Cereal: Why is baby cereal recommended as a first food?

My six-month-old nurses and has just started solid foods. He was never thrilled about the rice cereal. Why is cereal often offered as a first food?

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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

Cereal is usually promoted as a good first food because, mixed with breastmilk or formula, it has a nice balance of carbohydrate, fat and protein -- that, along with the fact that it is iron-fortified, which is an important supplemental mineral for babies at the age they begin to eat solid foods, makes it a common first food choice. Another plus is that the consistency can be varied to accommodate baby's preference.

Cereal as a first food for baby is not written in stone. You are wise to listen to your baby. You can offer mashed bananas or sweet potatoes. Many babies enjoy their sweetness.

Since your little one doesn't like cereal now, just drop it for a while and go back to it later. He may grow to like it as he experiences different solids. It may be that he will prefer a different grain, like oats or barley. You may also try mixing sweet potatoes or bananas into the cereal to help make it more appealing.

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