As young parents, you get a lot of unsolicited advice from family, friends, and even strangers. One tip that has been passed down through the generations is the idea of putting cereal in baby’s bottle of milk to help them sleep longer or through the night. But is this actually safe?
The most recent recommendations that have come out of the Center for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly urge parents not to put rice cereal in their baby’s bottle. Here is a quote from a study conducted by the AAP.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends against the routine use of rice cereal in the bottle (RIB) to improve infant sleep patterns. The AAP also states that the use of RIB is a choking hazard and may lead to excessive weight gain. Additionally, RIB as a milk thickening agent can cause a change in stool consistency and result in constipation.” (Milanaik, Ruth et al.)
In addition to the risk of choking, placing cereal in the bottle can confuse a baby who may be used to drinking a thinner formula or milk and will hinder their ability to tell the difference between a solid food and a liquid. Placing any type of cereal in baby’s bottle has not been backed by any evidence suggesting that it helps baby to sleep. There has also been no evidence suggesting that cereal in the bottle will help with reflux or spit up. The risks far outweigh the potential benefits.
Instead of placing cereal in baby’s bottle, try feeding them some cereal with a spoon at dinner! If baby is old enough for solids and you are concerned that their tummy may not be full enough with just their bottle, it is perfectly acceptable to feed before bed. Other things you can focus on to improve your baby’s sleep habits are keeping a consistent routine each night, making sure their room is dark, and making sure the temperature is comfortable in their room.
Milanaik, Ruth, et al. “Prevalence and Parental Perceived Efficacy of Rice Cereal in Bottles Used as a Natural Sleep Aid for Infants Aged 0-11 Months.” American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics, 1 Aug. 2019