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Advice from Breastfeeding Moms on Cereal/solids?

So, I'm confused about solids. My girls are 5 months. We experimented with cereal yesterday. They both gobbled up 2 TB cereal each, mixed watery with breast milk. But I wondered about what the purpose of cereal really is anyway?? Why is it a first step? Can't they just use their hands and pick up a mushy pear/sweet potato instead, and skip the rice cereal business? I feel like we're forcing it into their mouths with a spoon...even though they seemed to go with it. But what's the point? It's messy.

Also, I didn't notice that they had a drop less time on the boob. Does this change? Does rice cereal lead to less milk consumption? My girls both ate the same if not more yesterday, even though they had 6 TBS of cereal over the course of the day each!

Thanks!!!

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Infants start out with rice cereal for a few reasons. First, rice cereal unlike the other grains and foods (like fruits and vegetables) is less likely to cause a reaction (which you want to avoid at this age) and is easy on the young digestive system. Also, starting to eat at this age is not so much for nutrition but to get the baby used to solid food and swallowing so at about six+ months when the extra nutrition is needed the baby would have gotten some practice at eating. Don't worry, the time for more fun foods like fruits and vegetables will come soon.

I didn't read everyone's but the other aspect is the bowel movement changes. Breastmilk is gives the mustard runny stuff and the solids firm it up and make more difficult to pass so they need time to have their body get use to it. Too fast can constipate and bloat them. Never fun especially with two. I did the cereal, than veggies than fruit and last meat(real stuff cut little).
I did the solids 3 days than a new one. After establishing several I started mixing them and giving a new one in the morning and an already tried one at niight type thing. If they don't like one keep trying it. They are just like us somedays you want carrots somedays you would rather have peas.
Enjoy it it goes fast!

More Answers

The purpose of rice cereal really depends on who you ask. Neither of my boys ever really ate it or any other baby food. We went right to mushy foods they can pick up with their hands. This is generally called Baby Led Solids or Baby Led Weaning- but basically you start them on soft table foods and let them go from there. It's worked wonderfully for two kids for me! I will warn you though- any food is going to be messy at this age- it's pretty hard to avoid.

As far as solids leading to less breast milk consumption- it's not really going to make much of a difference. At this age solids are more about teaching them about tastes and textures in preparation for real eating than it is about nutrition. Breast milk should still be their primary source of nutrition until at least age 1.

Info on solids for breastfeeding moms: http://www.kellymom.com/nutrition/solids/solids-how.html

Info on Baby Led Solids:
http://www.babycenter.com.au/baby/startingsolids/babyledw...

I hope this helps! And I must add that I really applaud you for nursing twins!

R.

2 moms found this helpful

I think the whole point of starting with rice cereal is to get babies used to solid foods. It is supposed to be one of the blandest and easiest to digest foods to start with. I don't think it is supposed to make the baby less hungry or anything like that. It's just supposed to introduce them to solid foods.

I didn't read everyone's but the other aspect is the bowel movement changes. Breastmilk is gives the mustard runny stuff and the solids firm it up and make more difficult to pass so they need time to have their body get use to it. Too fast can constipate and bloat them. Never fun especially with two. I did the cereal, than veggies than fruit and last meat(real stuff cut little).
I did the solids 3 days than a new one. After establishing several I started mixing them and giving a new one in the morning and an already tried one at niight type thing. If they don't like one keep trying it. They are just like us somedays you want carrots somedays you would rather have peas.
Enjoy it it goes fast!

