23 answers

Eating Rice Cereal at 20 Weeks

My hubby and I have just started our 20 week old son on rice cereal. The dr. recommended waiting until 5-6 months, but because his evenings are fussy and fairly solidly spent nursing we wanted to try the cereal. I can't definitively say that its making any difference, so I'm considering stopping (he's had it each night for 4 nights). He seems to like it - eats about 1/2 oz.

When did you start with rice cereal? How long did you do only rice cereal/how long until you started other stage one foods? How did you keep them from getting constipated? I'm a first time mom so I'm looking for some real life stories/ideas. Thanks!

I am also trying to pump with a Pump in Style, but can't seem to get any more than 1.5 oz. out of each breast at a time. Any ideas on how to increase that output?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Both my kids hated cereal. We started pears at 4 1/2 months and increased fruits and veggies from there.

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It sounds to me like he's going through a growth spurt. Rice cereal is basically empty of calories. The nursing more is his way of boosting your supply to meet his needs. You can try eating oatmeal, the real stuff not the instant. Also, Mother's Milk tea by Traditional Medicinals is a good start. You might try what is called reverse cycling where he eats more at night than the day so you have to supplement less. To get more at the pump try crying. It might sound silly, but the emotional release helps the body relax enough to produce a good letdown. A good place for practical information about breastfeeding and breastfed infant nutrition is kellymom.com.

Our baby boy is 22 weeks and we started him on solids around 18 weeks. We tried with rice cereal first but he hated it. Looking back, it might have been too early for him even though our doctor gave us the green light. We immediately switched to giving him 1/2 a jar (1x day) of stage 1 baby food and ditched the rice cereal. The baby food is creating a lot of constipation so now we added pear juice to his routine. Seems like he is getting more regular now and loves the baby food so I don't think we will go back to rice cereal. May try oatmeal next. Good luck!

OK. 20 weeks is about 5 months, and that is pretty close. I was very strict about the 6 month rule, because I'm a nurse with lots of allergies in my family so it was NOTHING but the breast until then. (And anyway, when I tried a supplement the kids all screamed their refusals and bit me the next nursing.) So you did great waiting!
I am so proud of you for still nursing. It is the absolute best thing for your baby, even now. Loads of nursing and medical research support your efforts for gaining brain development, bonding, allergy avoidance, diabetes and heart disease prevention, increased IQ.....
Pumping is hard, but remember that even the fanciest pump never achieves what your baby does on his own as far as extracting volume. (We used to prove this by weighing the little ones in the intensive care nursery after nursing versus bottle feeding a measured feeding). But you'll get enough. Make sure you are keeping VERY well hydrated and nourished, getting your rest, trying to pump in an un-tense environment (hard if you're on your break and pumping in a bathroom...)but try to look and pictures of your baby, play a recording of his giggles and cries or even swallowing while nursing. Some have luck with drinking a tea with fenugeek in it (an herb that helps milk production).

A little about me: I am a master's prepared RN with nearly 20 years of obstetric experience and certification. More importantly, I have three fabulous kids whom I nursed exclusively for 6 months each, then continued nursing each until they were 15, 17, and 19 months old. Enjoy your very special time together!!

Congrats on keeping up the nursing while back teaching. I taught h.s. and know how tough the job is even without a young one. Keep it up as long as possible, even if it's only morning and night. I used to do well pumping on one side while my son nursed on the other. If you pump when he's not around, look at photos of him, think about him. You could also take Fenugreek or the More Milk supplement by Motherlove. The teas don't really help except to keep you hydrated (which is important).

I'd recommend cutting out the rice cereal and going with homemade broth, egg yolk (if no egg allergies in the family), coconut milk, avocado, vegetables with organic butter if you don't suspect dairy issues. Stick to foods in their natural form. Rice cereal is usually stripped of all the good things about the grain and then they are added back in in forms nobody's body can really use, especially a little baby. For more on this, see Sally Fallon's cookbook Nourishing Traditions and this web site http://www.westonaprice.org/children/feeding.html

Here is an excerpt from that article:
"An unfortunate practice in industrial societies is the feeding of cereal grains to infants. Babies produce only small amounts of amylase, needed for the digestion of grains, and are not fully equipped to handle cereals, especially wheat, before the age of one year. (Some experts prohibit all grains before the age of two.) Baby's small intestine mostly produces one enzyme for carbohydrates—lactase, for the digestion of lactose. (Raw milk also contains lactase.) Many doctors have warned that feeding cereal grains too early can lead to grain allergies later on. Baby's earliest solid foods should be animal foods as his digestive system, although immature, is better equipped to supply enzymes for digestion of fats and proteins rather than carbohydrates.

