Too many sleepless nights at your house? It comes with the territory when you have an infant. But on a mission to get an infant to sleep through the night, plenty of new parents think they should try and sneak a little baby cereal into their 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 helps to separate facts from fiction:
"Starting solids before 4 months of age may be harmful," Krakauer says. "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. 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," he adds.
In 2011, a study published in Pediatrics (the journal of The American Academy of Pediatrics) specifically investigated the possible relationship between the timing of introducing solids and the subsequent risk of childhood obesity.
The study's findings showed that among the infants who were never breastfed (or who stopped breastfeeding before 4 months old), introducing solids before the age of 4 months was associated with a sixfold increase in the odds of obesity at 3 years old.
"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,” Karkauer says.
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.