When Should Your Baby Start Solids?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants consume breastmilk exclusively for the first six months of their lives. After that, parents and caregivers can begin to introduce solids. However, they should still give their babies breastmilk or formula until the child is one year old.
Age isn’t the only guideline that parents should look at when deciding whether to feed their children solids. Babies must be developmentally ready to consume thicker textures. When infants eat viscous foods, such as rice cereal, they must be able to transfer the material from the front of their mouth to the back so that they can swallow it.
Children that push the baby food out with their tongue may not be ready for solids. If the tongue reflex has settled down, look for these other signs that your little one is prepared to eat solid food:
- Your child can hold his or her head up steadily
- Your little one can sit with some support
- Your infant puts hands and toys to his or her mouth
- Your baby leans toward your food or tries to grab your utensils
Should You Give Your Baby Rice Cereal as a First Food?
If your infant seems ready for solids, you might wonder what to offer as a first food. Initial foods should be simple and minimally processed. While you should pay attention to the nutrients that you feed your child, he or she will not be eating a large volume to begin with. Most of your infant’s nourishment will continue to come from breastmilk or formula throughout the first year of life.
Many parents and doctors recommend giving a child rice cereal as a first food. A single-grain cereal contains simple ingredients. It’s processed in a way that allows it to soften quickly when it’s mixed with liquid.
If you choose to offer cereal, you can mix it with formula or breastmilk. You don’t have to choose cereal as a first food, though. It’s highly processed, and it doesn’t contain many nutrients.
Some experts argue that cereal is fortified with nutrients that are important for a developing infant, such as iron. Still, others suggest that it’s preferable to get those nutrients from real foods, such as meats, fruits and vegetables.
If you choose to avoid rice cereal, you can give a single-ingredient vegetable as a first food. Try different foods every three or four days so that you can monitor your baby’s reaction to each one.
Should You Put Rice Cereal and Formula in a Bottle?
Because you’re supposed to mix rice cereal with formula or breastmilk anyway, you might think it’s more convenient to mix the dry ingredients with the liquid directly in a bottle. It becomes a watery mess anyway, and it’s not easy to spoon feed a child such a drippy soup.
At the time that they’re ready for solids, babies need to begin using the muscles in their mouths and jaws to eat. Spoon-feeding is preferable because it encourages children to control their oral motor function.
Giving your child solids is going to be messy. The cereal will run down your child’s chin. Babies will put their fingers in the mixture and run it through their hair. They’ll throw the bowl or cup on the floor.
This is part of the learning process. Allowing little ones to explore the foods that they eat gives them access to a wide variety of sensations and textures.
If you focus on wiping up every dribble and keep the spoons and bowls away from your child, they may not get the developmentally appropriate experience that helps them learn how to hold a spoon or connect it with their mouth. You should avoid putting rice cereal in a bottle for the same reason. It’s not developmentally appropriate.
Putting rice cereal in a bottle can also be dangerous. Babies may inhale the cereal, breathing it into their airways. It’s better to wait until your child is developmentally ready for solids and introduce those types of foods with a spoon.
Can Mixing Rice Cereal With Formula Help Your Baby Sleep?
Because mixing rice cereal with formula in a bottle was a common practice a few decades ago, well-meaning friends or relatives may suggest that you do so. They may not be up to date with the current expert recommendations, though.
Some parents believe that adding rice cereal to a bottle will help their baby sleep more soundly. However, studies show that it doesn’t make a difference. Plus, if your infant doesn’t have the digestive enzymes that are necessary to break down grains, the child could wake up frequently due to tummy troubles.
Protect your infant’s health by offering the best foods possible. If you use formula, choose organic options that don’t have harmful additives. At Tastyganics, we strive to offer the safest products for your family.