Babies who are fed solid food in addition to breast milk from the age of three months sleep better than those who are solely breastfed, a new study has revealed.
Publishing their findings in JAMA Pediatrics, the authors of the study noted the following: “The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months. However, 75% of British mothers introduce solids before 5 months and 26% report infant waking at night as influencing this decision.”
Experts say women should still heed WHO’s advice, but that the guidelines are currently under review.
For the study, the researchers from King's College London, and St George's, University of London, split 1,303 three-month-old infant into two groups: one that was solely breastfed and one that also had solid foods incorporated from the age of three months.
The babies’ parents were then surveyed to see if the addition of solid foods had made a difference to the sleep patterns of the infants and the mothers’ quality of life. The parents of the babies who were given solid foods from three months reported that their children slept longer, woke less frequently and had far fewer serious sleep problems.
Prof Gideon Lack from King's College, London, said: "The results of this research support the widely held parental view that early introduction of solids improves sleep.
"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."
[Related reading: Bottle feeding is a woman’s right, midwives advised]