A new study may have the key for new parents struggling to put their babies to sleep. Researchers suggest that weaning babies onto solid foods sooner will help them sleep longer and wake less.
Solid Food For Babies
The researchers from the study wanted to test whether a baby's diet could affect the sleeping pattern. The researchers discovered that children who progressed to solid foods did not have any issues with sleep compared to the babies who were only breastfed for the first six months of their lives. These new findings go against what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest — that babies should only begin to eat solid foods when they reach 6 months.
The study consists of over 1,000 3-month-old babies from England and Wales who's parents were asked to either introduce solid food to their babies' diet or follow the standard protocol and breastfeed their children. The parents answered questionnaires until their child reached 12 months old, and then continued to every 3 months until the child turned 3 years old.
The questions included how often or how long the baby was breastfed, how much they slept, and how often the baby was fed.
Breast Milk Or Regular Food?
The study revealed that the babies who were fed with both solid foods and breast milk slept longer and had fewer sleeping issues than the ones who only breastfed for six months. While organizations such as the World Health Organization and NHS have advised mothers to give their children solid foods around 6 months old, these new findings are now being considered as well.
"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," Professor Gideon Lack, from King's College in London, stated.
The study showed that the differences between the two groups became more apparent in 6-month-olds. The group that was fed solids slept almost two hours longer per week at night, and waking up throughout the night is less frequent.
Prior to this study, some mothers were already giving their infants solid foods before they even reach 6 months old. According to the Infant Feeding Survey conducted in 2010, 75 percent of mothers from Britain gave their babies solid foods before they reached 5 months, with 26 percent claiming the reason for this is that their baby wakes up in the middle of the night.
Experts suggest that some of the first solid foods parents can introduce to their babies are those that can be mashed such as potato, yam, or carrot.