Will weaning help my baby sleep through?

So, you have had a rollercoaster ride with your little one entering the world and you feel like you have found your feet and just got some kind of routine going only to see that the following week it all changes and that is before even entering the weaning process! Many parents rush weaning in order to attempt to fulfil their baby’s hunger – maybe your child (like mine did) feeds every 2-3 hours and still has a night feed. Although this can be demanding on the parent and hard when you want to go out and about this is not a reason to start weaning early, if your child is not already sleeping through then weaning will not all of a sudden make them. There are a number of reasons for this; your child may not have learnt to self settle on their own yet, they may associate having a feed with sleep, their nap times may be making them overtired, the list goes on.

Weaning is a super exciting time for you and your baby, but it can also be extremely daunting. Beginning to feed your baby food comes with a huge array of questions; what foods can you offer, how do you prepare and store them, how do you reduce milk and of course on top of this the worry about whether this process will impede upon sleeping habits. It is important to note that the Department of Health recommend that you start weaning your baby at 6 months, prior to this they should be exclusively on breast milk or formula. Solids should not be given to babies any earlier than 17 weeks (4 months.) There a typical cues to look out for when deciding if your baby is ready to wean or not; can they sit up and hold their head confidently? Do they take an active interest in you when you are eating? Do they imitate chewing? If so, these can be signals your baby is ready to start their journey of tasting amazing new things! It is important to note that if your baby sleeps through and suddenly starts to wake up in the night again it does not necessarily mean they are suddenly hungry. They will take what milk they need either breast milk or formula throughout the day and if they have previously been doing this and sleeping through don’t be fooled into thinking they are suddenly hungry, there could be a number of reasons for their waking; new milestones, changes in routine, teething and even not being able to self settle again. My advice would be if you know they can sleep through exclusively without milk then do not reintroduce milk, they do not suddenly develop hunger in the night again. Be careful of moving onto weaning because they have started waking up all of sudden, wait and make sure you know the time is right to move them on.

When you start your weaning journey, seek advice from a professional on how to go about it whether it be led by yourself or you choose baby led weaning. Start off by introducing one cooked and pureed vegetable or fruit at a time. If your baby has allergies then seek professional guidance on how to go about this process before you start (I had to do this with advice from a paediatrician and dietician as my little boy has CMPA.) When you introduce your first foods do it alongside your milk feed and offer no more than a couple of baby spoonfuls at a time. Over the week you can increase this to morning and afternoon and when you and baby are confident enough, you can begin to reduce milk slightly and offer more food at what would be a normal mealtime in the day, starting with breakfast first. You can get some great cereals that you can mix your milk with so you know they are still getting the recommended amount. Baby rice is also a great way of introducing new textures to a baby by mixing their milk it is a gentle approach so they are not overwhelmed by a sudden change of texture and taste. It is likely your baby may be a little fussy with having a new consistency in their mouth, they may at first spit it out, they may love it, either way don’t be disheartened just try again on another feed. Make sure you are still offering the required amount of milk to your baby. You can use the link below for advice on introducing weaning: PDF Download - Solid Foods tips sheet: Click here

Be sure to vary the food that you offer so your baby gets a wide taste of new flavours, take it at a slow pace and expect lots of mess! I highly recommend a plastic bib with a pocket on the bottom to catch any dribbles! Weaning will bring you a lot of laughs but don’t start the process to try to get your baby to sleep through, it won’t work.

Lastly, remember to never leave your baby unattended with food.

Laura, Babbaboo Sleep.

You can get more information and help from:
www.nhs.uk/start4life

Other helpful websites:
thousanddays.org
www.nice.org.uk

Back to Learn page