Here’s an old wives’ tale that I hear from time to time: “Putting cereal in the baby’s bottle will help them sleep better.” This one has been around for years and you’ve probably had your grandmother or other family members telling you some variation of this. The truth is, as easy as it sounds, that is not true.
As we’ve been learning of more evidence that suggests starting solids too early can lead to some allergies in the future, you do want to be very careful and cautious about when you introduce solids to your baby. The rule of thumb around solids is that you’re good to start introducing it in between the fifth and sixth month, but generally not before. However, it can be really tempting when you’ve got a three or four-month-old baby who is up every hour, hour and a half throughout the night, and think, “Could this really work?”
How Do I Know If They Really Need the Feed?
When running through countless of ideas and wondering, “Is there anything I can do to help this baby sleep well?” The answer is yes, and usually the answer isn’t food. Unless, you’ve got a baby who’s been struggling with weight and has any kind of health issues. In this case, food could definitely be the answer and in this case, you should be working closely with your child’s doctor and have a plan in place to encourage weight gain . In this case, they’re waking through the night and look for food, because they truly need it.
For any healthy baby who’s gained weight well, food is not the problem. You need to look at how does this baby falls asleep initially. Most of the time it’s they’re rocked to sleep, or they’re fed to sleep. Perhaps, they’re bounced to sleep or fell asleep with the pacifier held in their mouth. What they have done then is associated the feeding, and the bouncing, and the rocking with sleep.
Wakings Are Normal
Therefore, at some point in the night, they’re going to have a wake-up. That is normal and natural. There’s no way around that. In reality, everybody has wake-ups through the night. However, if they’re used to being fed, bounced, rocked, helped to sleep at bed time, then they’re going to wake through the night looking for that help again.
It’s been my experience that feedings are hands down the number one reason why baby’s waking through the night because of the association between the feeding and the sleep, not the food. That gets confusing. I get it.
You think your baby’s waking up from hunger, but at the heart of the situation, it’s the strategy that that baby’s using to get themselves to sleep every night. It just ends up being a bonus that food comes along with the feed, and I’m sure they appreciate it, but it’s more the actual act of eating/suckling that is what helps them get back to sleep.
Don't Plan A Trip to the Store Yet!
Before you pull up Instacart, or set up a Target Drive Up & Order Pickup to buy yourself some cereal and give that a try, take a hard look at what is happening when your baby falls asleep at night? In many cases, this is the first place you need to start to teach them to sleep well and through the night.
If you’re at a loss for how to move feeds away from bedtime and naps and you need help figuring out a plan – reach out to set up a time for us to talk about how I can help, and get those restful, feed-free nights back into your home in no time!
I am a Pediatric Sleep Consultant who works with families to help them resolve their littles' sleep issues. As a mom of two littles herself, Katie has walked in the shoes of her clients and is passionate about helping them re-discover peaceful sleeps in their own homes.