Study Suggests Early Introduction To Solid Food Helps Babies Sleep Better

A new study suggests that infants who are introduced to solid foods at an early age might develop healthier sleep habits as they grow older.

The research was conducted by a UK-based team led by pediatric allergy specialist Dr. Gideon Lack. While the original focus was on allergy development in infants, the team decided to explore the relationship between diet and sleep instead. To do this, they enlisted 1,300 3-month-olds whose mother had been exclusively breastfeeding prior to the study. The mothers were then separated into two groups, one who continued to breastfeed until their kids turned 6 months and the other who began to introduce solid foods to supplement breast milk. 

According to the World Health Organization, infants should be breastfed for the first 6 months of their lives. However, Dr. Lack’s study found that introducing solid foods to 3-month-old infants actually served to decrease serious sleep problems,” suggesting swapping out breast milk could help infants develop healthier sleep habits into adolescence. None of the subjects had been diagnosed with sleep disorders, but Lack said that participants reported “small but significant improvements.”

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Note: The content on Sleepopolis is meant to be informative in nature, but shouldn’t be taken as medical advice or take the place of medical advice from a trained professional. If you feel you or your child may be suffering from any sleep disorder or medical condition, please see a healthcare provider. 

Topics of proper childcare are often hotly debated subjects, so to get another perspective on this study, I spoke to infant sleep expert Dr. Kristin Tully who is a Research Associate at Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute. She told me that this study “contrasts with what’s globally known to be optimal infant feeding” and that such research should “never have been conducted.”

“The study is striking and concerning,” she continued, “I’m surprised they received institutional approval to conduct this research starting at 3-months-old. We should be protecting vulnerable populations — especially new mothers and infants. This means a balancing of the whole family’s health, not going against what’s normal for our species.”

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Sarah is the Senior Writer and bedding expert at Sleepopolis. Every week, she personally tests and reviews new pillows, sheet sets, and other sleep accessories. She accompanies every video review with a meticulously detailed article to ensure her audience has all the pertinent info they need for the best shopping experience possible. Perhaps that’s why her fans have dubbed her “the most thorough pillow reviewer on the Internet.” Having tested everything from sleep trackers to mattress toppers, Sarah's expertise runs deep and is always expanding. She received her degree in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College and spends her free time doing stand-up, making pasta, and hanging with her cats.

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