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Solid Food and Sleep

Do Solid Foods Help Babies Sleep Through the Night?

We're excited to share this post from our partners at BabyCenter! Every week, we will be bringing you the best parenting and lifestyle stories from the experts at BabyCenter, including this post from Andrea Updyke about that old wives tale that says babies sleep better after eating solid foods.

Feeding a baby can be a non-stop barrage of questions. Is he getting enough? Is he getting too much? How many wet diapers did I change? What color is the poop? I mean seriously, the amount of poop I have inspected just inches from my face is terrifying. And I will tell you this about the first few months of life; things change so fast it can be nearly impossible to keep up.

My babies are big. At birth, my boys were 11lbs and 10lbs. The first was a week early, the second a week late. I just make big babies, what can I say. Couple that with my choice to breastfeed and I was basically a non-stop all you can eat buffet. I don’t think my babies' bellies were ever the size of a marble or a ping pong ball or really anything smaller than a tennis ball ever. I mean, they ate all the time. And though all the experts said it wouldn't make a difference, both babies did immensely better when they started solids.

Related: Would you have a kid for the tax break?

You can safely start solids between 4-6 months of age. While I had hoped to breastfeed exclusively until 6 months, we opted for solids at 5 months for both boys. Why am I telling you this? Well, because I think sometimes we get so caught up in what we think is right and normal that we forget to have conversations about what actually worked for us. No judgement, just dialogue.


My youngest is now just over 5 months old and until the past couple of weeks has been nursing or sometimes drinking a bottle every 3 hours around the clock. I discussed when to start solids with our pediatrician and he gave the same warning I have read all over the internet, solids won't really help the sleep thing. It's more about learning how to eat.

So I thought, why rush it? He is a happy baby. He eats well and sleeps well (when he sleeps). Maybe he just isn't there yet. But then 2 or 3 wakings became 4 or 5 and he was no longer content with a pacifier and eating more frequently during the day all the while watching my every move when I ate my meals. Over Christmas we decided to start feeding him oatmeal. Let me just tell you, there was no learning how to eat. This boy knew exactly what to do. He ate and he ate.

In the past two weeks he has increased to two meals a day, each with oatmeal and banana and he seems so content! His naps are better. He goes right to sleep when it's time for bed and last night he only woke up once in a 10 hour period.

Can it be the solids or is it really convenient timing? Maybe it's because my boys were so big to begin with? All I know is the more sleep mama gets, the happier we all are.

Someone pass me the sweet potatoes.

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Source: Flickr User dacia mitchell

Nancy3301352 Nancy3301352 5 years
I was just wondering what you've observed since the time you made this post?  Do you still feel like the solids made a difference in sleep?    My little guy is just now turning five months and he is suddenly waking up 3-5 times a night to feed and wants to drink from both breasts where it only took one to satisfy his hunger before.  We tried solids at four months and he didn't really take to it then so I was kind of like you waiting until he hits six months like his doctor recommended.  He just seems so hungry now though.  This afternoon he fed from both breasts and was still hungry so I ended up giving him two thawed cubes of pureed pear mixed with oatmeal and he gobbled it down quite happily.  I'm going to try giving him some more fruit and oatmeal at bedtime with his regular milk feeding and see if we can't get a little sleep tonight.
ilanac13 ilanac13 5 years
my son wasn't that big when he was born, but he's 5 months now - eats like a champ and is like 18 lbs. i just started him on solids this week though since he's just drinking too much milk/formula to make me feel good. i think that he's just not satiated enough - although he does sleep pretty well already. he sleeps 8 hours a night (just not the right 8 hours - waking at like 445). with my girls (twins) i didn't see any big change in how they slept once they were on solids - so i'm with you there - but at least it's the next milestone to look forward too . no more stinky formula only - now it's the gross rice cereal too!
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