Starting solids: Is it safe to offer cereal in a bottle?

My pediatrician recommended that I start feeding my three month old cereal due to his large appetite -- 40 ounces of formula a day. I have started putting the cereal in a bottle and feeding him the cereal that way. Is this safe?

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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

Three months is too early to begin solids. Most babies have not yet established the ability to swallow non-liquid foods.

You should not offer cereal in his bottle because it deprives your baby of the opportunity to learn to eat solids. This recommendation comes directly from the "Pediatric Nutrition Handbook" from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Also, because putting cereal in his bottle increases the caloric density of the formula to such an extent, that in his quest to merely quench his thirst he may end up overeating.

My suggestion to that when he is ready for solid foods -- usually between four and six months of age -- you offer him cereal at the beginning of the feeding when he is most hungry and therefore most motivated to eat it.

Be calm, patient, but persistent in offering it to him. Do not force it. Let him have his early morning wake-up bottle as usual, and then a couple of hours later at breakfast, offer him the cereal.

Be sure it is not too thick, so that eating it becomes a chore. You can gradually increase its consistency as he becomes more adept at eating it. Mix it with the formula that he is used to so that the flavor is somewhat familiar.

You can be assured that as you wait for him to get a bit older, the formula is meeting his nutritional needs.

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