When Can a Baby Have Infant Cereal?

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Moving to solid foods is a big milestone for your little one. However, it’s important for you to wait until the timing is right. Giving your baby infant cereal too early can result in upset tummies for those undeveloped digestive tracts. Follow your doctor’s advice about when your baby can start eating infant cereal.


Starting Solid Foods

The digestive tract in a baby’s body is not ready to handle solid foods. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that a baby should eat only breast milk or formula for at least the first four to six months of life. In some cases — such as in premature infants — you may want to wait even longer to start your baby on solid foods.

Developmental Signifiers

To feed your baby infant cereal, she must be able to sit up unassisted and have good head control. She should open her mouth to accept food. Another good sign is interest in food and eating. If your baby watches intently as you eat and tries to grab at your spoon or mimics the act of eating, she might be ready.

Which Cereals to Introduce

Cereal is a good first food for many babies because it’s bland and — for the most part — easy on the baby’s tummy. It’s smart to start with rice cereal or oatmeal first, as these are less likely to present complications from allergies than wheat-based cereals. Use special infant cereals and mix with water, breast milk or formula.

Cereal as a First Food

Many parents use infant cereal as the baby’s first food, but you don’t have to. You can start your baby eating a vegetable like sweet potatoes or carrots or a fruit like bananas or peaches, and then introduce cereal later. Whenever you introduce a new food, you should wait at least three days to see if there is any adverse reaction to that particular food.

Cereal in Baby’s Bottle

Some older generations may suggest putting a bit of infant cereal in a baby’s bottle as a way to help him sleep through the night. However, pediatricians like Dr. Allen Greene generally say that this is a bad idea. A young baby’s digestive system is not ready to handle solid food at a young age and adding cereal to a baby’s bottle can give him an upset tummy. Additionally, the extra calories in the milk can disrupt his natural ability to stop eating when he’s had enough, causing obesity problems later in life.

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