Saturday, August 14, 2010

Mothers and Fathers of babies who are exclusively breastfeed get the most sleep!

Mothers and Fathers of babies who are exclusively breastfeed get the most sleep!

One US study of 133 new mothers of babies who were exclusively breastfed during the first 3 months of life concluded that mothers who exclusively breastfed got an average of 40 to 45 minutes more sleep per night than those who allowed the feeding of infant formula to their babies (Doan, Gardiner, Gay and Lee, 2007).

Breastfeeding Mothers spend more time in deep sleep!

A study done in Australia concluded that mothers who exclusively breastfeed had a noticeable positive alteration in their sleep structure, giving them longer periods of slow wave sleep (a type of deep sleep) than mothers of bottle feeding babies (Blyton, Sullivan, & Edwards, 2002). That means breastfeeding mothers get a more restful sleep.

Giving formula results in less sleep for parents!

Formula feeding at night failed to improve the parents sleep and resulted in parents getting less sleep, even when the baby’s father helped with supplemental formula feedings at night in an attempt to let the mother sleep (Doan, Gardiner, Gay, and Lee 2007).

Time spent preparing bottles decreases sleep at night, in addition to having to feed the infant upright as opposed to a side-lying breastfeeding position or semi-reclined position where mother could actually sleep during feedings. When the father feeds the baby at night, the mother often hears the crying and it disturbs her sleep. If the mother is not breastfeeding, she does not get the benefit of the relaxation hormones that are released at every feeding that promote rest for mother and baby.

Giving Solid foods does not help babies sleep through the night!

Many parents and grandparents believe that giving baby cereal in addition to formula or breast milk will fill the baby up and help them sleep more at night. Two studies concluded that there is no difference in sleep patterns of babies who were given solid foods and those who are fed breast milk. (Keane, 1988; Macknin, Mendendorp, & Maier, 1989). In my experience the introduction of cereal too early (before 4 to 6 months) can result in digestive problems such as constipation. There is also an increased risk of food allergy when solids are introduced too early.

Not only is breastfeeding the best thing for the health of Mother and Baby, but now we know it allows the whole family to get more sleep!


Blyton, D.M., Sullivan, C.E., & Edwards, N. (2002). Lactation is associated with an increase in slow-wave sleep in women. Journal of Sleep Research, 11(4), 297.

Doan, T., Gardiner, A., Gay, C. L., & Lee, K.A. (2007). Breast-feeding increases sleep duration of new parents. Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing, 21(3), 200-206.

Keane, V. et al. (1988). Do solids help baby sleep through the night? American Journal of Diseases in Children, 142, 404-405.

Macknin, M.L., Medendorp, S.V., & Maier, M.C. (1989). Infant sleep and bedtime cereal. American Journal of Diseases of Children, 143(9), 1066-1068.

1 comment:

  1. Yup, I can attest to that! Nothing beats snuggling and breastfeeding in bed. You can sleep and nurse at the same time, but for a bottle you have to get up and fix it.