Knock-Out Bottles – Experts Say No
Late last year, mothers on social media became embroiled in a debate about whether it was okay to feed their babies so-called “knock-out” bottles to help them sleep through the night.
Knock-out bottles – which are largely made by mixing formula or breastmilk with cereals or baby foods and, in some anecdotal instances, even medication – are purported to satisfy or indeed overwhelm the appetites of babies so that they, in theory, have a higher chance of sleeping continuously for six or more hours.
As newborn development specialist, sleep consultant and health visitor Jill Irving recently told the press, “Parents who add food to their baby’s bottle are often doing so prior to 26 weeks which is when a baby should be weaned and not before.”
Irving added that bottles made with food additives provide absolutely no guarantees that a baby will sleep through the night and any child health professional would not advise parents to use them.
Risk of choking
Paediatric dietician Bahee Van de Bor said, “Adding solids into a formula bottle increases babies’ risk of choking. It can also increase a baby’s intake of calories and wouldn’t necessarily promote sleep.”
Many paediatricians agree; knock-out bottles could result in children inhaling small amounts of powdered cereal into their lungs, potentially causing pulmonary problems. They are, essentially, a choking hazard.
And this is not to mention problems related to the disguising of solid food as fluid. Children need to learn to chew and swallow, and their digestive systems need to become accustomed to solids. If children are having solid foods through bottles, their jaw and facial muscles will not be stimulated and this can come at the cost of their development.
Scientific studies into knock-out bottles
But perhaps one of the most pertinent problems with knock-out bottles is that they are not a magic recipe for sleep. A study carried out in Cleveland, in the USA, into their usefulness found that babies who consumed bottles with cereal additives achieved their first uninterrupted six-hour period of sleep no sooner than those fed conventionally.
The scientific evidence and advice are clear; even if you are finding nights and night-time feeds challenging, knock-out bottles are not the miracle solution that some on social medial claim them to be. As such, don’t be tempted by instagrammable mums sharing photographs of their infant sleeping beside an empty knock-out bottle.
And for those parents who are really desperate for their child to sleep through the night, a few wise but probably unwelcome words: they don’t and they won’t. Young babies have not evolved to sleep through the night and probably will wake every two to three hours – it is natural and should not be suppressed.