Introducing solid foods earlier may improve infant’s sleep, study shows

Amitha Kalaichandran
4 min readAug 9, 2018

Dr. Amitha Kalaichandran MD

Most new parents dimly remember getting 6, 7, or even (gulp) 8 whole hours of uninterrupted sleep. After a new baby arrives, they may wait months — perhaps years — for a restful night’s sleep again. Google searches for infant sleep training are common, and the business of “baby sleep experts,” is booming.

Now a recent study, published in JAMA Pediatrics suggests that introducing infants to solids early on may be associated with improved sleep — and better sleep in baby can mean better sleep for parents.

This study suggests that better sleep for everyone may be related to the food babies eat: introducing solid foods earlier may lead to longer sleep time and fewer nighttime awakenings. The researchers, based at Kings College London, UK, conducted a randomized controlled trial — the Enquiring About Tolerance (EAT) study — originally to look at the early introduction of allergenic foods (cow’s milk, peanut, eggs, sesame, white fish, and wheat) on the later development of allergies.

That study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine few years ago, but in one section of their survey, they asked parents to document sleep habits in their infants. Babies randomized to consume solids before six months of age had 9% fewer nighttime awakenings and slept an average of 17 minutes more than those infants who only received breastmilk before six months of age. No infant in the study received…

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Amitha Kalaichandran

A physician, epidemiologist, medical journalist, and health tech consultant with an interest in the intersection of integrative medicine and innovation.