Tiffany is a sleep-deprived mom to a teen, a toddler, and a newborn. You can catch her blogging over a cup of coffee at Lattes And Life. You can also find her Twitter feed @give_me_a_latte.
Adding Baby Cereal to Bottles
By the time your baby is a few weeks old, chances are someone has suggested adding cereal to her bottle to make her sleep longer at night. In fact, many parents swear by this method and encourage everyone they know to follow suit.
Yet, there is no scientific evidence to back up this claim. The medical and parenting communities actually say this practice can be harmful! Let’s take a closer look.
(There is a small group of babies who pediatricians may advise adding cereal to their bottles: babies with severe reflux. Always follow your doctor’s advice).
1. Parents claim that adding cereal to the bottle makes baby sleep longer.
Many research studies have been conducted, comparing sleep habits of babies who had cereal added to their bottle and those who did not. Under research conditions, no difference has been found. Babies will “sleep through the night” when they are ready; each one reaches that milestone at a different rate.
2. Cereal is empty calories at this age.
Babies have definite nutrition requirements. Adding cereal to the bottle only adds empty calories to baby’s diet, which isn’t a habit you want to establish at such a young age!
3. Introducing solid foods too early can aggravate food allergies.
Many in the dietetic community feel that food allergies may be triggered by early exposure to the allergen, before the body is ready to process it. Exposing a baby to grains in the form of cereal in their bottle could possibly increase the chance they’ll develop a food allergy.
4. Baby’s feeding mechanisms aren’t designed for processing solids this early.
Young babies have a reflex that pushes their tongue against whatever comes into their mouth. This is necessary for the sucking required at the breast or bottle. This reflex naturally begins to go away around four months of age, making it easier to begin using a spoon to feed baby.
Also, some babies struggle to coordinate everything required in order to suckle properly. Introducing cereal to their bottles could aggravate this, causing them to choke (and potentially aspirate cereal into their lungs).
5. Adding cereal to the bottle alters baby’s fullness cues.
Babies have internal mechanisms that regulate feeding, so they only eat what they need. Adding cereal to the bottle interferes with these mechanisms, causing them to take in more calories than necessary. Researchers fear this can lead to a lifetime habit of overeating, and could contribute to the obesity epidemic we face today.
For all intents and purposes, it appears better to save solid foods until baby is four to six months of age and ready to accept food from a spoon. You can help encourage your baby to sleep better at night by following some of the tips I’ve shared in previous articles. In the meantime, try to snuggle your way through middle-of-the-night feedings with a smile. They won’t last forever, I promise!
Disclaimer: The previous article is not medical advice from a medical professional. Always consult your physician for medical advice in the health care and treatment of medical concerns with your baby.