Rice Cereal in Bottle: 3 Sleep Alternatives That Are Safe

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Adorable baby eating in high chair. Baby's first solid food.

Many mothers have heard of a new trend: rice cereal in a bottle. This trend has good intentions, but it’s not based on factual evidence. Pediatricians and nutritionists do not recommend adding rice cereal to bottle formula for infants under the age of 4 months.

There is an exception to this rule: acid reflux. But we’ll discuss this more in-depth shortly.

While this cereal will not harm your child, it will cause them to become constipated. Constipation will lead to further issues, such as stomach pains, restlessness and gas, which will result in a very unhappy baby.

When to Introduce Rice Cereal

Ears of Thai jasmine rice isolated on white background.Ideally, you won’t be adding rice cereal in your baby’s formula unless advised to by your doctor. The idea comes from old wives tales where babies would have a better night’s sleep when the cereal was added to their formulas before bed.

The truth is, cereal can help in certain cases.

Rice cereal for reflux is definitely effective and will be beneficial for any child suffering from reflux. If the child is not suffering from reflux, the rice cereal truly doesn’t serve a purpose. When you perform a search online, you’ll find that some mothers love the idea of rice cereal, and others simply hate it due to the resulting constipation complication.

Misinformation leads a lot of mothers to follow this method.

Solids are bad for newborns and infants, so you also need to know when solids can be introduced.

1. When Can Solids Be Introduced?

Parents love to share food with their baby, and oftentimes, they introduce solids well before the recommended time by pediatricians. You wouldn’t think that this would be a major issue, but it is a very big cause for concern.

Feeding an infant solid food before they are 4 months old can cause food allergies.

Adorable baby eating in high chair. Baby's first solid food.First, the baby is not able to tell you when they’re feeling ill or sick from eating a specific food. Furthermore, the baby’s body is simply not ready to digest solid foods at this point, so the body will struggle through the digestion process.

Obesity is also a major cause for concern.

When babies are born, they know how much food they need to eat. The problem is that babies know when to stop eating based on the volume of formula or milk that they consume. When rice cereal is added to formula, it increases the amount of calories a baby will receive dramatically and teaches them how to overeat.

Baby cereal in bottles does just that: teaches a child how to overeat. Essentially, you’re short-circuiting the child’s self-regulation process, which will cause them to overeat in the future.  This is the same short-circuiting that has been linked to adult obesity.

Even if rice cereal for infants works wonders for reflux, it should be used sparsely.

You may not notice an immediate impact on the child, but in the future, the child will be affected by rice cereal if it’s given to them at too young of an age.

Never give your child rice cereal in bottle form unless recommended by a doctor, or the child is past 4 months old.

When the baby is transitioning into solid foods, rice cereal can be added to formula to help the baby’s body adapt to the solid food change. This should be done slowly by adding just a few teaspoons of rice cereal at first, and progressing to solid foods over time.

2. But, It Helped My Friend’s Baby Sleep Better

Peaceful baby lying on a bed while sleeping in a bright room.Studies have shown that a child doesn’t sleep any longer or go to bed any earlier when eating rice cereal from a bottle. What may occur is that the child cries less often due to having consumed excess calories, which may lead to 20 – 30 minutes more of uninterrupted sleep.

For a sleep deprived mother, this may seem substantial, but it will lead to a lifetime of problems.

Again, unless recommended by a doctor or the baby has acid reflux, try to avoid giving them rice cereal altogether.

3 Alternatives to Rice Cereal

Every new mother is craving sleep and wants just one night of uninterrupted sleep to recharge. Thankfully, there are numerous ways to help your child sleep better without constipation or the risk of future obesity:

  1. Warm Bath: Warm water soothes a baby. Before bedtime, a warm bath with gentle strokes can relax a child and cause them to sleep all night long. Avoid toys and too much excitement, or it may have the opposite effect.
  2. Dreamfeed: Right before you go to bed, feed the baby while he or she is sleeping. Babies often dream of feeding and placing a bottle in their mouth will cause them to drink a little while they sleep. This drinking will add more hours of uninterrupted sleep to your night.
  3. The right bedtime: Adults wouldn’t dream of going to bed at 6:30 pm, but studies show this is the right sleep time for babies. Adjusting your sleeping schedule may lead to longer sleep times for you and your baby.

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