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Does Putting Cereal in a Bottle Help Your Baby Sleep Better at Night?

It's 3am and your baby wakes up crying, and your first thought it probably "he is hungry." The next day your friend tells you that she started putting cereal in her baby's bottle at bedtime and she is now sleeping peacefully though the night. 

I hear these stories all the time, and a very common question I get asked as an pediatric sleep expert, is whether or not putting cereal in a baby’s bottle will help them sleep better. Many parents think that if they do this, it will get their baby’s tummy fuller, and help them sleep better at not.  So, I am here to help clarify and debunk this myth. Putting cereal in your baby’s bottle is not only ineffective but can also be harmful to your baby's health and sleep patterns.

Understanding Sleep and Nutrition

Sleep and nutrition DO go hand in hand, however the idea of pumping your baby with cereal before bedtime to make them sleep longer, is an unhealthy relationship with nutrition and sleep. A baby's ability to sleep through the night is more about their developmental stage and their ability to self-soothe, rather than the amount of food consumed before bedtime.

The Risks of Early Introduction of Solids

Introducing solids, including cereal, too early can cause some problems for your baby:

  1. Immature Digestive System: Babies are typically not ready for solids until around 6 months of age. Their digestive systems are still developing, and early introduction can lead to discomfort and an increased risk of food allergies.
  2. Choking Hazard: Cereal thickens the bottle's contents, posing a choking risk.
  3. Nutritional Imbalance: Exclusive breastfeeding or formula feeding is recommended for the first 6 months, which provide all the nutrients they need. Adding cereal can disrupt the balance of these essential nutrients.
  4. No Evidence of Improved Sleep

Studies have shown that adding cereal to a baby’s bottle does not significantly affect their sleep duration or quality. Babies’ sleep patterns are largely driven by developmental stages, and no amount of cereal will change these natural cycles.

  1. Establishing Healthy Eating Habits

Introducing solids in a bottle can set a precedent for poor eating habits. Babies need to learn how to eat solid foods from a spoon and eventually transition to self-feeding. Mixing cereal into a bottle bypasses these important developmental milestones.

The Role of Sleep Props

Often, the issue with a baby's sleep is their reliance on sleep props, such as feeding or rocking, to fall asleep. Teaching babies to fall asleep independently is key to helping them sleep through the night.

While the idea of adding cereal to your baby’s bottle might sound appealing as a quick fix for sleep issues, it’s important to prioritize their safety and nutritional needs. Focusing on supporting good sleep habits and self-soothing is a much better way you can support your baby’s natural sleep patterns and promote healthier sleep for both of you.

For more personalized sleep advice, feel free to reach out to us! We’re here to help you and your little one get the rest you need!


About the author

Amanda Medley

Why didn’t we try this sooner?! As we speak he is sound asleep in his crib – and has been since 7:15 pm.

Karianne Wanggaard

Sleep Well Sleep Specialists

Don't go through another night of bad sleep.

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Working with Shannon, I went from 2-3 wake ups every night to 1 or 0. She aligned the plan with my preferred sleep cycle. She was always coaching, never judging. Shannon was great, I have referred MANY people to her! That's the best testament to her work that I can give.

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