Babies should be fed solid food from just 3 MONTHS

Feeding your baby solids early may help them sleep, study suggests

A study has recently shown that babies who are given solid food and breast milk from the age of three months will sleep better than those babies who are just fed with breast milk.

A total of 94 per cent (1,225) of them completed the three-year questionnaire, among which 608 from the exclusive breastfeeding group, and 607 from the early introduction of food group. Half the babies were exclusively breastfed until six months of age, the other half were introduced to a variety of foods including some that are associated with allergies, including peanuts and eggs.

"While the official guidance is that starting solid foods won't make babies more likely to sleep through the night, this study suggests that this advice needs to be re-examined in light of the evidence we have gathered".

What they found was that babies introduced to solids earlier slept, on average, for two hours more per week from six months of age.

The new data come from the Enquiring About Tolerance (EAT) study, which involved 1,303 infants and was created to investigate whether introducing solid foods earlier might help prevent food allergies.

"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.

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".

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. "If the baby's sleeping poorly, the mother's quality of life is very clearly affected".

That report knocked away one of the main justifications for delayed introduction of solids, and a year ago health authorities in the U.S. changed their guidance by recommending the most at-risk children should be given peanuts as early as four months.

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Currently, The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months.

They also woke less frequently.

Do you think solids help a baby to sleep better? Babies who sleep more may wind up consuming less breast milk, he added.

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.

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

"However, the evidence base for the existing advice on exclusive breastfeeding is over 10 years old, and is now being reviewed in the United Kingdom by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition".

Despite the official piece of advice, about 75% of mothers gave solid food to their babies before five months - 26% of the babies were waking up at night frequently because of this reason.

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

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