Hi P. - Welcome to the messy phase!! Cereal does quite a few things, but one of the biggest things is that it transitions them from liquids (sucking) to solids (chewing), and also they can get used to thicker and thicker textures, which is why at first, it feels like you're forcing into their mouths. They're so used to sucking and need to learn how to chew before attempting toddler food. Also cereal is loaded with minierals that are healthy for your baby girls.
At this point, your girls will probably be cosuming the same amount of milk. I'm sure you know this, but always breastfeed first, and then offer cereal. Breast milk is still vital right now, but when they're this age, they're growing like weeds, and they just need more in their bellies. Since they're downing the cereal, I would take that as a good sign that they are ready for more! My pediatrician recommended to keep feeding my girl until she turned away/didn't open her mouth.
I'd give a quick call to your girls' pediatrician and get some guidance from him/her.

The main use I found for the cereal was just in getting growing babies to sleep through the night. Mixing it into the last bottle feeding at night gives them a bit more substance so that they are less likely to wake hungry during the night, and by giving it in a bottle, you avoid the mess of spoon feeding. Otherwise, you're right; pears, potatoes, Cheerios, all finger foods are great, easier choices for daytime feeding--they have more nutrition. But, to get babies to sleep through the night, especially during a growth spurt, the cereal supplement is a definite help, unless you want to give baby finger food right before bed. The other reason cereal, especially rice cereal, is used as a first step, is that it's usually acceptable to picky eaters who object to trying new flavors or textures. If that's not an issue for your twins, count your blessings and keep doing what you're doing! :)

P.,
I agree w/ the moms about introducing the cereal and veggies and fruits and about how it is to get them use to solids. But bottom line is also that your girls are also only 5 motnhs old. We are introducing solids earlier than ever. It use to be between 6-8 months. Now doctors are introducing solids as early as 2-3 months and babies systems are not ready. You introduce cereal/veggies when you think they are ready. They will cue you. They will show interest in food by leaning into your food or reaching for your food. Babies can go for many months on breastmilk alone. My youngest went 8 months before eating anything but breastmilk and he is my healthiest son - meaning he is hardly ever sick. No need to rush it. You are the mom who knows your children the best!!! The doctors mean well but they are not w/ your kids 24/7 and no 2 kids are alike! Hope this helps. A.

hi P.,
cereal is just easy. it mixes with milk to a nice 'first time' consistency and is bland and babies tend to like it. you can start with fruits or veggies if you'd rather, the only caveat being that fruits are so sweet that it's hard to move 'em to more bland or strong tastes if you begin there.
i'm giggling a little at you expecting a big change in their nursing habits after the first day with a couple of spoonfuls of cereal!
:D
khairete
S.

as far as i know, the cereal give them folic acid and other stuff they need at this point. also, practicing chewing and swallowing with cereal is where they're at developmentally, though you can quickly move to thicker cereal if they can handle the runny stuff. it shouldn't affect at all how much milk they need, since they're getting the majority of their calories from milk.

picking up mushy food would be way more messy and they'd probably not be able to get it into their mouths successfully for a few more months. also they could choke on it at this point. they can practice with "puffs" or "rusks". they need pincer grips to really be good at self-feeding.

if they're good with getting the cereal down, you can start with mushed up veggies. also yogurt.

your ped. should be giving you advice about this stuff. also can check the american assoc. of pediatrics website for advice.

good luck! it's messy for a long time til they can handle the fork and spoon competently!

P.

The point of starting babies on cereal is to gradually learn them to cope with more than just milk in there mouths & to learn how to chew. The introduction of solids has to be gradual & cereal is quite bland so this is why it is a popular first food, once they have had this a few times and they are having no issues you can then add a bit of pureed fruit to it.To you and I baby cereal does appear very bland but to a 5 month old who has only known milk it is a drastic change. Not many 5 month olds has the hand/eye coordination that is required to be able to pick up food & put it in there mouths. Another point of giving cereal is to help satisfy them for longer , there will come a point when milk alone is not enough. Yes feeding babies is messy but this is how they learn , if you think it's bad now then wait until they want to feed themselves , then you will know what messy is!!

Good luck and enjoy this next chapter.

K.

