When you came to know that your little one has developed the skills needed to eat. Congratulations! Then is the right time for you to introduce cereal to your infant’s diet. If you are breastfeeding, doctors suggest waiting until your baby is 6 months old. But your baby might be prepared for having cereals sooner than that.
How do you know?
For eating, babies require good head and neck control and should be capable of sitting in a high chair, which often doesn’t happen until they’re 4 to 6 months old. Also, if you try to feed your baby cereals before this age, you may observe that your baby pushes food out of his mouth just as quickly as you enter. Babies begin to lose this natural tongue-thrusting action at the 4-to-6 month mark, which makes it simpler for them to start eating solid foods like cereals.
Other indicators that babies are ready to eat cereal foods if:
- they’re interested in foods such as they may find others eating, reaching for food and open their mouths when food approaches.
- they have the skills of oral motor which is required to move food to the throat and swallow it.
- they often weigh twice their birth weight, or close to it.
You need to wait until your baby turns atleast 4 months old and shows these signals of readiness before you start introducing cereals. Babies who start cereals before 4 months are at a higher risk of obesity and other problems later on. They aren’t interrelated enough to safely swallow cereals and may choke on the food or inhale it into their lungs.
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When you find the time is right, begin with a single-grain, iron-fortified baby cereal such as rice cereal is considered a traditional food as the first food for babies, but you can begin with anything you prefer. All you need is to start with 1 or 2 tablespoons of cereal mixed with formula, breast milk or water. Another better option is an iron-rich puréed meat. Try feeding your baby with a small baby spoon, and never add cereal in the bottle of your baby until your doctor prescribes for it.
At this stage, cereals can be fed after a nursing session, not before. In this manner, your baby fills up on breast milk, which can be the major source of your baby’s nutrition until your baby turns 1.
When your baby gets the dangle of eating the first cereal, you can now start introducing a variety of other foods like vegetables, beans, puréed fruits, lentils or yoghurt. Observe your baby well for a few days until introducing new foods while ensuring your baby doesn’t have any allergic reaction.
Many experts recommend to introduce common food allergens to babies when they’re 4-6 months old. This consists of babies with a family history of food allergies. In the past, they used to believe that babies should not consume such foods like peanuts, fish or eggs until after their first birthday. But according to the recent studies that advocates waiting till longer periods could make your baby likely to start developing food allergies.
You can offer these foods to your baby as your baby starts eating cereals or solids. Ensure that they’re served in different forms that your baby can easily swallow. You can try adding a small amount of peanut butter mixed into fruit purée or yogurt, or a soft scrambled eggs.
Fruit juices are a strict no-no to babies. There is no benefit to give them juice, even to older babies. Juice can make their tummies full or leave a very little space for more nutritious food or promote obesity in them, cause diarrhea and even put your baby at an increased risk of developing cavities when the teeth start coming in.
So, don’t be in a haste of introducing cereal into the diet of your baby even though you find your baby growing older. Consult a doctor and then plan to add prescribed cereals in your baby’s diet. At last, good health of your baby shows the better signs of you being a good and responsible parent.