The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to introduce cereal to babies when they are between 4 and 6 months old, says Dr. Henry Bernstein at Family Education. Up until that age, infants require only breast milk or formula to meet their nutritional needs. Bernstein explains that infants who gain adequate amounts of weight and produce about six wet diapers each day are usually obtaining sufficient calories from food. Dr. Vincent Ianelli at Keep Kids Healthy agrees that parents should not introduce cereal to infants who are too young, because it could put them at greater risk of developing food allergies.
Watch your child for signs of readiness that suggest she is ready for solid food. These signs include the ability to support her own head, using her tongue to push food out of her mouth and a demonstration of interest in the foods that you are eating, says Bernstein.
Mix 1 tbsp. rice cereal with your baby's usual breast milk or formula, and feed it to your baby using a spoon at feeding time. "Rice cereal tends to be less allergy-provoking than some other foods," says Bernstein. The familiar taste of the milk will help your baby accept the new texture of cereal.
Wait a few minutes before trying to feed your baby again if he rejects the rice cereal. It is usual for babies to initially reject new tastes and textures, says Bernstein.
Increase the amount of rice cereal each time you feed your baby until she accepts 3 to 4 tbsp. cereal at one or two feeding times during the day.
Introduce other cereals to feed to your baby, such as oats, barley and wheat, by mixing them with breast milk or formula in the same quantities as before.
Tips & Warnings
- Wait a few days before you introduce a different food to your baby. This enables you to watch for any diarrhea, bloating, rashes "or other signs or symptoms that may occur because of an allergic reaction to a food," says Bernstein.
- Consult with your pediatrician about introducing wheat cereal to your baby if any wheat allergies or celiac disease is present in your family, recommends the Wholesome Baby Food website.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
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