According to the American Academy of Pediatricians, before 4-6 months, young infants need nothing but breast milk or formula. There is, of course, a good reason for that: it is a choking hazard and promotes obesity.
I remember the first time I put cereal in my baby’s bottle, she was only a couple of months old, and I was truly exhausted. My grandmother had once told me it would solve the problem of endless nights.
And after some time, one of those nights when you just feel like giving up, I put grandma’s trick into practice, and my little one magically slept through the night! To my surprise, this magic did not work every single night, and that is when I considered asking my pediatrician what I was doing wrong.
I was hoping that the doctor could fix grandma’s magic with some bit of piece of advice. But unfortunately, he only advised that my girl should not be offered cereal or any other solid food until 4 to 6 months of age.
Why putting cereal in a bottle is bad for my baby?
There are 2 major reasons why you wouldn’t want to put cereal in your baby’s bottle.
1. Promotes obesity
In an attempt to soothe a baby crying, we tend to fill our children’s bellies and usually give them solids at too early an age. As a result, we unwillingly keep the child from learning to eat normally and increase the risk of obesity.
Only in rare cases is overweight in small babies caused by a medical condition. One of the most common causes of such a condition is an unhealthy pattern.
Take into consideration that in addition to being hungry, your baby may be crying because she is lonely or bored, or it may be time for a diaper change.
2. It’s a choking hazard
Studies have shown that it is around the age of 4 to 6 months that babies are developmentally ready to incorporate solid food.
Many experts caution parents against this practice at an early age since there is a risk of food being sucked into the airway (aspiration).
It’s nothing to worry about, but it is something parents must keep an eye on. We need to wait till the baby gains the ability to easily move solid food from the front of their mouth to the back for swallowing.
Is 3 months too early for baby cereal?
There is no need to supplement your baby’s diet at such an early age.
Recent studies suggest only one positive effect for babies who start incorporating solids between 4 to 6 months. Exposure to foods at this stage might help lower the risk of the baby developing allergies.
Introducing solid foods at such an early age as 3 months old or younger results in the baby getting less milk throughout their infancy, which lowers the ability to get optimal benefits, like protection against infection, in the case of breast milk.
What is more, when babies get in the habit of feeding before sleep, it is truly arduous to break them off that troublesome habit. Good luck with that!
Does cereal in the bottle help my baby sleep?
Unless suggested by your doctor, there is no rush in supplementing your baby’s liquid diet. It has been proved that adding cereal to your baby’s bottle offers little to no benefit.
Furthermore, parents who have more than one kid and have tried offering solids before the recommended age to one kid, and after that age to the other, assure that there were no changes to sleep patterns by starting solids with any of them.
A longer sleeping pattern is a natural progression as your baby ages, and it will eventually take place. Be patient and just hang in there!
Is your baby ready for solid food?
Giving their first taste of solid food is a big step for a baby, and us parents too. At the ages of 4 to 6 months, babies generally stop using their tongues to push solids out of their mouths and start to develop the coordination for swallowing.
If you are unsure your baby is getting proper nutrition or uncertain about when you can feed your baby solid foods, the best thing to do may be to go by the schedule the pediatrician gives you, but surely not before they reach the age of 4 months.
How do you know if your baby is ready for solid food?
Apart from age, you can also look for other signs that can give you a hint that your little one is ready to incorporate solid foods. For instance, you may observe that they lean forward, opening their mouth every time food is around or when you are having a meal. Also, look for your baby mouthing their toys or hands.
Another sign of the baby being ready to swallow solid food is that they can hold their head steady and in an upright position and sit without any support.
If you find these signs, they may be ready to make the transition. And always remember: When in doubt, talk it out (with your pediatrician.)
How do I introduce solids to my 4 months old?
I would not consider serving it from a bottle. Instead, help your baby sit upright and offer the solid food with a small baby spoon once or twice a day.
From 4 to 6 months, it is suggested that you feed 3 to 4 tablespoons of cereal once a day and 1 to 2 tablespoons of fruits and vegetables once or twice a day.
At this age range, solids should be fed after a nursing session, not before. This way, your baby fills up on breast milk, which should be your baby’s main source of nutrition until they reach the age of 1.
Regardless of the method, we all have the same goal: healthy, full babies who let us get some sleep.
What is the best baby cereal to start with?
Many people considered baby rice cereal to be the best first food for babies.
However, nowadays, the American Academy of Pediatrics just recommends any food that can easily be digested, such as rice, oat, barley, or other single-grain variety.
Although rice cereal is fortified with iron and is easy to digest, many people believe it is not the best option due to the possible arsenic exposure.
If you are one of those people, you can then replace it with oatmeal which is also wheat-free. Therefore, it will not irritate your baby’s stomach if they are allergic or sensitive to gluten.
How should I feed my baby cereal in bottle?
I remember I received too many different opinions regarding what food to give my baby first.
I was so confused at the beginning, but through experience now, I strongly recommend that, whatever you choose to be your baby’s first menu, you should try mixing it up with a little of the milk you have been feeding them.
This will provide a familiar taste and prevent your baby from getting frustrated when they are very hungry.
You can then gradually increase the amount of food with less milk each time until you can finally remove it.
Don’t panic if your little one rejects your first try and the food ends up everywhere but their mouth. You can always clean up the mess afterward. It is all part of this exciting parenting process.
Just allow some time for your baby to learn to swallow solids, give them a break, and try it again in a couple of minutes.
Contrary to what most people think, adding cereal to a baby’s bottle will not help them sleep better, no matter what your grandma suggests. What’s more, it may lead to some health problems such as obesity and aspiration.
Specialists agree that infants should be fed only with breast milk or formula until they reach the age of 4 to 6 months old. So, if you have already tried the trick of putting some cereal into the bottle before bedtime, do not worry!
Many of us have done it, and there is no reason to be ashamed. You are not a bad parent. You are just doing your best to make yours the happiest baby ever, just like the rest of us.
Please, feel free to comment and share your experience with us. We would love to hear what your friends, neighbors, and family suggest and the outcome for that. There are always funny stories to tell!