Watching your baby sleep is one of the most moving experiences you can have as a new mom. Not only do they look like tiny cherubs while they blissfully snooze, but you finally get to take a break. Of course, getting your little darlings to go to sleep is not always as easy as it sounds and multiple overnight feedings and wakings can really take the sparkle out of the early months of parenting, right?
Now a new study suggests that there may be a pretty simple way to encourage an infant to sleep longer and wake less often: feed them solid food. A study published in JAMA Pediatrics this month found that introducing baby food sooner may be key to good sleep, although that flies in the face of medical advice that breast milk or formula is best until the six-month mark.
A clinical trial in England and Wales separated about 1,300 infants aged 3 months into two groups, as USA Today reports: One group ate solid foods starting at 3 months old and the other was exclusively breast fed until 6 months. The researchers found that babies who began eating solid foods at 3 months woke less frequently and slept longer than the babies who started eating at 6 months.
It should be noted there are many who believe that introducing solid food early may diminish interest in breast milk, which is risky because of its numerous beneficial qualities. Some call it “liquid gold.” The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months.
Of course, there are also other things you can do to get babies to dreamland sooner including swaddling, rocking and treating them to your best rendition of “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”
But traditional wisdom, the kind passed down across generations of bleary-eyed new parents, has long advised that a full tummy makes for a better night’s sleep. Now there’s some science to suggest that grandma may have been on to something.