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12 July 2018, 03:27 | Melissa Porter
'Babies given solid food sooner sleep better'
The study, which was analysed by researchers from the USA and the United Kingdom, has proposed feeding your baby solids as early as three months old will help them sleep for longer. Parents' perceptions of a sleep problem with their child were correlated with maternal and global sleep quality of life, and perception of infant sleep problems correlated with nighttime sleep duration and night waking frequency, the authors wrote.
Parents then filled in online questionnaires every month until their baby was 12 months old, and then every 3 months until they were three years old. The mothers of the babies in one of the groups were asked to give the infants solids like wheat or white fish before 6 months whereas the mothers of the babies in the other group were asked to feed only breast milk.
Infants in the group that began solid foods at 3 months slept longer, woke less frequently at night and had fewer serious sleep problems than those who were breast-fed exclusively until 6 months of age, the researchers reported July 9 in JAMA Pediatrics.
"There was an extremely strong relationship between mother's quality of life and infant sleep, which you anticipate", he added.
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.
However, doctors still are emphasizing the importance of continued breastfeeding, in addition to the introduction of solid food. She suggests maintaining a safe sleep space for baby by using a co-sleeper (which attaches to the parents' bed) so that it's easier for moms to get back to sleep after nursing.
"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".
The type of solid food provided didn't appear to make a difference.
"We expect to see updated recommendations on infant feeding in the not too distant future".
Soft fruits, like peach or melon, or baby rice or baby cereal mixed with your baby's usual milk.
What to feed babies in the first six months of life can be controversial, with many mothers feeling judged if they are unable to breastfeed successfully, and guilty if they introduce bottles or solids.
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