Babies who eat solid food early sleep better

Avatar By Joseph Scalise | 2 years ago

Babies who switch to solid food at an early age tend to sleep for longer periods of time and wake up less during the night than those that only breastfeed, a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics reports.

This discovery comes from a team of international researchers, who set out to determine if a baby’s diet could affect its sleeping pattern. They found that children who were moved to solid foods within the first 6 months slept much better than those who were only breastfed during that same period.

In the study, parents of 1,300 3-month old babies from England and Wales were asked to either breastfeed for six months or to start giving their baby solid food at around three months.

Once the infants turned 12 months old, the parents then completed an online questionnaire that asked questions about how often the babies were fed, how long they were breastfed, and how much they slept. They then did a follow up survey every three months until the babies reached the age of three.

The final results suggested that the babies who moved onto solid foods earlier got a much better night’s sleep — waking up less and napping 16.6 extra minutes a night — than the ones who were only breastfed until they were six months old.

That difference greatly helped the mothers, who experienced less sleep problems as well.

“We show for the first time in a randomized clinical trial setting that, consistent with the belief of many parents, the early introduction of solids does have a small but significant effect on sleep characteristics,” lead author Michael Perkin, senior lecturer in clinical epidemiology St. George’s, University of London, told Newsweek.

These new findings are significant because they contradict current recommendations by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which suggests parents should not move babies onto until after they reach six months.

However, as interesting as the study is, the team states that parents should not go feed their infants solid food right away. Rather, they should go at a pace their baby is comfortable with. That will allow for a natural transition.

The trial builds on previous studies and could alter the way scientists view the now-outdated breastfeeding guidelines.

“We expect to see updated recommendations on infant feeding in the not too distant future,” said Mary Fewtrell, nutrition lead for the Royal College of Pediatrics who was not involved in the research, according to The Guardian