Will starting solids impact my little one’s sleep?
Sleep is going great! Now it’s time for bubs to start exploring their food journey. But then, all of a sudden, overnight sleep is back to unexplained, frequent night wakes. I’m sure you can all relate!
We see this so often with babies when starting on their solids journey. Starting to introduce solids is important for a number of reasons, but you need to make sure you’re still prioritising their milk intake throughout the day as well!
When should you begin to incorporate solids?
As I say time and time again, no two children are the same. Ultimately, your baby will make it clear to you when it’s the right time to begin the transition to solids. However, the general recommendation according to QLD Health to start introducing solids into your little one’s diet, is usually around the 5-8 month mark.
Some tell-tale signs that your baby is ready to introduce solid foods into their diet include:
- Your little one has strong head and neck control.
- can sit up mostly on their own unassisted.
- Bub doesn’t push food back out of the mouth automatically after intake of solids (no longer has the tongue thrust reflex).
- Your little one seems hungry in between breast or bottle feeding sessions.
- Curiosity surrounding mealtime and food, opening their mouths when they are around people who are eating.
Starting solid foods will be a new experience for your little one. Up until this point, they have only had to focus on digesting breastmilk. As such, the introduction can be a bit of a shock to their little bodies. Understandably, a change to your little one’s regular routine can cause disruptions to their sleep patterns while they adjust.
Common reasons why your baby’s sleep may begin to regress after starting solids:
You need to ensure that you are giving bub enough time to effectively digest the food. Solid feeding to close to sleep makes it difficult for your little one to settle. Let your baby enjoy the food until the are content/ full.
2. Reverse Cycling
Adjusting to solids can welcome back some night wakings temporarily. Parents often tend to feed to get everyone back to sleep, which can kickstart a pattern of what we call “reverse cycling”. This is when little ones consume more of their milk intake through the night than during the day. They will often refuse their morning feed and seem distracted and not interested in their other daily feeds. This is such an easy cycle to fall into without meaning too! We then start to try to get more solids into them as they aren’t having much milk. To ensure you don’t fall into this cycle right down/ track your little ones breast and solid fees to make sure you’re not over serving.
3. Tummy pains, gas & dirty nappies
The introduction of solids to your little one’s diet can also bring with it an increase in gas, dirty overnight nappies and general tummy discomfort. This is due to their immature digestive system. If this sounds familiar to you and your little one, we suggest pulling back on the amount of solids being offered until their milk intake is ideal again throughout the day.
4. Breast comes first; solids come second in the first year
In the first year of your little one’s life, breast milk is meant to be their primary source of nutrition and, as such, shouldn’t be prioritised over solids. It’s important to evaluate your little one’s solid intake during this transition and ensure breast feeding is not taking a back seat. If this is the case, cut back on your little one’s solid intake and gradually increase the amount over time. Around 10–12 months, you can begin to fully commit to solid food intake, reducing breastmilk consumption and favouring a solid food based diet.
5. Think quality over quantity
In the early stages, it’s easy to get overly excited by the idea that your little one is eating solids, wanting to encourage them to eat calorie-dense, nutritious meals. However, this may be causing more harm than good. It’s important to remember that your little one’s tummies are a lot smaller than yours, so in the early stages you need to monitor the volume of solids and continue with breast feedings. If your little one is feeling full from consuming a large volume of solids, the sleep settle will be an uncomfortable experience for them and will lead to sleep hesitation.
At the end of the day any transitions to your little one’s regular routine will bring with them some teething issues. This is normal! Give it time, they will adapt soon enough, and remember, we are here for you every step of the way. Our sleep programs are designed to help you and bub establish the best sleep routine that works for you!