“Will putting cereal in my baby’s bottle help her sleep better?”
I hear it all the time. It's actually an old wives' tale. Your grandmother probably told you, “Honey, put cereal in the breastmilk 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 is a lot of evidence that suggests starting solids too early can possibly lead to allergies in the future.
The rule of thumb around solids is anywhere between the fifth and sixth month, not before. I know it’s so tempting when you have got a three or four-month-old baby who is up every hour throughout the night and you are thinking, “What can I do?”
You’re grasping at straws thinking, “Is there anything I can do to help this baby sleep?” Food is not the problem unless you have got a baby who has been struggling with weight and has any kind of health issues. Then, yes, food might be the issue. Babies in this category are waking through the night and looking for food, because they truly need it from a nutritional standpoint.
For any healthy baby who has gained weight well, though, food is not the problem. You need to look at how does this baby falls asleep initially.
Most of the time it’s because baby is rocked to sleep. Baby is fed to sleep. Baby is bounced to sleep. What then happens is baby associates the feeding, and the bouncing, and the rocking with sleep.
Therefore, an hour and a half to two hours into their night and BAM baby is going to have a wake-up. That is normal and natural. There is no way around that.
Everybody has wake-ups through the night, you and me included! However, if your sweet baby is used to being fed, bounced, rocked, you name it at bed time, then they are going to wake through the night looking to recreate that scenario again.
For example, FEEDING is hands down the number one reason why baby is waking through the night. It is the association between the feeding and the sleep, not the food itself. That gets confusing. I get it.
You think your baby is waking up from hunger, but really it is the strategy that that baby is using to get himself to sleep every night. It’s nice that he gets food with it. That is a little bonus, and I’m sure he appreciates it, but it is more the strategy that is the culprit.
So before you run to the store and buy yourself some rice cereal and give that a try, I want you to stop yourself and have a good hard 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.