Introducing solids to your baby can be a daunting thing for young parents; however, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the UK National Health Services encourages that moms who exclusively breastfeed do so until about six months before adding solids to a baby’s diet.
Still, new research has emerged stating that introducing solids after three months has also been linked to small, yet significant improvements when it comes to sleeping at night. The study has revealed that this can help with less interruptions in nighttime sleep, versus those little ones who start solids later in babyhood.
CNN recently advised that senior author Dr. Gideon Lack, who also happens to be the head of the Pediatric Allergy department at London’s King College, revealed that the biggest finding was that there was an over 50 percent decrease in the number of families that reported major sleep disturbances for their babies.
As most parents can agree, sleep disturbances can have a huge impact on families during the baby years.
The team gathered over 1,300 babies located in Wales and England during the times of 2009 and 2012. Babies were three months, full-term infants, and healthy, with moms that exclusively breastfed their little ones.
The study team then divided the moms into two groups: one group continued to exclusively breastfeed until six months, while the other breastfed and began to add solid within the first week of the research project – during the second week the group started to add six foods linked to children’s allergies, such as peanuts, cow’s milk, hen’s eggs, white fish, wheat, and sesame.
Data was collected around the babies monthly, until they hit a year, and then every three months until they turned three years old.
After six months, no differences existed when it came to infants as it related to solid foods; however, the results did indicate differences when it came to sleep.
The babies from the second group slept longer as of five months to past year; approximately seven minutes on average nightly, with no longer daytime sleep.
Those babies that had solid food in their diets also woke up less frequently at night, with two or less awakenings weekly, versus the others.
Additionally, those babies in second group also had less ‘severe’ sleep issues, when compared to the other babies. The definition of ‘serious’ sleep issues were left to the caregivers’ discretion, which were generally perceived issues around babies not sleeping long at night or that woke up frequently.
It was noted that the moms in the group that fed their babies solids earlier did not find a specific food that was linked to improved nighttime sleep. The caregivers introduced their babies to a variety of solid foods that included fruits, veggies, rice, as well as items suggested in the allergenic list as time progressed.