Being the parent of a newborn is a life-changing experience in many ways, one of which is saying goodbye to a good night’s sleep, at least for a while. Humans have adjusted to that sacrifice, the first of many they’ll make for their little ones. But a new study suggests there may be a simple way for you and your baby to get more sleep at night.
British researchers have found that babies introduced to solid food at three months sleep better and wake up less frequently than babies who were solely breastfed for their first six months.
The study looked at nearly 1,400 exclusively breastfed 3-month-olds in England and Wales. They were split into two groups, with one group of moms continuing to only breastfeed while the rest were asked to introduce solid foods. Parents completed online questionnaires every month until their baby was a year old, and then every three months up to age 3.
The results, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, showed infants in the solid food group slept about a quarter-hour longer each night, which added up to nearly two hours over the course of a week. Also, they woke up less each night than the other group.
Perhaps as a result of more sleep, the study showed greater maternal well-being, which to led a better quality of life, for moms in the solid-food group.
When to start introducing solid foods to a baby’s diet has been a topic of discussion among mothers since the dawn of time, and opinions vary for a host of reasons. The researchers said they hope this study adds to the conversation and helps tired moms get a little more sleep at night. While every waking moment with your baby is precious, every extra minute of sleep is golden, too.