If you’ve ever shared your woes about your baby’s sleepless nights, you’ve likely been given a lot of unsolicited advice; and if you haven’t, you’re one of the lucky ones! If you’ve ever been told to put cereal in your little one’s bedtime bottle to make them sleep longer, this blog’s for you. Today I’m tackling the myth of solids and baby sleep.
Solids and baby sleep
So, the old wives’ tale is that giving your baby solid food before bedtime will keep their tummy full, therefore alleviating middle of the night wakings for feeding. Whether it’s giving breastfed babies formula at bedtime, or adding cereal to the bottle, many a new parent has been given this bogus advice. In fact, researches studied infant sleep and bedtime cereal and found that feeding your baby a more substantial bottle before bed does not affect your baby’s ability to sleep through the night.
While cereal in the bottle before bedtime myth persists, many a baby will suffer as a result. The reality is that feeding a baby cereal too soon or too early can cause digestive issues that may actually disrupt your little one’s sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, feeding your baby solids before four months of age may:
- Pose a risk of sucking food into the airway (aspiration)
- Cause a baby to get too much or not enough calories or nutrients
- Increase a baby’s risk of obesity
- Cause upset stomach
The Mayo Clinic adds this as a side note, “Also, starting solids before age 4 months hasn’t been shown to help babies sleep better at night.” The Mayo Clinic recommends waiting until your baby is between four to six months of age to introduce solids because your baby is better able to develop the coordination their mouth needs to move food around and swallow, and their digestive system is advanced enough to begin breaking down simple foods.
Is it hunger?
When well-meaning friends and family tell you to add cereal to your baby’s bottle, they’re assuming that your baby is waking because they’re hungry. If you have a newborn, this is likely the case, as they typically need to eat every 3 hours. However, if your little one is six months or older, and is still sleeping in 2-3 hour clips through the night, you may want to take at your baby’s daytime routine because the culprit may be poor sleep habits.
Infant sleep tips
Now that we’ve dispelled the myth of solids and baby sleep let’s take a look at the ways you can help your little one rest through the night.
Creating an environment conducive to sleep — dark, quiet, and cool — can absolutely get your baby to sleep better. Do you have a bedtime routine in place? If not, that’s the perfect starting point and may be what you need to get your little one on-track.
Take a look at how your baby is napping through the day — are they getting enough sleep? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that “Infants 4 months to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.” If you’re unsure what your little one’s daytime nap schedule should look like, to ensure that they’re getting enough sleep during the day, please call me — I can create a plan that works for your family.
If you’re co-sleeping, as many of you are when your baby is in their early months, there are some strategies you can employ to help your baby get a healthy night of sleep, such as switching for co-sleeping to room-sharing.
So, before you add cereal to your baby’s bedtime bottle, implement some of the strategies above. If you’re still having trouble getting your baby to sleep, give me a call. I offer a complimentary 15-minute sleep assessment so I can get to know the specifics about your situation.