Welcome to the third installment in my 5 part baby sleep myth series. Last time we discussed good vs. bad sleepers and how all babies can learn to sleep through the night. Today we’re going to talk about food and its connection to your baby’s sleep. Food is nourishment. It can make us feel energized or leaving us feeling sluggish. It can help us heal or even cause us to be ill. Food is a powerful tool and when used properly can have amazing health benefits. Some might even say food is the key to life.
When it comes to what our kids eat, there are a variety of views on the topic. You’ve heard it before: Don’t feed them gluten. Skip the meat. No processed sugars. It’s all very confusing to say the least. Then when you have a baby that won’t sleep, everyone says “Just add some cereal to their bottle.” In this 5 part series, I’ll bust common baby sleep myths and provide you with the REAL DEAL so your family can enjoy more sleep.
Myth #4: Will giving my baby rice cereal help them sleep longer?
Real Deal: This is a huge myth. Giving your baby rice cereal before they are 4 months doesn’t help them sleep longer. In fact, studies have shown that giving babies under 4 months rice cereal actually makes them sleep less. While it may seem that rice cereal would be more filling for your baby, it’s actually digested quickly and doesn’t stay in the stomach for long. After it’s digested, your baby is still hungry and will wake up for more food. The best nutrients for babies under 6 months and under comes from breast milk or formulas designed for baby’s nutritional needs.
But my baby seems hungry all the time?
If you are nursing mother, you want to ensure that your baby is satisfied after eating. Here are some breastfeeding tips to make sure your baby gets a “full tank” at each meal:
- Your breasts feel softer after nursing, because your baby has emptied some of the milk that was making them firm.
- After a feeding, your baby seems relaxed and satisfied.
- After gaining back her initial weight loss after birth, your baby continues to gain weight. (Most babies lose between 5 and 9 percent of their birth weight and then regain it by the time they’re about 2 weeks old.) A rough guideline: In the first month, your baby should gain 5 to 10 ounces a week; in months 2 and 3, she should gain 5 to 8 ounces a week; in months 3 to 6, she should gain between 2.5 and 4.5 ounces a week; and from 6 to 12 months, she should put on 1 to 3 ounces a week.
- In the first few days, when your baby is getting your thick, valuable colostrum, she may have only one or two wet diapers a day. After your milk comes in, though, your baby will wet six to eight cloth diapers a day, or five or six disposables. (Disposables can hold more liquid than cloth diapers.)
- In the first month, your baby has at least three stools a day, and they lighten to a yellowy mustard color by the fifth day after birth. She may have less frequent bowel movements once she’s a month old. In fact, it’s not uncommon for breastfed babies to skip a day of bowel movements now and then. Once she’s eating solid foods, at about 6 months, she’ll probably become quite regular and go back to having at least one bowel movement a day.
My advice is to be patient and skip the rice cereal for babies until they are closer to 6 months. Always consult your doctor before making any changes to your child’s diet. If you are having problems with your milk supply or with breastfeeding in general, please reach out to a lactation consultant for help. Lastly, if your baby will only fall asleep on the breast or wakes up multiple times during the night to comfort nurse and this is problematic for your family, please download my FREE GUIDE and treat yourself to a good night’s sleep.
Three myths down, two more to go. Join me next time when we discuss: Should You Ever Wake A Sleeping Baby?