It is normal to ponder upon the opportune time to feed cereals to babies. If you are also perplexed by the query regarding when babies start eating cereal, it may be learned that the first few months they must not be given solids.
The initial months following a baby’s birth, they require only formula or breast milk for their nourishment. Milk is known to contain all the nutrients that they need for their development, in addition to being the only foodstuff that their tiny-sized bodies can process.
However, when the toddlers are between the ages of 4-6 years, they reach a stage where they become physically active and can be considered ready for the intake of solid foods.
As a result of the baby’s natural reflexes, they can suck milk from the mother’s nipple. You may also notice that if a spoon is placed on the infant’s lips before they are four months of age, they will push it away and is an indicator that they are unable to digest the solid foods.
About the Baby’s Digestive System
It is essential to remember that the baby’s digestive system is not developed to metabolize solids, and if they are fed cereals at an early stage, they could suffer from stomach-related complaints, food allergies, and bowel-linked problems such as constipation.
It is not advised to add cereals in the toddler’s bottle in the first few months unless they have an illness such as gastro-esophageal reflux, and only after consulting the medical experts.
If you are wondering when babies start eating cereal, then bear in mind that the age between 4-6 months is considered normal for the toddlers to consume solid-based foods. However, where premature babies are concerned, they may be prepared at a later stage.
Cereal Consumption – Signs and Signals
There are various signs that can be considered as signals that the child is equipped for cereal consumption.
- They can sit up on their own without support and control their head
- Their interest towards food becomes strong. You may also perceive that they will watch closely and lean for reaching the food item.
- You may perceive that they can close their mouths around the spoon. Also, they can use their tongue as well as lips for swallowing the food rather than throwing it away.
- Their appetite seems to increase, and they are hungrier than usual.
The first solid food recommended for infants are cereals. These items are filled with nutritional compounds, and the babies can practice eating with the help of a spoon. It is advisable to give them the iron-fortified varieties due to the rich iron content which aids their progress. They must be given rice cereals at first and followed by barley and oat-based ones.
The wheat-comprised and mixed cereals should be offered afterward as these can give birth to allergic reactions. Pursue offering them with only a single new food over a period of 2-3 days and keep an eye for any untoward reactions such as rashes, diarrhea, or nauseous sensations. In the event of these symptoms being noticed, the foods are to be discontinued and the doctors must be consulted.
Infant-based cereals are available in pre-mixed varieties in a container, or the different types can be mixed. During the early stages, you may add one teaspoon of dry cereals and mix in 4-5 teaspoons of mother’s milk or formula. It is important to adjust the quantity of the liquid for getting the consistency that the babies will find easy to swallow.
Opt for the thinner cereals and gradually move on to the thicker ones depending upon the baby’s ability to ingest with ease. Normally, the toddlers are seen consuming a few teaspoons of cereals during meal-times and subsequently their intake increases to ½ cup.
Important Tips on Cereal Feeding
In the following details, we have listed a few tips on feeding cereals to the infants:
- The toddler should be sitting up for avoiding any choking incidences. They can be made to sit on a baby seat, high chair, or the lap.
- Babies create a mess when they are consuming foods. For this reason, babies must be worn You may also need to position a mat on the floor. Also, keep a wet cloth for cleaning the face as it is expected that they will splatter food around.
- The toddlers must be encouraged to eat. You can talk to them or explain about the nutritious value of foods.
- When the babies are being introduced to cereals, you can take a ½ spoon and keep it near their mouths and check if they are opening their mouth. Accordingly, they must be fed by the speed that they find comfortable.
It is normal to wonder when you must stop feeding them. Here, it can be helpful to know that when the toddlers are perceived to be pushing away the food or tightly closing the lips or leaning away or wrinkling their face, it is a sign that they no longer want to be fed. During the first few cereal-intake sessions, it may also be noticed that they are spitting out the food or gagging the mouth. Do not be alarmed in such cases, keep making an effort and gradually they will get accustomed to the custom.
It is important to note that the first year of the baby’s life, milk is their primary source of nutriment. When the baby graduates to consuming cereals, they will continue drinking the same quantity of milk for some time. However, for the following six months, they will receive more nutrients from solids as compared to milk.
When they reach one year of age, you will see that they are relishing milk and solid foods in a balanced ratio comprising of approximately 20 ounces of milk and three meals per day.
It is also natural for the newborn’s bowel movements to be altered after they start consuming cereals. The stools become darker in color and solid in texture as a result of eating cereals. Strong odors may also be emitted during the passing of stools.
This is considered normal and nothing to worry about. But there may be cause for panic if they are suffering from constipation or hardened stools, diarrhea or water-based stools, and blood spots during the bowel movements. In these circumstances, the medical practitioners must be contacted without delay.
Now that your little one is comfortable eating cereals with the help of a spoon, it is the time that they advance to other baby foods including the pureed versions of veggies, meats, and fresh fruits. Try giving them these foods for allowing their development to take place promptly.