Perhaps you think your baby is getting bored with the same old, and you’re considering cereal at 3 months.
As a newborn, your baby consumes a lot of formula and breast milk. As a parent, we often wonder how they do not get sick of the same taste over and over again.
Because of this, we tend to wonder when we can start introducing solid foods into their diet to give them more variety in what they eat.
Though as adults, we can never imagine eating or drinking the same thing for every meal every day of our lives, but formula and breast milk is exactly what your child needs to grow and develop.
Can I Give My Baby Cereal at 3 Months? Answer: 6 Months or More is Better
Rice cereal is usually the first “solid” food doctors recommend for your baby, but this will not occur until your child is between the ages of four and six months. For the first few months of their life, your child’s nutrient needs are best met by their mother’s breast milk or their formula, so no cereal at 3 months.
Babies do not benefit from solid foods until they are older. First, they are not developmentally ready to deal with swallowing solids. They are physically unable to move solid food from the front of their mouth to the back for swallowing. Instead, your baby would gag.
Also, your baby’s digestive system cannot break down the complex molecules in proteins, fats and carbohydrates. For this reason, most solid foods would pass right through causing diarrhea, or they may get stuck, causing constipation.
Around the ages of four to six months, your child will be ready for solid food. By this age, your child will be able to move food from the front of their mouth to the back in order to swallow.
Your child’s pediatrician will probably want you to start with an iron-fortified rice cereal. These cereals provide the iron that is necessary in their diet. Also, the grain in rice cereal is less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
Rice Cereal Best at First
Rice cereal is often the first solid food used to introduce your baby to solids because it helps them practice eating and swallowing. Rice cereal is made with gentle ingredients and its smooth texture is developmentally appropriate for your baby. After rice cereal, your pediatrician will probably recommend oatmeal.
Cereal is now fed to your child using a spoon and not inside the bottle (as it was only a few years ago). Before your baby can start cereal, they must be able to sit up properly in a high chair or Bumbo and hold their head steady.
Always start with a small amount to help your baby learn. Cereal should be mixed with formula or breast milk, and eventually can be mixed with applesauce or other pureed fruits. Note that fruits should not be added to your child’s cereal until he or she has mastered cereal alone. Also, be sure to wait at least three days after adding a fruit to your child’s cereal to watch for an allergic reaction.
How to Start on Cereal
When you start cereal, it is best to start at a time where your baby is most alert and happy (and of course, hungry). Use a small baby-size spoon that is coated to protect your baby’s gums. Since your baby will probably try to grab the spoon, place a small amount on their high chair tray so they can feel it.
Before you start feeding, make sure your baby has had a small amount of breast milk or formula so they are not overly hungry, which may make him or her crabby during this process.
If you find that your child does not take to cereal on the first try, do not give up hope. Spitting food back out is a natural reflex for your baby. If your child is screaming or refusing to take the cereal, stop and try again the next day. Starting your child on solids may take a few days for him or her to get used to. After all, the only thing they have used prior to this is a bottle or mom.
Remember, cereal is an important part of your child’s solid-food-eating process, but they’re not ready for cereal at 3 months. Feeding cereal to your child before they are four months of age can be damaging to their digestive system. During your first cereal introduction, be sure to be patient and feed your child when they are happy and mildly hungry. If the process does not go smoothly, do not give up hope. Enjoying solids will take some time.
If you have any questions about feeding cereal to your child, it is recommended you consult your child’s physician. He or she will be able to discuss your concerns more thoroughly.