BOSTON (CBS) – Most pediatricians recommend that babies be exclusively breastfed until six months of age when solids are slowly introduced, but a new study in JAMA Pediatrics says feeding solids to babies at an earlier age may help them sleep better.

Researchers in the United Kingdom looked at more than 1,300 three-month old infants. Half the babies were exclusively breastfed until six months of age, the other half were introduced to a variety of foods including some that are associated with allergies, including peanuts and eggs.

The scientists found that the babies who were given the solid foods slept slightly longer, woke less frequently and were less likely to have very serious sleep problems than the babies given only breastmilk.

Critics say that the improvements in sleep were small and that introducing solids too early could reduce the amount of breastmilk babies consume. But this study will certainly spark a larger debate on when to introduce solids and hopefully lead to further research to help tease it out.

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