Monday, 22 October, 2018

Study suggests weaning babies sooner onto solids can aid sleep

Feeding your baby solids early may help them sleep, study suggests 'Babies given solid food sooner sleep better'
Samantha Long | 11 July, 2018, 14:49

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

The World Health Organization recommends that parents wait until the age of six months to give their infants solid foods to ensure they get the most benefit from the nutrients found in breast milk or formula.

The results of the study showed that the babies that started eating solid foods sooner slept longer, woke up less, and had fewer sleeping problems than those that consumed exclusively breastmilk for that six month period.

Gideon Lack, who led the research, said: "Our study supports the widely held views by parents that it is more satiating for a baby to have solids".

It's been proven that the babies from the second group, who were breastfed and were given solid food have slept for longer and have woken up less frequently - overall, their sleep problems were nearly non-existent, in comparison with those babies who were only fed with breast milk.

The children's health and behaviour was followed for three years, with their sleep and consumption of solid food tracked by families through questionnaires.

Of course, let's not forget the official advice, and that is to breastfeed your child for his six months of life - exclusively.

They also woke less frequently. "This is quite a well-designed study to actually answer that particular question", he said.

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.

George Clooney hurt in Italian scooter crash
The paper also tweeted a photo of his scooter abandoned by the side of the road with a Mercedes estate vehicle just feet away. George Clooney at the 46th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala Tribute at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on June 7, 2018.

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'.

'We found a small but significant increase in sleep duration and less frequent waking at night.

Experts say women should still heed this recommendation, although it is under review.

At the six month mark, both groups of children were eating solid foods. "Given that infant sleep directly affects parental quality of life, even a small improvement can have important benefits".

She said: "These are interesting findings from a large randomised controlled trial".

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.

Responding to the study, Prof Mary Fewtrell, nutrition lead at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, pointed out that guidelines for infant feeding are now being reviewed. If there is any doubt about what's best for your baby, please seek advice from your doctor or health professional'.

'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.

"We expect to see updated recommendations on infant feeding in the not too distant future".

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