“Will putting cereal in my baby’s bottle help him sleep better?”
I hear this a lot, and even fell for it with my oldest daughter. I know it’s an old wives’ tale. Your grandmother probably told you, “Oh, put cereal in the breast milk or the formula, and this baby will sleep all night.” The truth is that is not true.
You want to be very careful and cautious about when you introduce solids to your baby. There’s a lot of evidence that suggests starting solids too early can lead to some allergies in the future and their digestive system is just not ready to handle it.
The rule of thumb around solids is anywhere between the fifth and sixth month, not before. I know it’s so 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 you’re thinking, “What can I do?”
You’re grasping at straws thinking, “Is there anything I can do to help this baby sleep well?” Food is not the problem unless, you’ve got a baby who’s been struggling with weight and has any kind of health issues. Then, yes, food could be the issue. They wake through the night and look for food, because its truly needed.
For any healthy baby who’s gained weight well, food isn’t the problem. What you need to do is take a look at how this baby falls asleep initially.
Most of the time it’s they’re rocked to sleep; or feed to sleep; or bounced to sleep. What they have done then is associated the feeding, and the bouncing, and the rocking with sleep.
Therefore, an hour and a half, two hours into their night they’re going to have a wake-up. That is normal and natural. There’s no way around that.
We all wake through the night. However, if they’re used to being fed, bounced, rocked, you name it at bed time, then they’re going to wake through the night at look for that again, because they are angry that they are awake too.
For example feeding… that is hands down the number one reason why a baby wakes 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 really it’s the strategy that that baby’s using to get himself to sleep every night. It’s nice that he gets food with it. That’s a little bonus, and I’m sure he appreciates it, but it’s more the strategy.
Before you run to the store, buy cereal to try, I want you to stop yourself and have a good look at how does this baby fall asleep at night? That is the first place you need to start to teach him to sleep well and through the night.