What Is Baby Cereal?
You may have heard lots of talk (and lots of opinions!) about what baby’s first foods should be. Most pediatricians recommend starting with a baby cereal (as opposed to a fruit or veggie) so that your little one can get used to swallowing something with a texture that is thicker than milk or formula. Baby cereal also provides a great deal of iron, 2 servings a day will provide 90% of baby’s iron. When people say “baby cereal” they don’t mean Cheerios, a common first finger food. When choosing first solids, babies need something that is still fairly liquidy and very soft. Baby cereal is a single grain cereal that is very fine, creating a mushy and smooth texture. There are three choices of grains for baby cereal: rice, oat, and wheat. It is often recommended that you begin with rice or oat cereal first.
There are many brands, and many choices within each brand, which can make it seem a bit overwhelming. When choosing a cereal, you want to make sure that the first one you pick is clearly labeled for baby as a single grain cereal. We tried a few different ones with my son, but our favorites were the Gerber baby cereals. They clearly indicate what age group each cereal is for as well as how to prepare it. Once we moved past the single grain ones, we were able to try multi-grain as well as cereals mixed with fruits. You can find all the Gerber Baby Cereal products on Amazon.
When you do pick a cereal to try, it is recommended that you try only that one cereal for several days so you can monitor baby for allergies or reactions. This way, you can pinpoint exactly what changed in baby’s diet, should there be an adverse reaction.
You can find baby cereal at most grocery stores as well as stores like Target and Walmart.
When Can I Feed Baby Cereal?
Depending on your individual baby, and your pediatrician’s recommendation, babies can start trying solid foods between four and six months old. Before four months old, babies have not yet developed the skills needed to swallow solids properly. You want to look for the characteristics of a supported sitter before attempting to spoon feed cereal. These characteristics include:
- Having control over head and neck, allowing baby to sit with little support or help
- Ability to turn head from side to side
- Able to push themselves up with elbows straight while laying on stomach
- Leans toward spoon with an open mouth
If baby pushes spoon out of his or her mouth when you attempt to spoon feed, then baby isn’t quite ready. Try again in a day or two. Eventually they will get there!
How Do I Prepare Baby Cereal?
You can find detailed instructions on each box. Baby cereal is already cooked, so you just need to add liquid. You can serve at room temperature or warm. For babies under a year, it is recommended that you use breast milk or infant formula to mix the cereal. For babies over a year, you may also use water or milk.
It is not recommended that you microwave breast milk. If you are microwaving the cereal, be sure to set your microwave at 50% power, because the small amount of cereal (1 Tbsp – 1/4 cup) will heat quickly!
What Supplies Do I Need to Feed Baby?
Before you start that first feeding, make sure you have all your new feeding supplies! You will need a place for your child to sit safely (preferably a highchair with safety straps). You will also need a bowl and spoon that are safe for baby (plastic, silicone, etc.). Don’t forget the bib, burp cloth, and the camera!
What If Baby Doesn’t Like It?
Don’t worry! In all honesty, they probably won’t! It will be a totally new experience for them. You will probably get lots of funny faces and confused looks from baby. But, keep at it, eventually, little by little, you and your baby will get the hang of this new way to feed and eat. This first little step is what will lead to all the fun foods that baby will get to try next!