Babies fed solid foods from three months sleep better, study claims

young baby eating food

Babies who are given a combination of solid foods and breast milk from three months sleep better than those who are just fed breast milk, according to a brand new study

The research, carried out by King's College London and St George's University of London, surveyed more than 1,300 three-month-olds and found that babies eating a more varied diet slept for up to 16 minutes longer per night.

They also woke less frequently and experienced half the rate of sleep problems, such as crying and irritability, than those who stuck exclusively to breast milk until hitting the six month mark – potentially giving parents an extra two hours of sleep per week.

The NHS currently recommends that you should should start weaning your baby around six months because they get most of the nutrients they need from breast milk or first infant formula, and your baby could pick up an infection from food or develop a food allergy.

But those guidelines are hotly contested by certain parties and these findings, published in medical journal JAMA Pediatrics, suggest otherwise.

Lead author of the study, Professor Gideon Lack, 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.”

Co-lead author, Dr Michael Perkin, added: ‘’We found a small but significant increase in sleep duration and less frequent waking at night. Given that infant sleep directly affects parental quality of life, even a small improvement can have important benefits."

Despite current advice suggesting all mothers should breastfeed exclusively for around the first six months of life, the 2010 Infant Feeding Survey found that just 1% of mothers achieve that.

According to those findings, 75% of mothers who decided to introduce solids by the time their baby was five-months-old did so due to the belief that their babies were no longer satisfied with milk feeds, while others felt that their children were mature enough to start weaning.