When Can You Start Feeding a Baby Cereal?

image001Feeding your baby cereal is one of the important developmental milestones in his life. This step marks his increasing independence as well as the ability to reach physical milestones which are crucial for development such as reflexes and head control.

It can be incredibly adorable to watch your baby trying to eat and ending up with a face full of food. However, it can be hard to know when can you start feeding a baby cereal, how much to offer. It doesn’t need to be difficult to give your baby cereal as long as you keep a few milestones and rules in mind.

When Can You Start Feeding a Baby Cereal?

The general rule is to start introducing baby cereal into your child’s diet when he is between four and six months old. Before this, breast milk or the formula will provide enough nutrients. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that your babies rely on breast milk until they are six months. Most babies aren’t ready to digest solid foods until they are six months old although some are ready a bit sooner.

How Will You Know When Your Baby Is Ready for Cereal?

The following signs indicate your baby is ready to start trying solid food:

Signs

Descriptions

Keep head upright

He must be able to keep his head upright and steady.

The “extrusion reflex” disappearing

He needs to stop pushing food out of the mouth using his tongue.

Sitting upright

He must be able to sit upright as this is crucial for swallowing.

Swallow efficiently

He should have the ability to move the food towards the back of the mouth for swallowing. You will usually see less drooling when he accomplishes this (with the exception of teething drool).

Great weight gain

He should have doubled his birth weight (to reach around 15 pounds) and be four months old.

Appetite growing

He should seem hungry despite 8 to 10 feedings a day.

Curiosity about food

He should start to be interested in your food, either visually or by grabbing.

How Should You Introduce Cereal to Babies?

The best way to start introducing solid food is with pureed foods such as sweet potatoes, bananas, applesauce, pears, or peaches. In the beginning, start by nursing and then following it with a teaspoon or two of the pureed solid food. You can start with cereal, but always mix it with breast milk to create a semi-liquid consistency.

Always use a plastic spoon with a soft tip and only put a small amount on it. Sometimes babies aren’t immediately interested in the spoon and if this is the case, give him time and let him smell or taste it first. Start by giving him solid food only once a day and don’t expect him to eat a lot at first. Eventually he will work up to several tablespoons and you can add less liquid to cereal.

Please watch this video and learn more about it:

More Tips on Giving a Baby Solid Food

1. How Will I Know When My Baby Is Full?

Babies will have varying appetites so look to body cues to indicate fullness. Signs include leaning back in his chair, turning his head away, playing with the spoon or not opening up for another bite after swallowing. Always give your child time to swallow as sometime he will keep his mouth closed during this process despite still being hungry.

2. Do I Still Need to Give My Baby Breast Milk or Formula?

Babies need breast milk (or some formula) until they are a year due to its protein, iron and vitamins. The amount of breast milk needed will vary, so pay attention to your child’s cues.

3. How Many Times a Day Should My Baby Eat Solid Food?

In the beginning he should have solid food once a day. At six to seven months this number should be about two meals and by eight months it should be three meals. Consider the following foods:

  • Breast milk or formula
  • Cereal (iron-fortified)
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Small protein sources

4. Do I Need Any Special Equipment?

Helpful equipment includes plastic spoons, a highchair, bibs, and plastic bowls. Sippy cups and splash mats can also be helpful. If you make the baby food, you need a food processor or something similar as well as containers to store extra food in the fridge or freezer.

5. Where Should I Feed My Baby?

Your baby should eat a sturdy and comfy spot that is a good height for you. At first this can be a bouncy seat that lets him sit upright. Eventually a highchair is ideal for easier cleanup and family time.

6. How to Avoid Choking

You should always do your best to avoid choking and this includes ensuring your baby is always sitting upright while eating. Be careful to avoid choking hazards like whole hot dogs or whole grapes. Some foods (like carrots) are fine pureed but should always be cut into tiny pieces when solid. Continue cutting larger firm foods until your baby is several years old and avoid popcorn until he is preschool age.

7. How Can I Help My Baby Develop Healthy Eating Habits?

  • Offer your child adventurous foods instead of relying on bland options
  • Try making the baby food yourself and if you buy it, always check the ingredients. Smaller lists are better.