Cereal: When to move on from cereal?

My 5 month old baby currently sleeps through the night and is content throughout the day. She only feeds four times a day and gets iron-fortified cereal at supper. She took the cereal right away and is now up to 1-3 tablespoons. I feed her the cereal after the breast. This has been going on for about 1 month. I've tried the cereal in the morning after her morning feeding but she will not take it.

Should I be feeding her the cereal before the breast? I am worried about this because she already only feeds four times a day and if I fill her up on cereal will she be getting enough milk?

Should I be feeding her other solids as well? Or should I wait until she stops sleeping through the night or begins to feed more frequently during the day?



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

Dear Sheila,

At the young age of five months, your baby should still be getting the majority of her nutrition from breast milk. It is wise that you are allowing her to have that be her main source of nutrition for a short while longer. You have entered a transition period, a time when your baby will be slowly replacing a diet of milk to one of solids and milk.

At the start of the transition period, it is important that the formula or breast feeding take precedence as baby learns the skills of eating solids and continues to develop her immune and digestive system.

You can start to add other solids after she is well established on a couple of cereal feedings a day. The cereal (mixed with breastmilk or formula) provides a good balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat. It also supplies a good amount of calories, and the critical mineral, iron.

Fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, are mostly carbohydrate and have a low caloric density, and are apt to fill a baby's tummy yet not provide needed calories or other important nutrients. Therefore, add fruits and veggies when baby is a little older, and cereal is a staple in her diet.

When your baby is ready for more food, she will probably indicate that she is, by showing signs of hunger after her nursing, or by no longer sleeping through the night. My guess is, that you are enjoying a full night's sleep, and do not want to return to night feedings. Therefore, you will want to try and prevent such and event. I suggest that you do continue to offer her the cereal in the morning after her nursing, so that when the day arrives that she is hungry for it, you are there with it. No doubt a growth spurt is in the offing, and you will be!

You are lucky to have a content baby, who sleeps through the night, and is happy to accept solids. I know there are many parents out there who would be mighty jealous. Congratulations on doing a great job!

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