake up when they are hungry, babies wake up for lots of other reasons, too.
Some facts about milk and solids:
- Milk is still the most important food for a baby up until they’re 8-12 months old, so you should always offer a milk feed before solids until they reach this age. In the beginning, solid food works like a top-up for your baby, rather than replacing actual milk feeds.
- After 8 months, you can start to offer solids before milk feeds and gradually start to replace some of the milk feeds during the day (eg, lunch).
- Babies need a combination of protein and iron in their diet from 6 months onward. This helps them feel full enough to sleep well at their lunchtime nap and also overnight. Breast milk contains very little to no iron, but babies are born with enough iron stores to last their first 6 months or until you start introducing solids.
- Only give protein to babies under 10 months at lunchtime so they have enough time for it to digest. Protein given at dinner to a baby younger than 10 months can cause baby sleep problems as their fragile digestive system struggles to cope.
Important things to remember:
Starting solids will not be the miracle cure for a good nights sleep. It will take time for your baby to adapt to solids and to be taking enough for them to be ‘full’. Introduce new foods slowly and allow a few days in between to check for any allergic reactions.
Introducing solids can cause tummy upsets which may result in your baby not sleeping enough. Keep an eye on your baby’s nappy, how often they need changing and the colour and texture of the poop. If you are concerned about your baby’s bowel movements always consult a health care worker.
The Baby Center 2018, Why is my baby sleeping worse now he’s started solids?, Baby Center, viewed at 02 Jan 2020, URL
Glow Dreaming, 2019 Introducing Solids: How it can affect your babies sleep, Glow Dreaming, viewed at 01 Jan 2020, URL