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Starting Cereal

by Andie
(New Jersey)

Ready for  solid foods?

Ready for solid foods?

Visitor Question:

Will giving my daughter cereal help her sleep through the night? She is exclusively breastfed and is 4 months old.

Breastfeeding Magazine Response:

The myth that starting solids helps your little one sleep better is an old wives' tale. Is has been shown to be false by many medical studies. In fact, starting your baby on solid foods or formula to try to make your daughter sleep longer is not a good idea.

Here's why:

1. There's no evidence that it will help. In fact, it may cause other problems like tummy aches or gas that will make her sleep LESS.

2. Infant formula requires a baby's digestive system to work harder...which is not as healthy.

3. It may increase the risks of SIDS in a baby under six months.

For more information on why you may wish to delay starting any solid foods, you may want to visit this Kellymom article on delaying solid food.

Good luck!

Comments for
Starting Cereal

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Old Wive's Tale
by: Anonymous

I hoped starting solids would make a difference in the sleep of either of my children and there was no difference at all. Neither was there a difference between formula vs. breast milk. Same lack of sleep. :)

Some More Info on Solid Foods (Visitor Comment)
by: J O'Quinn

Very good response, may I add some other information?

4) Formula-fed babies need iron fortified cereals because they are iron deficient from being deprived of the lactoferrin present in human breast milk. Babies who are exclusively breastfed for 7 months have better hemoglobins than formula-fed babies or breast-fed babies who babies given solids earlier. There is no reason to give a breastfed baby cereal before 7 months of age.

Exclusively breastfed babies rarely, if ever, get sick with vomiting and diarrheal illnesses because the iron in breast milk, loactoferrin, is bound by a co-factor which makes in unavailable to harmful bacteria and preferentially available to the baby. Cereal contains free iron which can be used by harmful bacteria.

5) Since babies keep their caloric intake more or less constant for their weight offering solids to a young baby means the mother is unknowingly displacing breast milk from her baby's diet. Since breast milk is the most complete, most nutrient dense food a child will ever have it shouldn't be displaced from the diet of a baby or toddler.

At some point in the baby's life his caloric needs and his need for iron and protein will out-pace his mothers ability to make enough breast milk nursing him just 8-10 times a day. Nursing a baby less than 8 times a day means the mother is doing the weaning rather than the baby, because nursing less frequently puts the mother in a bad hormonal state for making milk. When nursing become too infrequent the baby will stop nursing not because he wants to but because there isn't enough milk for him when he is allowed to go to breast.

Even when a mother allows the toddler to nurse 8 or more times a day at some point the toddler will start to consume a lot more solid food because the toddler's needs are exceeding his mother's capacity for milk making even with her good breastfeeding management of nursing at least 8 times a day.
This is natural weaning.

At this point toddlers will eat solids without a lot of cajoling by mom. Many moms notice this around 15-18 months of age. More teeth also become available at this time, so the whole thing works together beautifully.

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