Babies fed with solids early sleep longer, wake less frequently

Leslie Hanson
July 11, 2018

More than 1300 healthy breastfed three-month-olds were split randomly into two groups in one the babies were exclusively breastfed until they were six months old - as current guidelines recommend - while children in the other group were breastfed and given solid foods, including peanuts, eggs and wheat, from the age of three months, in addition to breastfeeding.

One group was encouraged to exclusively breastfeed for around six months.

The Government now advises mothers to feed babies exclusively with breastmilk until they are at least six months, and only then gradually introduce solids.

Parents completed online questionnaires every month until their baby was 12 months, and then every three months up to three years of age.

"In a randomized clinical trial, the early introduction of solids into the infant's diet was associated with longer sleep duration, less frequent waking at night, and a reduction in reported very serious sleep problems", the report said.

Researchers from the United Kingdom and USA looked at data collected as part of a clinical trial exploring whether early introduction of certain foods could reduce the chance of an infant developing an allergy to them.

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

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.

But they said it was unlikely that the bias would have persisted beyond six months.


It also resulted in babies sleeping two hours more each week and reduced the number of times they woke up in the night.

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'.

However Professor Amy Brown of Swansea University, whose research includes weaning of babies, said the benefits revealed by the study were "minimal" in real-world terms, and that other research showed no rewards for early introduction of solids.

A Food Standards Agency spokesman said: 'This further analysis. could be of interest to parents, however, there are limitations to the findings.

An FSA spokesperson said: "We are encouraging all women to stick to existing advice to exclusively breastfeed for around the first six months of age". If there is any doubt about what's best for your baby, please seek advice from your doctor or health professional'.

The NHS and World Health Organization now advise to wait until around six months before introducing solid foods, but these guidelines are now under review.

'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".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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