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We have often heard putting rice cereal in your baby’s bottle will help them sleep better. But what do they experts say?

Pediatrician and consultant Dr. Tanya Altmann says “Please don’t. Unless your paediatrician recommends it for reflux (severe spitting up or vomiting), it’s actually best not to put rice cereal or any other food in a bottle. Bottles are for breast milk, formula and water. Spoons are for cereals and other foods.”

“Adding rice cereal to your baby’s bottle won’t help her sleep through the night, but it will increase the calories that she is drinking and potentially contribute to obesity later on in life. The best way to ensure your baby sleeps is to keep a consistent bedtime routine and, as she gets older, let her learn how to self-soothe and put herself back to sleep when she wakes up at night.”

Dr. Alan Greene says “a major study looking for the causes of obesity found that short-circuiting young children’s self-regulation of how much they eat is a major cause of later obesity. Cereal in the bottle does just that.

Babies that are fed this way may appear to be unaffected – but those few weeks of added convenience may result in a lifetime of struggles with weight. This common practice may have contributed to our being the most obese generation in history.”

Scientists at the Cleveland Clinic studied the effect of cereal on sleep and found that adding the cereal did nothing at all to speed up the age of sleeping through the night. That first uninterrupted 6-hour stretch of sleep came no earlier in those who took cereal early.

There is no scientific evidence, though, to support the claim that cereal in the bottle will help an infant increase total sleep or decrease crying.

The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends against adding cereal to the bottle. It may be tempting after your 16th straight sleep-deprived night to cut a bigger hole in the feeding nipple to add rice cereal. But it won’t offer lasting help, and it may be giving your baby a lasting gift that both of you will regret.

WHO recommends around the age of 6 months, an infant’s need for energy and nutrients starts to exceed what is provided by breast milk, and complementary foods are necessary to meet those needs. An infant of this age is also developmentally ready for other foods. If complementary foods are not introduced around the age of 6 months, or if they are given inappropriately, an infant’s growth may falter.

Personal experience

Don’t shoot me! I was advised to give both my children rice cereal in their bottle to assist with reflux. I am talking walk the floors all night, scream all day, reflux. NOT FUN. So under advisement of our paediatrician we added a bit of rice cereal to the bottle to try and help with some relief. It did seem to work.  Along with medication. It was a long six months for us though.

Share your comments below.

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  • I never put rice cereal in my children’s bottles, though I breastfed them all.

    Reply

  • If the rice is in the bottle unless the teat has a bigger than normal size teat, all the baby would get from it is the starch and that is converted to carbohydrate.

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  • I had heard of this but we never did it. We did introduce rice cereal mixed with breast milk (spoon fed not in the bottle) at around 5 months as bub was ready to start solids.

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  • My son suffered from reflux ..actually projectile vomiting ..his paediatrician recommended we thicken his feeds. It certainly never caused him to be over weight or obese ..quite the opposite actually. He is 23 and very tall and thin. His older sister is the one who has to watch her weight and she never needed thickened milk.

    Reply

  • Thankyou for sharing this article. I had never heard of adding Rice Cereal to a bottle before. But now I am informed, if it is advised because of severe reflux issues then I would do it based on medical advice but not for any other reason.

    Reply

  • It’s indeed an easy way to give extra calories without realizing it. It’s surely important to know it.

    Reply

  • I’ve heard of this for reflux babies and had it recommended to me when my son just would night sleep the night through. I persevered with routine and unlucky for me, my son was one of those that just needs minimal sleep ☺

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  • My babies only had breast milk til 8-9 months, then water and watered down cows milk. At about 4-5 months they started having rice cereal mixed with breast milk, a little at a time. They never had it in a bottle tho

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  • I never added rice cereal to my daughter’s bottle, but I did start her on solids at 5 months rather than 6 months, and this really helped her sleep better.

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  • Wouldn’t it block up the bottle?

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  • I have four kids and never until today had heard about putting rice cereal in their bottle but luckily non of my kids suffered from reflux. I think it’s best to listen to what paediatrician advises depending on your child’s needs.

    Reply

  • I was advised to do this to get my daughter to sleep but I chose not to

    Reply

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