Can solid food have an impact on your baby’s sleep?

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By Marita Bezuidenhout – Owner of Tummies Full of Love

The path you take now will most likely impact your child’s life later on…

If your baby is indeed ready to start their solid food journey, the most wonderful adventure awaits you and your little bundle of joy. The excitement and eagerness with which your baby will approach that first spoon full of solid food will have you both overcome with happiness.

A balanced diet between milk and solid food can have a positive impact on your baby’s sleep and can help your baby sleep better when the time is right.

I am a mom. I know what it feels like to be sleep deprived because your baby simply does not want to sleep. I have been there and believe me, I too was sometimes left with more questions than answers to these sleepless nights.

The latest trends that I’ve seen on social media is to introduce all kinds of drinks or food options to make your baby sleep better. But take it from a mom of three: For five years I had non-stop interrupted sleep. I had 3 small kids, and my youngest had severe reflux, and only managed to sleep through at 14 months.

I live to tell the story! When I reflect on that very tired time of my life, I now know that the supposed “quick fixes” don’t solve the problem and can have dire consequences in the future. Don’t start bad eating habits or feeding routines in the hopes of making things easier for yourself now.  I know that all moms are excited to start the solid food introduction journey but there are a few things you need to keep in mind before introducing solid food to your little one.

According to the World Health Organisation, it is recommended that you exclusively breastfeed or give your baby formula for the first 6 months of your baby’s life. Recent studies indicate that an earlier introduction to food between 18-20 weeks can only be done once your baby has all their milestones in place. Remember to consult your pediatrician, clinic sister or dietician to make sure that all required milestones have been reached and your baby is ready to start solid foods.

Introducing solids too early can have a major health impact on your baby’s health and sleep.

These impacts include:

  • possible food allergies
  • choking hazards: Swallowing milk is a different mechanical action to swallowing solids. Your baby needs to transfer the food to the back of the mouth to swallow with their tongue. Cereal in bottles is NOT recommended.
  • poor nutrition: Since milk is still essential at this age, filling tummies with solids will decrease milk intake.
  • constipation/diarrhea: The digestive system is not ready for solid food digestion.
  • less sleep: Your baby will be uncomfortable. Follow this link for more ways that nutrition can influence sleep
  • possible obesity: Later in life
  • possible chronic illness: Diabetes or high blood pressure.

Thinking that food will improve your child’s sleep is correct BUT food needs to be introduced responsibly and at the right time.  Making healthy food choices from the start can set your baby up for a healthy, restful future.