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Will Solid Food Help Baby Sleep?

One of the most common ‘tricks in the book’ when it comes to trying to get babies to sleep through the night is the old cereal in the bottle trick. I am sure you have heard of it or even attempted it?

It has been used for generations of families and I do understand why parents go for it. As an adult, I know that sleeping when hungry is very difficult.

Flip it to the other side of that and we know that when we are really nice and full, it is almost impossible not to feel sleepy.

Therefore, the idea of the fact that cereal in your Little Darling’s bottle should take them longer to digest than breastmilk or formula alone, seems reasonable.

For any parent who is experiencing a child who is not sleeping well is probably very keen to find the root cause of the lack of sleep, and will more than likely try anything they think is safe and potentially effective in order to solve the issue of sleepless nights.

Sadly, for most parents who use attempt this trick will find that, even if it’s works at the start, the results are short lived, and here is the reason why...

When your Little Darling reaches a certain age and weight (I will use 6 months here as this tends to be the average) waking in the night is not about hunger and foods. I have spoken with parents that are waking up and feeding their babies multiple times a night. They will claim that the baby is hungry.

Yes, the baby might have nursed a little each time they were offered a feed in the night but that does not mean that they were actually hungry.

It is more likely that the baby has become dependent on feeding as a tool in order to go to sleep.

If a baby is fed each time they have woken up for the first 6 months of their lives, it makes complete sense that they can’t get back to sleep without that familiar step in their falling to sleep routine.

Cereal in the bottle works on the basis that children fall asleep at bedtime and do not then wake up until morning but that’s not how sleep works. For both babies and adults this is simply just not the case. We all will through the night cycle in and out of deep sleep, and at the end of each and every cycle, we usually wake up. Probably not fully, but we do attain a certain level of consciousness.

In our Little Darlings this sleep cycle is usually around 45 minutes so even if they are having a good night, that will mean that they are going to wake up a lot. If the only thing they know how to get to sleep with is by feeding, they are going to cry for your attention and to be fed.

If this waking is nothing to do with being hungry, then how can you help them sleep through the night?

The solution to the issue, not the “hack” or quick fix, but the actual remedy, is teaching your baby to fall asleep independently.

I know it might seem like a lot to ask a 6 month old but I can assure you that the vast majority of babies, they are capable of learning the life long skill of independent sleep.

It is a natural skill for them to learn and they typically take to it faster than you would expect.

Most babies will find a way to self soothe if we give them the space and opportunity to try and learn this skill. Let them discover what strategies work for them on their own and it can take time to master.

I am not saying that you should leave your baby crying without any comfort or attention. You can tend to them, let them know that you are nearby but I would recommend that you do not rock, nurse or cuddle them back to sleep. Let them find a way to fall back to sleep on their own. That way, when they wake again in the night they will have learnt new skills to enable them to get back to sleep on their own.


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