Carbohydrate in the form of fresh, mashed banana can be added after the age of six months as bananas are rich in amylase enzymes and, thus, are easily digested by most infants. Some preindustrial societies give a gruel of cereal grains, soaked 24 hours, to babies one year or older. Soaking in an acidic medium neutralizes phytates and begins the breakdown of carbohydrates, thus allowing children to obtain optimum nourishment from grains. It also provides lactic acid to the intestinal tract to facilitate mineral uptake."

Good luck,

I started my daughter on cereal at about 8 months. I didn't give her much at first because, as you may have noticed, it can be constipating. And cereal doesn't really do much as far as nutrition or calories or even a satisfied tummy, especially if the baby is getting breast milk. We used cereal just as a practice food to get the hang of new textures and a new delivery system--ie. a spoon instead of the bottle or breast. As soon as she seemed to be getting more comfortable with the spoon and the mechanics of swallowing more "solid" food, we moved on to stage 1 jar foods and things I mashed myself, like bananas and sweet potatoes. Bananas, strained prunes, etc, by the way, can help counteract the constipation, but use in moderation! In case no one has warned you yet, in the beginning, wait a few days between introducing new food. If your son has a reaction to something, it will make it more apparent what has caused it.

As far as pumping, just stick with it. It takes a little while for your body to figure out it needs to make more to keep up with the baby and the pump. You may have noticed already that when your baby suddenly has an increase in apatite, he may not be satisfied the first day or so as your body has to process the signal that it needs to make more milk and then make the shift to a higher output. Other than that, I can only suggest drinking lots of water, pumping at a time when you are (at least somewhat) relaxed, and either being near your baby or have something of his close to you.

Good luck!

I started feeding my son rice cereal at 4 months. I was going to wait until 6 months but he seemed so interested in whatever it was that i was eating. I waited a few days and then introduced banannas. I try to wait at least a few days in between new foods, I think they recommend a week and to try in the morning. My son will eat anything. He does occasionally get a little backed up then I feed him prunes and cut back on bananas, rice and apples.

Is your pump a double electric? Are you able to relax when you pump? When my supply gets low I take "more milk plus" by mother love. you can find it on the internet for about $20 on their website. I recommend taking the pills because the liquid is nasty!

Good Luck!

hi K.
i started on oatmeal cereal at six months. for a few reasons. i had heard rice cereal makes them constipated, and starting solids earlier could possibly cause food allergies. after they turned six months i started with oatmeal and offered rice cereal from time to time but rice cereal made them very constipated so i rarely used it.

Hi K.,

I stuck with rice cereal for about a month. Then I switched to oatmeal cereal for another week or two. Then I slowly integrated phase one foods. We started this process at 5 months, as our daughter had diarrhea for two weeks when she was 4 months and we didn't want to add to the stress on her body. Also, any time we added a new food, we always fed it in the morning and watched for a reaction for at least 3 days before adding another food.

I have the same issue with pumping - I just can't quite keep up with what she needs. You should aim for one once per hour total. So, if you pump every two hours, you'd want to get one once per breast or two ounces total. I wouldn't go more than three or four hours without pumping when at work. I've also found fenugreek suppliments (at GNC) and Mother's Milk Tea to give my milk supply a boost. But, these things constipated my daughter, so I only use them on occasion, rather than every day.

I have the same pump. Start off with the highest speed and the lowest suction. After your milk lets down, switch it to a slower speed and a higher suction. This simulates how your baby feeds and helps to get more milk. You can also swap back to the first phase (high speed low suction) when the flow slows down to get it to pick up.

Regardless, breast milk is best for babies. Even if he only gets one bottle of breast milk a day it is still great for him. I know it is a pain lugging the pump and a cooler everywhere, but he will greatly benefit from it. And, if you have to stop breastfeeding before you initially planned, feel secure in knowing that you breastfed for as a long as you and he were able. Bottom line - you've got to do what works for you and your baby.

Good luck,
proud mom of 8 month old Emily

Both my kids hated cereal. We started pears at 4 1/2 months and increased fruits and veggies from there.

Rice cereal does not, as your grandma says, fill them up and make them sleep longer. It will, however, constipate them. Lots of babies will "cluster-feed" in the evenings, to pack in as much milk as possible before their sleep (and maybe he just misses you, awww...)

Both of my children's first food was cereal, and second was prunes. I found that oatmeal was easier for them to pass than rice, and your ped should not have a problem w/ that substitution. You can mix a little cereal w/ a lot of milk at first, to make it runny, and really all you should be doing right now is introducing it, not getting him to switch over. Their main source of food right now should be your milk.

