Wednesday, 18 July, 2018

'Babies given solid food sooner sleep better'

Feeding your baby solids early may help them sleep, study suggests 'Babies given solid food sooner sleep better'
Melissa Porter | 12 July, 2018, 15:31

The babies who were introduced to solid foods earlier than others were able to have a longer, steadier and undisturbed sleep and also suffered fewer serious sleep problems, than those who were fed nothing but breast milk for the first six months.

Babies who began eating solids at 3 months old showed small, but significant, improvements in nighttime sleep when compared with those who started on solids later.

The study by King's College London and St George's, University of London looked at 1303 three-month-olds and divided them into two groups. The parents who participated in the research completed online questionnaires every month for the following 9 months, and then once in every three months up to three years of age.

Infants introduced to solid foods at an earlier age slept longer through the night, while infants with later introduction to solid food were more likely to have sleep problems, researchers found.

Prof Gideon Lack from King's College, London, said in a statement, "The results of this research support the widely held parental view that early introduction of solids improves sleep".

For the latest United Kingdom research, the parents of half the children were encouraged to feed their babies solids, such as white fish or wheat, before six months, while the other half were told to stick to breast milk alone until that time.

Despite the official piece of advice, about 75% of mothers gave solid food to their babies before five months - 26% of the babies were waking up at night frequently because of this reason. She suggests maintaining a safe sleep space for baby by using a co-sleeper (which attaches to the parents' bed) so that it's easier for moms to get back to sleep after nursing.

Although the study seems to prove that introducing solid foods earlier does help with sleeping, the Food Standards Agency which helped fund the study stated that women should still stick to the recommended six-month guidelines because of limitations to the study and the need for further research.

Professor Lack stressed that mothers should continue to breastfeed their babies until they are at least six months, even if solids are introduced earlier.

"However, the evidence base for the existing advice on exclusive breastfeeding is over 10 years old, and is now being reviewed in the United Kingdom by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition", Fewtrell continues.

First foods can include mashed or soft cooked fruit and vegetables - such as parsnip, potato, yam, sweet potato, carrot, apple or pear.

"We expect to see updated recommendations on infant feeding in the not too distant future". Offer your baby different types of food and it can take a lot of time to accept by the baby as the new food.

Plus, the added sleep time associated with solid food may not be as much as some parents think.

Currently, The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months.