Breastfeeding is best for babies, but what about their sleep-deprived parents?

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

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

The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, found that the babies in the second group had fewer sleep problems and mothers reported improved quality of life.

In the other group, the children were breastfed AND given some solid foods such as peanuts, eggs, and wheat from 16 weeks of age.

Researchers then tracked the health and behaviour of all the babies for a period of three years via questionnaires filled out by parents.

More than 1300 healthy breastfed three-month-old babies were divided into two groups at random.

A study has recently shown that babies who are given solid food and breast milk from the age of three months will sleep better than those babies who are just fed with breast milk.

One finding deemed crucial by Lack was that the parents who exclusively breastfed for those first six months were twice as likely to report an issue with their child's sleep than those in the solids group.

The researchers' findings were limited to babies' sleep duration, not on what is nutritionally best for babies. However, a previous US study found that while the majority of babies are being introduced to solids sooner, parents are doing this in place of breast milk or formula, rather than as an addition.

The results, based on data from 1,162 infants and taking into account factors such birth weight and whether children had eczema, reveal babies introduced to solids from three months slept, on average, two hours more a week at the age of six months, than the babies who were only breastfed.

The NHS Choices website says: "Starting solid food won't make your baby any more likely to sleep through the night".

Dr Clare Llewellyn and Dr Hayley Syrad, who have researched baby eating habits for over a decade, said the first foods introduced to children at around six months should be bitter vegetables, as these are the foods most commonly disliked by children.

They also woke less frequently. "Given that infant sleep directly affects parental quality of life, even a small improvement can have important benefits".

Professor Mary Fewtrell, nutrition lead the the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) underlined that infant feeding was being reviewed.

For now, women are still being encouraged to wait six months before giving their baby solid foods, but given the research, that's advice we might see change in the future.

'However, the evidence base for the existing advice on exclusive breastfeeding is over ten years old, and is now being reviewed in the United Kingdom by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition and in the EU by the European Food Safety Authority.

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