According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, you should start your baby on solids between four and six months (Source). Every child is different, so it also depends on when your child is ready for solid food. There is no need to worry if your baby eats more or less than the recommended amount of food. But, it’s always a good idea to discuss your baby’s diet plan of solid foods with your child’s pediatrician. Cereal is a traditional first food in the United States of America, but it is okay if you want to give your baby a taste of mashed fruits and vegetables first.
When to Start Feeding Baby Table Food?
You can look for these signs in your baby to find out if he is developmentally ready for solids:
- Your child can sit with little or no support.
- If your child has good head control.
- Your baby acts curious, especially around you when you are eating.
- If your child opens his mouth and leans forward when you offer him food.
Give your child one food at a time first and see if he likes it, or has any food allergies. Wait three to five days before you give him another new food. If your baby doesn’t like a certain food, then you can consult with his pediatrician to see if your baby has any food allergies? Some of the most common allergenic foods are eggs, milk, fish, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, soybeans, and wheat. If your family has a history of food allergy, then your child is likely to have it too.
According to research, kids need to be exposed to a wide variety of foods and textures. Some babies need multiple tastes of a certain food before accepting it.
What to Feed Your Baby at Age 4 to 6 Months?
- Breast milk, or Formula
- Pureed vegetables, such as squash, sweet potatoes
- Try pureed fruit, such as peaches, bananas, apples
- Pureed meat, such as pork, chicken, beef
- Semi-liquid, iron-fortified cereal
- Small portions of unsweetened yogurt (no cow’s milk until your child is age one)
How Much to Feed in a Day?
- Begin with about one teaspoon of cereal or pureed food. Mix cereal with four to five teaspoons of breastmilk or formula to make semi-liquid baby cereal.
- After some time, increase the amount of pureed food or cereal to one tablespoon. Mix one tablespoon of cereal with breast milk or formula, twice a day. You can gradually thicken the consistency of the cereal by using less liquid.
How to Introduce Baby Cereal to a Baby?
The amount of iron that is stored in babies when they are in the uterus declines gradually closer to birth. Also, It is at an all-time low at around nine months. Hence, iron-fortified baby cereal is what your child needs as good early food to regain the iron. Use breastmilk or formula with single-grain cereal to create a semi-liquid mixture to feed your baby. Once your baby learns to swallow runny cereal, gradually thicken the cereal consistency by using less liquid and more cereal.
Feed your baby one teaspoon of iron-fortified cereal mixed with breast milk or formula per day from age four to six months and increase this amount to one tablespoon per day, by gradually thickening its consistency. As your baby grows to age six to eight months, start feeding him iron-fortified cereals of oats or barley. Feed your baby three to nine tablespoons of cereal in two or three feedings per day.
Start feeding your baby iron-fortified cereals of barley, wheat, oats, or mixed cereals as he turns eight to ten months. You can feed 1/4 to 1/2 cup of iron-fortified cereal to your baby per day. By the time your baby turns 10 to 12 months, continue feeding him iron-fortified barley, wheat, oats or mixed cereals in the same amount.
How to Feed Baby Rice Cereal?
Rice cereal has been used as an early food for babies for decades now. It tastes good, is iron-fortified, easy to digest, and takes very little time to prepare. But, the dieticians and pediatricians today don’t recommend the use of rice cereal as an ideal early or first food for your child. Instead of rice cereal, meat, beans, poultry tofu, and enriched pasta have become common as early foods for babies.
Food that is rich in iron should be introduced to the baby as early as solid food. Babies need an intake of 11 milligrams of iron per day for healthy growth and development. Iron is essential for the healthy development of the brain and the production of red blood cells. Rice cereal is rich in iron, but this iron is the kind that your body doesn’t absorb well. Heme iron that is found in poultry, meat, and fish is easy to absorb, whereas non-heme iron that is found in rice cereal, lentils, beans, enriched pasta, dried fruits, and leafy greens is not easy to absorb.
Rice also contains small traces of arsenic, a chemical that rice grains soak up from soil and groundwater. Excessive intake of arsenic has detrimental effects on children’s immune systems. Rice, in any form, should not be served to children at all three daily meals. Brown rice contains more arsenic compared to white rice. It happens because the chemical stays trapped in the outer fibrous hull of the grain.
There are several other, healthier, iron-rich food options available. Meat tops them all, but meat alone cannot satisfy the need of 11 milligrams of iron that your baby’s body needs every day. A variety of food combinations can be formed to provide the nutrients that your baby needs for healthy growth. Include foods like dark poultry, red meat, egg yolks, or baby cereal made from barley, oats, wheat, or quinoa in your baby’s solid food plan.
When Should I Start Feeding My Baby Rice Cereal?
People who feed rice cereal to their babies (despite its unhealthy and harmful impacts on the children) usually start it when the baby turns four to six months. Sometimes the baby is ready for solid food as early as he turns three months.
How to Start Feeding My Baby Cereal in a Bottle?
According to research, feeding children rice cereal before bedtime makes them sleep longer. Some people are tempted to try this “cereal in the bottle” trick to give some extra sleep time to their children. Baby cereal shouldn’t be fed to the baby through a bottle unless his pediatrician recommends it. It will also make it harder for your baby to learn to eat from a spoon.
Feeding baby cereal to your kid, who only gulps or inhales breastmilk and hasn’t learned to swallow food yet, through a bottle can have deadly consequences.
Read Our Guide on Best Baby Cereals
In the market for the best baby cereal? Check out this guide comparing the features of some of the best ones in our opinion.
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