Infants and Sleep: Cereal or Not?

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Don't be in too much of a hurry to get Baby to sleep through the night. Compromising his digestive system isn't worth it.

On the quest to get their infants to sleep through the night for the first time — and hopefully keep doing it! — plenty of new parents think they should try and sneak a little baby cereal into baby’s bottle. But when it comes to infants and sleep, be careful, experts say. This is not the best way in the long run.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges caution to sleep-deprived new parents, recommending that infants not be started on solid foods until at least 4 to 6 months of age (when the digestive system can handle cereal and other solids). In addition, one study from the AAP showed that feeding a baby rice cereal before 4 months (and at 7 months or older) puts him at increased risk for diabetes.

Mark Krakauer, M.D., of St. Thomas Medical Group adds more to separate facts from fiction: “Starting solids before 4 months of age may be harmful. It may result in the child getting an inadequate nutrient intake. The infant’s kidneys are immature at this point, and solids (or drinks other than breast milk or formula) can also expose the child to a dangerous amount of salt that can actually lead to seizures and death. Another reason to delay solids until at least 4 months is that before then most infants lack the oral motor skills needed to safely do this. What we’ve found is what children need in their first six months of life is breast milk. If you start adding other proteins, that could set up allergies and problems later on.”

The take away: Sorry, but sleep deprivation for Mom and Dad is a fact of life when infants are young. For the best outcome for your baby, stick to what the doctors say and not what others may tempt you with.

Susan Swindell Day is the editor in chief of Nashville Parent and the mom of four amazing kids.

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