I look at solids as a learning time. I like to use things they can feed themselves. You don't have to start with cereal some people think it can lead to more allergies. La Leche League recommends starting with fruits and veggies for solids. The more they eat of other things the less they will take of breastmilk. It is the beginning of weaning when you introduce anything other than the breast. I have also found that some kids love solids and go crazy eating them and others are not interested until they are older and just enjoy playing with them. It is a mess either way but it is good for them to explore different tastes and textures.

Infants start out with rice cereal for a few reasons. First, rice cereal unlike the other grains and foods (like fruits and vegetables) is less likely to cause a reaction (which you want to avoid at this age) and is easy on the young digestive system. Also, starting to eat at this age is not so much for nutrition but to get the baby used to solid food and swallowing so at about six+ months when the extra nutrition is needed the baby would have gotten some practice at eating. Don't worry, the time for more fun foods like fruits and vegetables will come soon.

The information about how breastfed babies are deficient in X, Y, and Z nutrient is bunk. This is as compared to formula fed babies who are overdosed on certain things that cannot be delivered with the same bioavailability as breastmilk. Your child will be just fine with just your milk for AT LEAST 6 months, and most breastfed children, baring metabolic diseases, will be just fine on only breastmilk until they are a year old. Both of my children never had a drop of formula and were not really interested in solids until they were a year old and never had a low iron test. I tore my hair out trying to force feed my first because I didn't know any better and was following the guidelines set for her formula fed peers who were getting substandard nutrition and needed the micronutrients that the purees provided. There is nothing wrong with offering your infant appropriate table foods when she is ready. Signs your baby is ready include sitting without support (they don't topple over if you sit them up), firm pincer grasp, interest in what you are eating, are able to bring things to their mouth, AND reduced tongue thrust. If they are missing one of these, they they probably aren't ready. Good whole weaning foods are avocado slices, soft cooked carrots, skinned and sliced baked potato, banana slices. These foods will be easily eaten when it is developmentally appropriate. And since you have twins, if they were born early, you should wait until they are at least 6 months old plus however long you were early. For example if you were a month early, hold off on introducing anything else until they are 7 months. With my second child I waited until 6 months, tried the purees to satisfy my mother and mother in law and then did whole foods. My second daughter did much better learning to eat real food at her developmental pace and I didn't have messy and expensive purees to fight with. Now there are days she eats more than my three year old.

And yes, adding solids will reduce the amount of breastmilk they consume. At this age it's recommended to wait, but when they reach 6 months, you should breastfeed first then offer solids. Cereal and purees are empty of calories compared to breastmilk, and rob infants of the necessary calories for good growth. If your girls have weight problems please wait a little longer on solids as it cannot compare to the calorie dense breastmilk when it comes to good nutrition and growth. 6 tablespoons is way too much for a 5 month old in a single day. Also watch their diapers and gas sounds for constipation. Rice cereal is very binding. Keep up the good work breastfeeding those babies! It sounds like you're doing a great job.

The most important thing to keep in mind when introducing solids is that breastmilk and/or formula should be the primary source of nourishment for the first year of life. Cereals, foods, etc are simply for practice and fun, they are in no way to be seen as a nutritional substitute. Therefore, if you notice the girls are nusring less, you should scale back the solids they are eating.

As for why we start with pureed, liquidy foods there are a couple reasons. The first is that their digestive systems need to learn how to handle these other things, and it is easier for that to happen when the foods are on the runny side. There is also the baby's need to develop the skill to "chew" and swallow the food. You can gradually make the foods thicker by adding less liquid or more cereal.

There actually are some babies that refuse to eat the liquid purees and do skip ahead to the chunkier foods. However, babies generally don't have the pinser grip (thumb and index finger) or the hand-eye-mouth coordination needed for self-feeding until 6-9 months.

Also, just a caution, be careful with feeding too much of the foods in the BRAT diet (Banana, Rice, Apple, Toast) within a short amount of time as they are binding foods. Rice cereal left my son consitpated, so we gave him oatmeal instead. Once we introduced foods he was fine with the rice. I mix rice cereal with veggies and oatmeal with fruits.

