Cereal: How to start your baby on cereal

I have a three-month-old baby boy. I am wondering how to go about feeding him cereal when he gets ready for it. Do I breastfeed him first and then the cereal? Do I give the cereal then the breastmilk? Do I need to add or subtract a feeding time in his schedule because of the cereal?

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Let me go about answering your questions as you have asked them:

Q. Do I breastfeed him first and then the cereal?
Do I give the cereal then the breastmilk?

A. If you are starting your baby on cereal on the early side, and are unsure of his readiness, it would be best to breastfeed first, and then offer the cereal. This way he can indicate his own readiness. Once you have established that he is ready, than you may want to switch to cereal first and then nursing. This is especially true for an older baby who you want to become established on table foods. A baby ready and needing solids is more receptive to them if they are pleasantly hungry and not filled up and content with breastmilk.

Q. Do I need to add or subtract a feeding time in his schedule because of the cereal?

A. No. Early on, eating cereal is just for the practice. Your son won't eat enough to make a nutritional contribution. It will do the important job of getting him used to solids so that when the day comes that he needs to get significant nutrition from them, he is able. Begin by adding a cereal feeding to the mid-morning nursing. At this time of day your baby hasn't had a chance to get too hungry, plus he will be well rested and more likely to be receptive to a new and unusual experience. If your baby does react to the food, he will not be up all night.

Make the cereal the same temperature as the breast milk he is used to drinking. Make the cereal a very thin consistency. Put the cereal on the tip of the baby spoon and place the spoon between your baby's lips allowing him to "suck" the food off the spoon. For the first few weeks don't put the whole bowl of the spoon in his mouth because it may cause him to gag. Even though he is developmentally ready to swallow solids, he will still need the practice to get it right. You will need to go slowly, allowing him to determine when he's had enough. If you find that your efforts are being pushed away, wait for a few days and try again. He may not be ready.

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