Babies who are given solid food after three months are able to sleep better than those who stick with an exclusively breastmilk diet after that time, a new study suggests.
Traditionally, new moms have been told to keep babies on breastmilk for the first six months of life, and gradually introduce solid foods after six months. The study by King’s College, London, and St George’s, University of London, found that moving that timeline up by three months has positive effects for both moms and babies.
The results of the study were published in JAMA Pediatrics.
In the study, researchers looked at 1,303 infants from when they were three months old to three years. The group was split in half, with one group consuming exclusively breastmilk for six months and the other gradually incorporating solid food into their diet along with breastmilk.
The results of the study showed that the babies that started eating solid foods sooner slept longer, woke up less, and had fewer sleeping problems than those that consumed exclusively breastmilk for that six month period.
“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.
For now, women are still being encouraged to wait six months before giving their baby solid foods, but given the research, that’s advice we might see change in the future.