Babies Given Solid Foods Sooner May Sleep Better, Study Shows

10 Juillet, 2018, 15:25 | Auteur: Yves Courtet

Feeding babies solids from three months improves their sleep, according to a study that contradicts NHS advice.

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.

But the new study suggests that advice is flawed - and suggests babies do better if solid food is given earlier, alongside breastmilk.

The NHS Choices website claims this is a mistake - and solid foods will not make babies more likely to sleep through the night.

Introducing solid food to babies before they reach six months might offer a small improvement to their sleep, new research suggests.

And the better babies sleep, the better their parents' quality of life and mental health.

Dr. Clare Llewellyn, a lecturer in behavioral science and health at the United Kingdom -based University College London, who did not work on the research, told Newsweek that because mothers reported how long their babies slept, "we can't be certain if the mothers who introduced solids earlier were biased by the commonly held view that infants who are given solids earlier sleep for longer".

"We believe the most likely explanation for our findings of improved sleep is that that these babies are less hungry" said Lack, adding that solid foods might mean less regurgitation or greater feelings of being full.

In the study, in JAMA Pediatrics, giving solids earlier than six months had benefits for mum and baby.

Lack said a crucial finding is that parents who were asked to exclusively breastfeed had nearly twice the odds of reporting a serious problem with their child's sleep than those who were asked to introduce their babies to solid food early.

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His team tracked 1,300 babies who had each been exlusively breastfed until three months. 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.

A baby's first food should not be mashed banana or rice, with parents advised to wean their children on broccoli.

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 found these benefits were long lasting - with the babies who had started eating earlier still sleeping better at one year of age.

Professor Lack said decisions about whether to change the United Kingdom recommendations should stay in the hands of officials, but added: 'Guidelines are already changing around the world'.

Dr. Michael Perkin, co-lead author of the study and senior lecturer in clinical epidemiology St. George's, University of London, told Newsweek: "We show for the first time in a randomized clinical trial setting that, consistent with the belief of many parents, the early introduction of solids does have a small but significant effect on sleep characteristics".

Officials, however, insisted mothers should continue to follow the current advice until new guidance is published.

A Food Standards Agency spokesman said: 'This further analysis. could be of interest to parents, however, there are limitations to the findings. If there is any doubt about what's best for your baby, please seek advice from your doctor or health professional'.

Mary Fewtrell, a professor and a nutrition lead at the United Kingdom -based Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) who was not involved in the study, commented: "These are interesting findings from a large randomized controlled trial".

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