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Babies who are introduced to solid food early sleep better
12 July 2018, 03:27 | Randall Craig
'Babies given solid food sooner sleep better'
Babies given solid food plus breast milk from three months sleep better than those who are exclusively breastfed, according to a new study. Parents' perceptions of a sleep problem with their child were correlated with maternal and global sleep quality of life, and perception of infant sleep problems correlated with nighttime sleep duration and night waking frequency, the authors wrote.
The study by King's College, London, and St George's, University of London, found that moving that timeline up by three months has positive effects for both moms and babies. The parents were asked to fill surveys each month until the baby was one year, then every three months until the baby was three years old.
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.
Lack said a crucial finding is that parents who were asked to exclusively breastfeed had nearly twice the odds of reporting a serious problem with their child's sleep than those who were asked to introduce their babies to solid food early.
Critics say that the improvements in sleep were small and that introducing solids too early could reduce the amount of breastmilk babies consume.
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.
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. 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.
However Professor Amy Brown of Swansea University, whose research includes weaning of babies, said the benefits revealed by the study were "minimal" in real-world terms, and that other research showed no rewards for early introduction of solids.
Do you think solids help a baby to sleep better? The babies were fed a variety, including fruit, vegetables, and grains. Offer your baby different types of food and it can take a lot of time to accept by the baby as the new food.
What to feed babies in the first six months of life can be controversial, with many mothers feeling judged if they are unable to breastfeed successfully, and guilty if they introduce bottles or solids. If there is any doubt about what's best for your baby, please seek advice from your doctor or health professional'.
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