Starting solids for the first time is such an exciting time! But it can totally ruin your perfect sleep! All those gorgeous pictures of your baby covered in purred carrots, getting to experiment with different combinations of vegetables, who knew deciding between sweet potato and pumpkin, or courgette and potato with carrots could be such a satisfying feeling.
Then there is the decision to buy organic vegetable or standard non organic….will I poison my baby if any of my vegetables are not organic, is organic a gimmick…
Should I use store bought food, or does that make me a bad mother…..
Is rice cereal the new child abuse….
All of these thoughts are things which most first time mums think about, but this blog isn’t about that, I will leave it up to your coffee group to discuss the finer points of organic vegetables and free range grain fed organic chicken (yes your baby will also eat meat!).
This blog is about food and the affect it has on sleep!
There is a bit of a mothering myth that starting solids nice and early will make your baby sleep through the night, and our parents or grandparents depending on how young you are probably put baby rice cereal in your bottle to start you on solids at 6 weeks! 6 weeks! But starting solids before you baby is ready will probably not help with sleep, if anything the resulting sore tummy will probably result in poor sleep. So watch for signs your baby is ready, and ensure they are minimum 17 weeks, always chat with your healthy provider before starting solids.
Starting with fruits and vegetables is always a good idea, as is some iron fortified rice cereal.
So how could these simple foods effect sleep?
Your baby has spent 4-6 months only ‘eating’ breast milk or formula, so the introduction of solids means, no matter how slowly you do it, their little tummies have some adjusting to do. They have to produce a range of different enzymes to digest the foods, and the gut flora changes as a result. All of this can go unnoticed by your baby, or it can mean they feel a little strange.
Feeling strange can translate into awake at 9pm chatting to myself for 1-2 hours, then grizzling and whinging. This can also be a sign dinner was a bit close to bed time, or a bit hard to digest.
Feeling strange could also mean a sudden wake up in the middle of a lunch time nap, either crying or talking, again it could also mean lunch was too close to the nap.
Your baby might become slightly constipated, or even just panic at the strange way their new bowel motions feel, again this is things they need to get used to. Chat with your babies Dr if you are concerned. They might also wake early in the morning with a new bowel motion. This can disturb your previous good night sleep. Just change their nappy and back to bed. Look at what they are eating for dinner, often too much fruit can cause this.
What about meat? Meat is a first food now, and in small portions is important for iron levels and protein. Start slow, and start in the day not the evening, too much protein at night can destroy your babies sleep.
There is a growing trend towards super foods, and feeding these to our babies. Things like coconut, kale, avocado, quinoa…..although these are amazing food groups, just think about how hard a food is to digest, if it’s a complex fat like avocado, or high in fibre like quinoa it won’t be the easiest food to digest, so be wary of using these as first foods, perhaps work through the basic fruit and vegetables first, then hit them with the super foods!
With super foods and normal foods, think portion size, how much is a portion of yoghurt for my baby? Not an entire tub! Same goes for banana, yes your baby might show signs of wanting to eat that entire banana at 6.5 months old, (who wouldn’t they are delicious!), but a portion size for them is more like 3-4 cm of banana.
Keep increasing your baby’s solids each day, keep offering new foods with new textures. Offer finger foods to improve your baby’s pincer grip, and if you start to see sleep being affected, keep a food and sleep log and give us a call.
If you would like help with your baby or toddler’s sleep, any aspect of sleep, not just solids and sleep – register HERE for a free 15 minute chat, and we will give you a call.