A study by King’s College London and St. George’s University of London in the UK 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 solely breastfed. 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.
1,303 exclusively breastfed three-month-olds from England and Wales were involved in the population-based randomized clinical trial. They were divided into two groups where one group was made to follow standard infant feeding advice of exclusively breastfeeding for around six months, reports the research published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
The second group, on the other hand, were asked to introduce solid foods to their infants’ diet along with breastmilk from the age of three months. 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.
94 % of the parents of the 1,303 infants who took part in the study, completed the entire set of questionnaires until three years out of which 608 were from the exclusive breastfeeding group and 607 were from the early introduction of solid food group.
At the end of the study, it was found that infants in the group who had solids introduced early on had a longer sleep and woke up less frequently than those infants who followed standard feeding advice of exclusively breastfeeding up until around six months of age.
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.
“Supports widely held view”
“The results of this research support the widely held parental view that early introduction of solids improves sleep,” Professor Gideon Lack from King’s College London told the publication.
“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,” he added.