Feeding your baby solids early may help them sleep, study suggests

Henrietta Brewer
July 12, 2018

Differences between the two groups peaked at six months, with the early introduction group sleeping for a quarter of an hour (16.6 minutes) longer per night (almost two hours longer per week).

Feeding babies solid food from the age of just three months old could help them sleep better and improve their long-term health, a major study has found.

The study was supported by the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA), the Davis Foundation, and the UK National Institute for Health Research.

The study, which was analysed by researchers from the United States and the United Kingdom, has proposed feeding your baby solids as early as three months old will help them sleep for longer.


Offer your baby solid food that helps them to sleep longer and wake for less time, the new study suggested the mothers'.

However, doctors still are emphasizing the importance of continued breastfeeding, in addition to the introduction of solid food.

"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", Lack said in a school news release.

A new study conducted by researchers from King's College London and St. George's University shows that this may not be the case.


Brown urged caution, noting that no difference in waking was seen until after five months, despite one group being introduced to solids from three months, and that self-report of infant sleep by exhausted parents was unlikely to be precise.

Some babies like to start with mashed foods.

Reed said the study also left out one important group: babies who, for whatever reason, are formula-fed. The questionnaires recorded the frequency of food consumption and included questions about breastfeeding frequency and duration, as well as questions about sleep duration. She said that "while there was a short period of time in which the infants [in the study] seemed to sleep better, it can be argued that the benefits [of early solid foods] do not outweigh the risks and possible future negative effects". This further analysis of data collected during EAT could be of interest to parents, however, there are limitations to the findings.

Professor Mary Fewtrell of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said: 'These are interesting findings from a large randomised controlled trial.


"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", Fewtrell continues. The group was split in half, with one group consuming exclusively breastmilk for six months and the other gradually incorporating solid food into their diet along with breastmilk. "At the RCPCH, we recommend that mothers should be supported to breastfeed their healthy-term infant exclusively for up to six months, with solid foods not introduced before four months".

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