Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Medical | By

How to get baby to sleep more: Feed solids early, study suggests

How to get baby to sleep more: Feed solids early, study suggests

In one group, the babies were exclusively breastfed until they were six months old.

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.

Researchers then tracked the health and behaviour of all the babies for a period of three years via questionnaires filled out by parents.

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.

More than 1300 healthy breastfed three-month-old babies were divided into two groups at random.

Some mothers have long suspected it, and now a new study confirms that babies may sleep better when they begin eating solid foods earlier.

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.

The researchers from King's College, London, and the University of London admitted it was possible that mothers giving their babies solids may have responded to their questions in a more positive manner, having expected a positive effect, since many parents already believe that the practice encourages better sleep.


The babies who ate solid foods during the study, slept about 17 minutes longer, which can mean up to two extra hours of sleep per week.

More significantly, the group of babies on early solids reported half the rate of the type of serious sleep problems, such as crying and irritability, which make it less likely that parents are going to get back to sleep.

"To our knowledge, 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 impact on sleep characteristics", the authors wrote.

They also woke less frequently.

"Given that infant sleep directly affects parental quality of life, even a small improvement can have important benefits", says Dr. Michael Perkin, a co-author of the study from St George's, University of London.

'We are encouraging all women to stick to existing advice to exclusively breastfeed for around the first six months of age.

Professor Mary Fewtrell, nutrition lead the the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) underlined that infant feeding was being reviewed.

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