I had a terrible time pumping, too, but a Pump in Style should be pulling it out of you, you should take it to a lactation consultant so they can make sure you're doing it correctly, there are also some foods (oatmeal) and herbs you may want to try to increase your supply (technical term- galactagogues). Good luck, and if you keep breastfeeding, if only in the mornings/evenings, that's better than nothing.

At 20 weeks the only thing you child needs is your breast milk. Offering solids too early can cause digestive problems and leave them more prone to food allergies! Just keep nursing on demand and your baby will get what he needs.

Pumping? Why are you pumping? Are you going back to work?

Remember that no matter how good your pump is, it will NEVER be as effective as the baby. The amount you get out with a pump does not reflect the amount you actually produce!! DO NOT GO BY THAT! I am still nursing my 19 month old, I make a ton of milk and I can't get a drop out with a pump. It is a completely different kind of sucking and your body has to adjust to that. Some never have luck with a pump. I would say that the amount you are pumping right now (for your babies age) is about right. I wouldn't worry. Right using a warm compress before you pump, sit is a relaxing spot, think of your baby, use breast compressions etc. First thing in the morning will give you the most milk. I used to pump about 30 minutes before my daughters feeding. That way there was already milk there so it was easier but when my daughter nursed I KNEW she would get milk, the baby always does :-)

Feel free to message me if you have any other questions. I would be glad to help!

We just started our daughter on rice cereal at 5 and 1/2 months. The pediatrician said to try that for a couple of weeks, then move to baby oatmeal cereal for a couple of weeks, then he is going to instruct us on how to start veggies and fruits.

I also use the PIS - I am an EPer (Exclusive Pumper). The thing that has worked the best for me to keep up my supply is WATER. I use a bottle of water and just keep refilling it all day long - the bottle reminds me to keep drinking and helps me keep track. It makes a huge difference. For more advice on how to increase your supply, check out: http://messageboards.ivillage.com/iv-ppexcluspump/

Good luck!

HI! I started it around 5 1/2 months with my daughter. Constipation has never been an issue for her but I did switch to using the single grain oatmeal cereal instead of the rice to avoid that problem. I had the same problem with the breast pumping. It was so frustrating b/c I knew I had milk b/c my daughter would never nurse and be unsatisfied, but could not express with the pump. I had the advanced pump in style which obviously made no difference. I wish I had an answer for how to increase output. I have heard there are meds that can help but my ob wouldn't prescribe them to me and you can drink mother milk tea. I would contact la leche and see what they say. Talk to your ob... I know many women who took medication to help increase their supply. Obviously the more you nurse/pump the more milk you will produce. I was told by one lactation consultant that some women do not produce enough of the hormone that allows the let down with the pump. I blamed that for my reason. GOOD Luck! and don't give up the nursing! even if you have to supplement he is still getting all of those precious nutrients from you when you do nurse him at home/weekends. Take care!


I have a 19 weeks old little girl and a 4 year old boy. I just started my 19 week old on rice cereal this week. It really does not seem to be helping me either but I am going to keep it up. I think it is probably just a transitional thing for the baby to get used to. I understand what you are talking about becuase I am brestfeeding as well. You asked about increasing your milk... the main way to increase your milk is to pump more often. I work in an office so I pump 3 times each day while I am at my office. My daughter eats 3 4oz bottles during that time so I just barely keep up with that. I usually get a total of 3 to 4 ounces each time I pump. You should definitely try taking a couple breaks and pump during the day if not at least pump while on lunch break.
I had my daughter at GBMC and they have a Breastfeeding hot line phone number that you can call and they are VERY helpful. I don't have the number with me but try calling the main number and asking for the breastfeeding hot line number. I called them a few weeks ago and they told me that eating anything with Mint or Sage in it will decrease your milk supply. There is also a vitamin supplement called Fenugreek you can buy at vitamin shops that is supposed to help increase your milk supply.
Good luck. It's hard to breast feed and work full time but you are giving your baby the greatest gift.

I had the same problem with my daughter. It felt like I was constantly breastfeeding. I started to give her cereal real early probably around 3 1/2 months. It just made her gassy and uncomfortable. I stopped feeding her the cereal and tried again the following month. So at about 4 1/2 months she was eating 1tbsp of cereal twice a day. After about two weeks I introduced 1st foods. You are supposed to introduce one food at a time and wait three days before introducing a new one. After about a month I started feeding her three times a day. She did have an allergic reaction to one food but luckily all she got was a rash. I reintroduced that food a few months later and everything was fine. She was on stage 2 by 6 months. She didn't like any of the stage 3 foods. My daughter is now 8 months old and on table food. She won't eat baby food or rice cereal anymore. She stopped eating cereal around 7 months. I think it just depends on each child.

