Cereal in the Bottle Controversy

This post is a column I wrote for the Lexington Family Magazine Baby Bump 2012, a maternity guide for Central Kentucky parents. The guide is a wonderful resource for health tips, shopping guides and more info concerning pregnancy and newborns. If you are interested in obtaining a copy, feel free to contact me and we will get you one! (And yes, it's free!)

My Thoughts on Cereal in the Bottle (I don't mean to offend if you use this method, but it's worth mentioning the research that advises against it.)

"Every parent has been desperate for sleep in the early months. I remember nights when I would have made a deal with the devil just to get an uninterupted five-hour stretch of shut-eye. But I was breastfeeding and my daughter ate every three hours on the dot.

With the intentions of being helpful, I had women telling me a special trick they thought would help: cereal in a bottle. “It fills them up so they won't need more milk.” “They'll sleep through the night so you can too.” “Mothers have been doing this for years. It's fine.”

This advice didn't sit well with me for many reasons. The first being glaringly obvious- our pediatrician told me what a bad idea this was. Cereal in the bottle is sometimes recommended for certain health conditions your baby may have, like reflux. Not as a quick fix for healthy babies.

I wondered why my baby was being accused of not eating enough before bed. I resented the implication that if she wasn't sleeping through the night, something needed to be “fixed.”

I learned that my newborn's stomach was roughly the size of an egg, and breastmilk digested very quickly in her little belly. The thought of filling it with a substance meant for a six-month-old concerned me.

More sleep would have been nice. What new parent would turn down the chance for a full night of sleep? Only one who had already been lost to the insanity of sleep deprivation. But when we decided to become parents, we knew what came with the territory. We all have things we have to wake up and do the next day. But baby's needs should come first.

Here is a news flash: Your child was not born to neatly fit into your schedule. If you can't adapt to feed your child in the healthiest way, then you are in for a rough going over the next few years of parenthood.
The American Academy of Pediatrics firmly states that cereal in the bottle is not healthy for infants. They risk choking or aspirating, it can cause too much weight gain and lead to childhood obesity. Yet it is still recommended by many mothers.

You can tell me that it makes babies sleep. Well so does Nyquil or Benedryl. I'm not about to drop a teaspoon of that into a bottle. They are warned against by pediatricians just like cereal- they all can have adverse effects on a baby. So why is cereal such a praised solution?

I refused to put cereal in my child's bottles, despite repeated suggestions from others. My pediatrician told me all I needed to know, and my gut backed it up. I have a very happy, healthy 1-year-old little girl and we both sleep peacefully the whole night through now."

And just for kicks, here is a recent picture of my little gal sleeping (she naps hard, ya'll.)

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