Solid foods may help infants sleep longer, says study

Thursday, 12 Jul, 2018

Gideon added, "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". They analyzed these babies over the period of 2009 to 2012.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), the American Academy of Pediatrics and other groups recommend exclusive breastfeeding for an infant's first six months, after which solids can be introduced.

Good news for exhausted new parents everywhere: A well-fed baby is a sleepier baby.

The study found that infants in the group which had solids introduced early slept longer and woke less frequently than those infants that followed standard advice to exclusively breastfeed to around six months of age.

Writing in the journal Jama Pediatrics, Lack and a team of researchers behind the study say while there is a common belief that eating solid food helps a baby to sleep better - with one NHS survey suggesting most mothers give their child food before five months - many sources of advice for new parents, including the NHS and the National Childbirth Trust, recommend that parents should wait until six months before introducing solids.

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

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. Parsnip, potato, yam, sweet potato, carrot, apple or pear are the example of a healthy food that you can feed it to your baby.

The early introduction group was found to be sleeping for a quarter of an hour (16.6 minutes) longer per night (almost 2 hours longer per week) when compared to the other group, and the frequency of waking up in the night decreased from just over twice per night to 1.74.

Some babies like to start with mashed foods. However, there was no difference in the amount of daytime sleep between the two groups, the authors noted.

A Food Standards Agency spokesman said: 'This further analysis. could be of interest to parents, however, there are limitations to the findings.

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.

"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".

Michael R. Perkin, Ph.D., from the University of London, and colleagues conducted a population-based randomized trial involving 1,303 exclusively breastfed 3-month-old infants.

'We expect to see updated recommendations on infant feeding in the not too distant future'. If there is any doubt about what's best for your baby, please seek advice from your doctor or health professional'.