Hi, your instincts are right on. Give her little pieces of mushy carrot, peas, potato, fruit, etc. Enough that she can grasp and learn to feed herself. Healthy "O's" are good to. That is what I did with my son whom I breastfed until he weaned himself. It did eventually affect how much of his diet was breastmilk, as it should. Now is the time to start letting them experiment with feeding themselves. You and they will get so much pleasure out of watching them chase a petite pea and then that smile of satisfaction and accomplishment and taste! Keep up the good work! Good luck! L.

My pediatrician is also a holistic nutritionist. When my son was little she had a few words of wisdom regarding first foods. She suggested starting with veggies first and fruits. Veggies first as to not starting sweet things right away. More importantly, she diverges from the rice cereal first. She told me that she has seen more children with constipation and intestinal issues when first started on cereal. Think about it as if coming off a fast. The first thing you eat are fresh fruit and veggies. The body takes a longer time to digest grains. The old theory of using cereal was to fill up the baby so it would sleep longer. It will drop their nursing time as well.
L. M

I agree, whats the point, other than to teach them to eat food and from a spoon. I would probably either mix the cereal w/ a little fruit or skip it all together, and just do a fruit or preferably a vegetable. Have you tasted the cereal?...it tastes like cardboard. LOL
At that age their appetite may increase so that is why they can still BF just as long even though they are eating cereal. Food should just be a supplement at this age anyway, so thats all good.
As their appetite increases and they learn to like the food they will back off on their own from the BF'ing at which time you can increase the foods.
Just be careful if you want to make your own baby food. I read that certain veggies have a more concentrated amount of vitamins that arent so great for babies. YOu might want to research which veggies are best homemade. I dont want to tell you the wrong thing, but its interesting to know.

Rice cereal is a necesary step because babies have a hard time adjusting to swallowing different textures. My son started with rice cereal and then after he was opening his mouth to take it from a spoon and was doing well with mush consistency cereal around 6 months, we added orange veggies and then green veggies. Once he was eating 4 oz of rice cereal and 4 oz of fruit/veggies twice a day, so a total of 16 oz a day he started to nurse less. Then he kept eating more things and less nursing and now he wants to nurse 3/4 times a day and eats 6oz of rice cereal and 10 oz of fruit and veggies twice a day. So yes rice cereal does lead to being able to eat other things. Most recently at 8 months my son has figured out how to eat banana puffs. It is a huge help to allow him to feed himself! But at first he would gag on it and still if his food is not pureed fine enough he wont eat it. So there is a learning curve to eating solids starting with mush.

Hope that helps!

I have twins, too, and I hear your frustration. It is tempting to push this stuff along and try and get more breaks, less breast feeding, more sleep. The whole thing is exhausting! But, if you just started yesterday, then they should only have had one feeding of 1-2 tbs (per child), generally in the morning. You continue that schedule for at least 2 weeks, giving their bodies the opportunity to gradually adjust to how to process the new food. There are two things that are going on in this first stage: 1) they have to learn how to push the food from the front of their mouth to the back of their mouth and then swallow without choking, and 2) their digestive system has to learn how to process proteins and other nutrients other than what is found in breast milk. They are not deriving actual nutritional benefit from the rice cereal (or any other solid food) at this time. Thus, if you give them too much, you will be essentially replacing a food source (breast milk) with a non-food-source filler (rice cereal), and you are depriving your daughters of essential nutrients. So go easy on the quantity of food at this early stage.

At 5 months, your girls also lack the hand-eye-mouth coordination, not to mention the swallowing skill, to self-feed. If you think it's messy to feed them rice cereal, go ahead, offer them a bowl of pureed pears and see what happens. Eventually, they will develop the coordination to try and feed themselves, but that's months off for you, and once it happens, things get very very messy indeed as they will insist on trying to feed themselves and the food will go everywhere.

