The following is easily on my top 5 list of most frequently asked questions from parents who contact me:
Question: “How do I get my baby to sleep through the night without needing a feed?”
My answer: Well...it depends.
Is Your Baby Ready to Sleep through the Night?
That answer will depends on many factors, such as:
- the developmental readiness of your baby,
- whether your baby is free and clear of any pain (from teething, reflux or GI issues)
- whether he/she is in the middle of a Wonder Week developmental leap
BUT, I can tell you that what you feed your baby and how much they eat in the day can really impact how they will sleep at night.
Once their weight is established, it is a good goal to aim to feed your baby every 3 hours.
This allows a baby to get hungry enough to eat a focused and big feed.
The other factor that can really help a baby sleep is when they begin to eat solids. The recommended age for starting solids has changed in the past few years. Now, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting solids closer to 6 months of age. Researchers have found that waiting to begin solids until 6 months protects babies from a whole host of complications, including illness, food allergies, iron deficiency, and future obesity.
At first the introduction of solids is exploratory—so have fun with it! Then, begin to introduce one new food at a time and space them 3-4 days apart so that you can track how your baby responds. This may not be a time when you see big changes in sleep...YET, BUT once your baby is established with swallowing and food intake, you can begin to branch out and once she is eating healthy fats and proteins, you have a much better chance at longer sleep stretches. This is often between the ages of 7-9 months.
Think about it: Having something substantial in their tummy will help them stay satiated longer and while they may wake from habit, they will not be hungry.
Starting Solid Foods with Baby: Suggestions for introducing healthy fats and proteins
- coconut oil
- ground chicken
- ground turkey
- quinoa cereal*
*Tip: Try quinoa cereal as an alternative to rice cereal or oats. Quinoa is also a protein and is very gentle on the tummy. Whole Foods Market also carries one by Ancient Harvest that is in the adult quick oats aisle. It is called Quinoa Flakes. Another brand is Happy Baby—they make a Quinoa and Oats Cereal.
Solids is a wonderful and new adventure in parenting--so have fun with it!
“Babies are born knowing how to eat. They want to put things in their mouth and to touch, taste, and explore. Let’s let them.”
– Jenny Best, founder, Solid Starts
Still Feeling Uncertain?
My Favorites: Starting Solid Foods with Baby
- One of my favorite resources on this topic is Solid Starts. This is a one stop shop for all things solid foods. Take 15% off any purchase by using my code: HEALY15.
- Baby Foode is the creation of one fiercely mama determined to find something better for her baby. She has now written three books over the last year to help parents along the way – Little Foodie, Little Bento and Whole Food Baby. Check out her website for all kinds of meal-time inspiration.
- If you are feeling lost on what to feed your baby or little one, check out Feeding Littles. Industry-leading feeding professionals, Megan and Judy, have been on the forefront of teaching pediatric feeding for a combined 40+ years, and they have worked with thousands of clients in making mealtime successful. They have online courses available on-demand so you can learn from them when it’s best for you. Check out their blog posts to learn about everything from bottle feeding to super helpful Family Meal Kits̬which remove any guesswork from your meal planning!
Photo credit (and my sincere gratitude for sharing your creative gifts) to hui sang c/o Unsplash.