Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Medicine | By Douglas Stevenson

Early Solid Food Tied to Better Sleep for Baby

Early Solid Food Tied to Better Sleep for Baby

Of the 1,303 infants who took part in the study, 94 per cent (1,225), completed the three-year questionnaire - 608 from the exclusive breastfeeding group and 607 from the early introduction of food group.

"To our knowledge, 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 impact on sleep characteristics", the authors wrote.

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.

Babies are wonderful gifts to families, but one thing that can definitely drive new parents insane is the sleeping habits of infants.

The "most clinically important" finding, Dr Perkin said, was that parents of babies who started earlier on solid foods were significantly less likely to report that their child had a serious sleep problem.

Researchers in the United Kingdom looked at more than 1,300 three-month old infants. After six months babies in both groups were eating a range of solids.

And he said that some babies who frequently cough or splutter when drinking milk may struggle to eat solids - and for those children solids should not be introduced too early. But this study will certainly spark a larger debate on when to introduce solids and hopefully lead to further research to help tease it out.

A study by King's College London and St. George's University of London in the United Kingdom have found that babies who are given solid food along with breast milk right from three months of age sleep better than the babies who are exclusively breastfed.

Most pediatricians recommend that babies be exclusively breastfed until six months of age when solids are slowly introduced, but a new study in JAMA Pediatrics says feeding solids to babies at an earlier age may help them sleep better.

US pediatrician Grosso agreed, saying the study could prompt a new look at guidelines.

First foods can include mashed or soft cooked fruit and vegetables - such as parsnip, potato, yam, sweet potato, carrot, apple or pear. At this point, infants in the EIG slept for 16.6 minutes longer per night and the frequency of night waking decreased from 2.01 to 1.74 wakings per night in the intention-to-treat analysis. However, there was no difference in the amount of daytime sleep between the two groups, the authors noted. She said that "while there was a short period of time in which the infants [in the study] seemed to sleep better, it can be argued that the benefits [of early solid foods] do not outweigh the risks and possible future negative effects".

Responding to the study, Prof Mary Fewtrell, nutrition lead at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, pointed out that guidelines for infant feeding are now being reviewed.

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