Babies given solid food early sleep better, study claims
Babies given solid food early sleep better, study claims
'Babies given solid food sooner sleep better'
12 July, 2018, 04:39
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.
But that doesn't mean you should do it.
More significantly, the group of babies on early solids reported half the rate of the type of serious sleep problems, such as crying and irritability, which make it less likely that parents are going to get back to sleep.
In the other group, the children were breastfed AND given some solid foods such as peanuts, eggs, and wheat from 16 weeks of age.
In addition to decades of research finding breast milk to be nutritionally complete, breastfeeding also has been linked to stronger immunity, healthy brain development, lower obesity risk, reduced Sudden Infant Death Syndrome rates, higher educational achievement and also various maternal health benefits.
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Parents have been told for years to delay introducing solid food, mainly to encourage mothers to continue breastfeeding for as long as possible, but also because scientists thought food introduced earlier could lead to allergies.
Babies who are given solid foods as well as breast milk from the age of three months show signs of sleeping better than infants fed only with milk until they are six months old, a new study carried out in Britain suggests. The second group slept for a quarter of an hour longer every night - that's 2 hours more each week. 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.
"When it comes to the recommendations for mothers and their children, I think it's still important to try to aim for exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months", he added. However, there was no difference in the amount of daytime sleep between the two groups, the authors noted. The difference peaked at six months of age, with the early introduction group sleeping an average of almost 17 minutes longer, and persisted after the infants' first birthday.
They performed a secondary analysis of the Enquiring About Tolerance (EAT) trial, which was originally created to examine the effects of early food introduction on the development of food allergies. It involved more than 1,200 children from England and Wales from age 3 months through 3 years.
Although official advice is to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of a baby's life, experts found that giving solids as well as breast milk from three months can help with an infant's slumber.
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