Having an infant in the house includes sleepless nights and tiresome days. A newborn infant spends his/her time mostly sleeping but the mommy is deprived of all luxuries of sleeping or relaxing once the baby is born. That’s owing to the never-ending breastfeeding sessions, diaper changing routines and haphazard sleep routines of the infant that prop up one after the other. Infants love to breastfeed every now and then clinging onto their mommy tightly, enjoying the love and affection they get while breastfeeding and filling their tiny stomachs that require a refill often. The world health organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding of an infant for the first six months of life after which the baby can be slowly introduced to solid foods. But now, a new research has come up with an alternate feeding pattern for these infants.
Multiples of Three Sounds Good
Anytime a child cries its only one of the two reasons quoted by elders-hunger or sleep. While the same has been advised for newborns too we do not have much option but to feed the baby with milk. The continuing sleepless nights can trouble the entire family along with the baby!
A study published in the JAMA journal states that introducing babies to solid foods after the first three months improves baby’s sleep by a small but significant number and also leads to fewer waking up sessions in between the sleep sessions compared to babies who start feeding on solids later in life. The study recruited more than 1300 babies who were healthy, full-term, 3-month-old infants and were exclusively breastfed. The babies’ mothers were divided into two groups. One group was asked to feed the baby exclusively with breast milk until the sixth month while the other group was also asked to breastfeed along with introducing solid foods for the first week of study. The research team asked the group to introduce allergy-provoking foods such as cow’s milk, peanuts, sesame, white fish and meat during the second week of study.
Moms in the first group introduced solid foods to infants only during the 23rdweek after birth while moms in the second group introduces solids starting at the 16thweek of the infant. While there was no difference found between the two groups in terms of solid food intake at the end of the infant’s sixth month there were significant differences found in the infant’s sleeping pattern right after the first year of birth. Children fed on solids slept for at least 7 minutes longer every night starting from the 5thmonth of age past their first birthday. The difference accurately summed up to almost 16-17 minutes of extra sleep every night which meant the parents could almost sleep for an extra two hours every week. The solid food-fed babies also slept quite undisturbed comparatively, woke less frequently and created much lesser troubles.
Results without Prejudice
Research team found that there were no specific foods associated with increased sleep and the mothers in the research group fed their children with everything ranging from fruits and vegetables to rice and peanuts. The results also prove that sleep patterns and timings are established since early years maybe even right from infancy. There are more options for preparing healthy and interesting baby foods at www.firsteatright.com which can be of utmost help during your baby’s infant years.
While the study proves the benefits of introducing solid foods right from an early age many other researchers and physicians are concerned over the declined availability of breast milk for the infant. Breastmilk offers a plethora of benefits and limiting its consumption might fail to nourish the child with plentiful nutrients needed for growth and development. Its best to stick with WHO guidelines and feed the child only with breastmilk up to the baby’s sixth month of age. Improved parental sleep and quality of life is important but does it surpass the child’s needs of various nutrients and immunity power available in breastmilk remains an unanswered question that needs further probing.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.