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Should I Give My Baby Cereal in a Bottle?
Read time: 2 minutes
What should I know about putting baby cereal in a bottle?
Cereal is a nutrient-dense first food for babies when they are ready to start solids
While some people add cereal to baby’s bottle to help with sleep or reflux, there is currently no evidence to support doing so
You may have heard from friends, relatives, or the internet that putting cereal in your baby’s bottle can help baby sleep through the night, help fill them up, or help reduce spit up or colic. And certainly, something that seems like an ‘easy fix’ may be very tempting to try.
Read on to learn when cereal is a great addition to baby’s diet and when it may be better avoided.
When and how cereal can be added to baby’s diet
Before about 6 months, human milk and infant formula provide all the nutrition your baby needs.12 Once they reach 6 months, your little one’s calorie and nutrient needs begin to exceed what breastmilk and formula provide.11
At this point, a fortified baby cereal makes a great complementary first food, providing carbohydrates, iron, zinc, and other important nutrients.13
The best way to introduce cereal to your baby is by spoon-feeding.
Babies are usually excellent at self-regulating how much they eat and drink. Spoon-feeding helps put baby in control of how much they eat, as long as you pay attention to their hunger and fullness cues and stop feeding when they indicate they are done.14
Why is putting cereal in a bottle not recommended?
People may add cereal to their baby’s bottle to help them sleep longer or to help with reflux. However, research does not show that this feeding practice will help with either of these, in fact, it may come with some risks.
Below are some of the reasons pediatric experts do not recommend adding cereal to a baby’s bottle.
Cereal provided in a bottle may increase the risk of:
Babies have difficulty judging how many calories they are taking in and how full they are when cereal is added to a bottle. This may lead to them taking in more calories than needed.
Not only are babies not prepared for this thicker liquid, some parents cut the nipple wider on the bottle for the cereal to go through; both of these scenarios increase the risk of your baby choking.46
Your baby is at higher risk of aspirating the thickened milk. This is when liquids or solids get trapped in baby’s lungs.
Questions on how to introduce solids to your baby? Reach out to our team of registered dietitian nutritionists and lactation consultants for free! They’re here to help on our free to live chat from Monday – Friday 8am - 6pm (ET). Chat Now!
When might cereal in a bottle be recommended for baby?
Because some evidence supports mixing cereal into a bottle for GERD, some pediatricians may decide the benefits outweigh the risks and recommend this practice if your baby has been diagnosed.
If this is the case, the pediatrician will provide specific instructions on how to safely mix cereal into infant formula or breastmilk.
It’s important to discuss this fully with your baby’s pediatrician.
The bottom line
Unless your baby’s pediatrician has directed you to do so, it is best to avoid cereal in baby’s bottle.
If your baby has GERD, discuss options with their doctor.
We know parenting often means sleepless nights, stressful days, and countless questions and confusion, and we want to support you in your feeding journey and beyond.
Our Happy Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitian nutritionists certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too! They’re here to offer personalized support on our free, one-on-one, live chat platform Monday - Friday 8am-6pm (ET). No appointment needed, no email or sign-up required. Chat Now!
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