Should You Add Rice Cereal to Baby's Bottle?

image001 Many parents are told about the benefits of adding rice cereal in bottle along with baby formula so their baby will sleep longer during the night. This may seem reasonable since cereal is denser then formula, so it would therefore keep your baby full so they will sleep. However, studies have found that this idea is actually false and it can be dangerous to add cereal to your child’s bottle.

There are some circumstances when your physician may advise you to add a bit of cereal to your child’s formula, but this is done to address specific health concerns like reflux. You should only add cereal to your child’s bottle if it is done under the direct supervision of your child’s doctor. Read on to learn why you should not add rice cereal in formula when feeding newborn.

Is Adding Rice Cereal in Bottle OK for Your Newborn?

People will often recommend adding a teaspoon of baby cereal to a baby’s bottle to help them sleep longer at night. Some doctors years ago would provide this advice to mothers. If you search this query online you will likely find mixed responses with some parents saying that it works and some saying that it is harmful and that this advice stems from an old myth. 

The Myth and the Fact

There was a time when adding cereal to formula in a bottle was recommended to help children sleep soundly. However, there is no evidence that feeding your child a more substantial meal, or giving them a bottle at all, will help them sleep more soundly. Babies will instinctually wake during the night both to feed and to interact with their parents. Babies are not capable of sleeping for five hours at a time, the standard definition of a full night’s sleep, until they have a nervous system which has fully matured. This has nothing to do with whether or not their stomach is full. Every baby develops differently so it is difficult to predict when exactly your child will reach this milestone.

Health Issues of Adding Rice Cereal in Bottle of Your Infant 

Feeding an infant cereal could be harmful to their health. A three month old child does not have a mature digestive system yet so they will not be able to process solid foods. This can cause an upset stomach. Listed below are potential hazards if you add rice cereal in your baby’s formula:

Potential Health Problems



Whether you use a spoon or a bottle, feed a baby cereal too early can increase their risk of obesity later in life. According to Dr. Alan Green at Stanford University, rice cereal mainly consists of starch and high calories. Babies will want to finish their bottle the same way they did before you began using this additive and become more used to ingesting calorie-dense meals.


Many baby cereals or porridges contain gluten. Children should not consume foods that contain gluten before they are at least six months old because these can cause illness or an allergic reaction which could be dangerous.


Babies younger than six months in age are not developed enough to manage solid foods. Those that are given solid foods before this age are more likely to have digestive issues later in life compared to those that were introduced to solids later. These issues include diarrhea, upset stomachs or vomiting.

Choking Hazard

Adding cereal to the milk in a child’s bottle will make it thicker which can increase the risk of your child choking. If your baby becomes used to their milk being very solid in their bottle it will make it more difficult for them to distinguish liquids and solids later. This can make it more difficult to introduce your baby to proper solid foods later.

Final Notes

If it seems that your baby is hungry quite often speak to their doctor. They will likely suggest that your baby be given extra milk. Most babies around three months in age will experience a growth spurt which will result in the need for longer or more frequent feedings. In most cases this extra hunger is short-lived and the child will return to their normal dietary habits after a short time.

Watch a video for more: Should you add rice cereal in baby formula? When is the right time?

When Can You Introduce Rice Cereal and How?

When Is the Baby Ready?

Many parents will start adding rice cereal to a baby’s formula as a transitionimage002 step before starting the child on solid foods. This is generally started around 6 months of age, but you should meet with your child’s doctor and determine they have developed enough to manage solids before attempting this. Some children may not be able to swallow solids properly yet or have an underdeveloped digestive tract which could make managing solids difficult.

How to Introduce Rice Cereal

If your doctor determines that your baby is ready for solids, at a tablespoon of rice cereal to every 4-5 tablespoons of breast milk or formula that you would normally feed your child. So, if your child normally takes a 10 tablespoon bottle you would mix this with 2 tablespoons of cereal. If the cereal you purchased already has formula included, follow the package instructions to prepare it. Do not serve this mixture in a bottle, but instead use a spoon.

To feed your baby, fill half the spoon with the cereal and hold the spoon in front of the child’s face to get their attention. Place a small dab of the cereal on their lips until they are familiar enough with the food to open their mouth. They may initially use their tongue to push the cereal out, but this is a natural reflex and should not cause concern.

Special Precautions to Take

Try introducing new cereals every 4-5 days to start determining your baby’s dietary needs or restrictions. After their initial servings, watch your child for diarrhea, coughing or vomiting which could be the sign of an allergic reaction to the ingredients. If you notice any signs of allergic reaction call your doctor immediately.

All Categories