Giving Babies Solid Foods Sooner Could Help Improve Their Sleep

Maricruz Casares
Julio 12, 2018

The study, which was analysed by researchers from the USA and the United Kingdom, has proposed feeding your baby solids as early as three months old will help them sleep for longer.

More than 1300 healthy breastfed three-month-olds were split randomly into two groups in one the babies were exclusively breastfed until they were six months old - as current guidelines recommend - while children in the other group were breastfed and given solid foods, including peanuts, eggs and wheat, from the age of three months, in addition to breastfeeding.

"While the official guidance is that starting solid foods won't make babies more likely to sleep through the night, this study suggests that this advice needs to be re-examined in light of the evidence we have gathered".

Child food experts at University College London advised parents to choose bitter vegetables such as broccoli, spinach or cauliflower as their baby's first solid food. They also woke around two fewer times at night per week at six months and had just over 9% fewer incidents of waking up during the night over the course of the study.

Researchers from the United Kingdom and USA looked at data collected as part of a clinical trial exploring whether early introduction of certain foods could reduce the chance of an infant developing an allergy to them.

The authors explained the "commonly held belief" that introducing solid foods earlier helps babies sleep better.

They also found that families in the standard introduction group were more likely than those in the early introduction group to report a small problem (OR 1.2, 95% CI 1.05-1.41) or a very serious problem (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.22-2.61) with their child's sleep.

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While the practice did not provide for totally uninterrupted nights of sleep, the study of 1,303 children in England and Wales between 2009 and 2012 showed that babies given solids earlier than now recommended did improve their sleep patterns.

Parents then filled in online questionnaires every month until their baby was 12 months old, and then every 3 months until they were three years old.

Co author of the study Dr Michael Perkin, from St George's, University of London, said: "Given that infant sleep directly affects parental quality of life, even a small improvement can have important benefits". If there is any doubt about what's best for your baby, please seek advice from your doctor or health professional'.

At the six month mark, both groups of children were eating solid foods.

Professor Mary Fewtrell, nutrition lead the the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) underlined that infant feeding was being reviewed.

"We expect to see updated recommendations on infant feeding in the not too distant future".

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