You should talk with your pediatrician about this, but the general rule for starting solids is rice cereal once a day (usually the morning) for two weeks, by the end of which time you should be increasing the feeds to 2 tbs of cereal and reduce the milk so that it looks more like oatmeal and less like thick milk. After two weeks of that, add a second feed, also 2 tbs, in the evening. It is at that point that you [may] start to see some improvement in their sleep as a result of the evening feed. (There are mixed messages as far as whether or not to put cereal in a bottle, but generally it's not a good idea b/c it's a choking hazard.) When you add the second meal, you can also introduce a fruit puree; a lot of people start with pears or sweet potatoes, either of which is fine. Stick with one food, added to the cereal & breast milk, for at least 3-4 days and preferably a week to allow their systems to adjust. After that, you can add a new food (fruit or veggies only until at least 9 mos) every 3-4 days, watching closely for any signs of allergy (rash on the face or elsewhere on the body, wheezing, hives... your pediatrician should have given you a list of things to look for). You can also switch to oatmeal (baby oatmeal, not adult oatmeal), which is thicker and tends to keep them satiated longer, and is also often less constipating than rice cereal. Over the course of the next few weeks increase the feedings to about 4tbs of cereal plus fruit/veggie puree. After a couple months of this, you can add a third feeding at lunch time. For us, the third feeding was always a veggie w/out the cereal/breast milk added to it, to change up the flavor and texture a bit and increase their experimentation.

So, yes, eventually the solids that you introduce will reduce the amount of breast milk that they consume, but that takes time and you need to go slowly in order to ensure that your girls are getting what they need. Right now you're training them and their bodies to process foods. And please don't give them cheerios as someone suggested at this stage: there are way too many ingredients for them to process, not the least of which is refined sugar, and plus they're a choking hazard for several more months. You will know your girls are ready for finger foods like cheerios when they have had wheat and other grains (after rice cereal and oatmeal you can introduce a multi-grain cereal, but remember not to introduce more than one new food every 3-4 days), and they have the pincer grasp skill to get the cheerios into their own mouths.

Also, as your child's system develops, you can start introducing new foods more quickly, like every other day. That usually starts around 9 months.
Your pediatrician should also have given you a list of foods to avoid for the first year or so. Usually on that list are: strawberries, refined sugar, tree nuts and nut butters, cow's milk (you can introduce whole milk yogurt at about 9 or 10 months and pasteurized cheese at about 10 or 11 months), tuna and honey until at least a year; shellfish, peanuts and peanut butter until at least 18 mos. I hope I'm not forgetting any, this is just off the top of my head. I'm sure others (and your pediatrician) can add to that list.

Sorry this is so long, I hope it's helpful. Good luck!

In addition to getting babies used to different textures and so forth, cereals are fortified with Iron to help prevent anemia. I did not start with Rice cereal, I did things like avocado, there is a great baby food website www.wholesomebabyfood.com

Our doctor did recommend Oatmeal since I did not do rice cereal, but we also started small amounts of meat at 7 months. The Iron is very important.

The point is that it's not such a leap from breastmilk, tastewise. Also Rice Cereal is the least likely to stimulate an allergy so in theory it's the safest to start with. It can also be thinned with breastmilk very easily and baby can become accustomed to the thicker texture while still having the comfort of the taste they know and love. The gerber cereals (and probably other brands too) are also fortified with iron amongst other things, and breastfed infants are typically short on iron. Once they're ready for solids, baby's nutritional needs go through some changes and the infant cereals are engineered to address those changes and provide the nutrients that they aren't getting from breastmilk.

About using their hands, babies aren't ready to self-feed until 8 months or so, so don't worry about that. They're going to need the spoon for a little while yet.

And just a note about quantity, you're girls are eating very well for their first foray into solids. 2 Tbsp in a sitting is really good for a first-timer.

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