Study suggests weaning babies sooner onto solids can aid sleep
11 July, 2018, 14:50 | Author: Kara Nash
The results of this research support the widely held parental view that early introduction of solids improves sleep, said the paper's lead author Gideon Lack with King's College London.
Writing in the journal Jama Pediatrics, Lack and a team of researchers behind the study say while there is a common belief that eating solid food helps a baby to sleep better - with one NHS survey suggesting most mothers give their child food before five months - many sources of advice for new parents, including the NHS and the National Childbirth Trust, recommend that parents should wait until six months before introducing solids.
Of course, let's not forget the official advice, and that is to breastfeed your child for his six months of life - exclusively.
The new data come from the EAT study, which involved 1,303 infants and was created to investigate whether introducing solid foods earlier might help prevent food allergies.
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 EAT study showed that introducing small amounts of allergenic foods to younger babies helped reduce food allergy risks.
"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.
That report knocked away one of the main justifications for delayed introduction of solids, and past year health authorities in the USA changed their guidance by recommending the most at-risk children should be given peanuts as early as four months.
A Food Standards Agency spokesman said: 'This further analysis. could be of interest to parents, however, there are limitations to the findings.
"At the RCPCH, we recommend that mothers should be supported to breastfeed their healthy-term infant exclusively for up to six months, with solid foods not introduced before four months".
'We expect to see updated recommendations on infant feeding in the not too distant future'.
First foods can include mashed or soft cooked fruit and vegetables - such as parsnip, potato, yam, sweet potato, carrot, apple or pear.
A baby's first food should not be mashed banana or rice, with parents advised to wean their children on broccoli. Other babies need a little longer to get used to new textures so may prefer smooth or blended foods on a spoon at first. It can take lots of attempts before your baby will accept a new food or texture.
For the latest United Kingdom research, the parents of half the children were encouraged to feed their babies solids, such as white fish or wheat, before six months, while the other half were told to stick to breast milk alone until that time. As part of the study the team also looked the impact on other measures, including growth and sleep. If there is any doubt about what's best for your baby, please seek advice from your doctor or health professional'.
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