I felt very overwhelmed at first but everything really just falls into place. I think you know what your child needs the best. He will let you know if something is bothering him and then you can just change what you are doing. It is so hard at first. I was always so worried. Finally I just started doing what I felt and things started working out. Hope this helps.

We skipped cereal. Taste it. Would you really want to eat it? There are no benefits to feeding it to a breastfed baby. We went straight to fresh avocado. He loved it.

Are you pumping in place of feedings or in addition? If it's in addition, keep in mind that you're making just the right amount for your child and it will take a bit to stimulate your breasts to make more.

Try eating lots of oatmeal (cookie form works, too), taking fenugreek, Mother's Milk tea. There are many other galactogues. Pumping from one side and nursing from the other. Check the membranes on your pump. Keep a picture of him nearby and something that smells like him to help trigger your body to release more. 1.5 ounces per breast is a really good starting point.

Okay I must be from Mars. My mother started both of my oldest children on rice cereal when they were about 4 weeks. They never had any problems with constipation or gassy stomachs. I nursed both of them and they were wanting to eat every hour..esp my son. By the time they were 6-7 months( about the time I stopped nursing and went with all formula) they were eating table foods like mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. Both of them are doing great now...13 & 8 yrs old. My 19 mo old is following suite.

my daughter is now 12 months. she is our first, so i was as lost as you!
we started her on cereal at 4 months. we did so b/c she wanted to eat ALL THE TIME. i breastfed and gave her formula, but it wasn't enough. my 1st doctor said to give her cereal only once a day. we then moved and my new dr. said all children are different and if she seems too hungry to give her the cereal. we started giving her cereal 2xs a day and she still took the breast and bottle, she just didn't want it all the time. according to my second dr. all children are different and moms who are with their children know sometimes more than the dr. who doesn't see them evryday.
as soon as she was good with eatiing...getting most in her mouth and understanding the concept we started on stage one foods along with the cereal...around 5 months.
with my daughter, she was constipated only once. we gave her prunes (stage 1) she wasn't constipated any more! and she liked them!
your the mom...trust your instincts! they're probably right :)
hope this helps...

Hey, the reason your doctor wants you to wait to feed cereal is b/c babies' digestive systems aren't ready to process foods yet. If you're hoping to calm a fussy baby you may just make him more fussy from discomfort from not being able to digest the food properly. All he needs now is your milk. He wants to feed a lot now b/c he's hungry and he needs it! Feed him milk when he's hungry, he's wanting to eat it b/c his body is telling him he needs the nutrients in it and he won't get it from the cereal. It also may be b/c he isn't getting enough per feeding (since you said your supply is down) and he is naturally trying to increase your supply to meet his demands. Allowing him to feed often will help your supply go up. You should also be puming during the day (you didn't mention if you were or not) and you shouldn't go more than a couple of hours b/w pumps, emptying them each time. I pumped exclusively and didn't have to supplement - any time my supply would start to wane I'd just have to spend a couple of days pumping a lot. (Also, just a tip, the whole drinking more water thing to increase your milk is another one of those old wives tales. So, don't rely on things like that - you really just have to increase the time you devote to pumping.)
When we did start my daughter on baby foods we would mix a little bit of rice cereal w/ baby fruits and veggies. She liked that and it helped her to become accustom to the flavors w/o overwhelming her.
Good luck, S.

My daughter's doctor told me to start her on rice cereal at four weeks from a spoon. She did well and before to long I moved on to stage one foods. When she was about two months i had moved and the new doctor said that it was bad to do that. I continued feeding her food because she was doing fine with it i just watch her with it. Now she is almost nine months and will not have any part of baby food she wants real food she whatever we eat and crackers and animal cookies whole by herself without any teeth.

hi. my first son is 6.5 months. we started him on rice cereal at around 5 months and he was super-constipated. i switched over to the oatmeal which he likes a lot better and is easier to work with. im using the earth's best organic oatmeal and food as well as making some food myself. we did cereal exclusively for about 10 days and then moved into fruit and then into veggies. my pediatrician says its ok to start meat now. he's 19.5 pounds. im still breastfeeding several times a day. on the pumping, try to notice when you are nursing him what makes you let down. sometimes i can lightly scratch my shoulders and it makes me get goosebumps and sometimes it helps let down while pumping. (ok, that sounded weird).

from my experience, starting him on food did nothing to help him sleep. he still gets up twice a night! we have only had 4 nights since he was born that he slept through the night.

good luck!

When did you start with rice cereal?-1st son ate it once at 4 months, I smelled it one time and said nah nevermind it smelled like cardboard and didn't give it at all to my 2nd son. Pediatrician said it was only for practice anyway.
Started other stage one foods?-Both started around 4 1/2 months, introducing a new flavor every 3-5 days to see if they were allergic.
How did you keep them from getting constipated?-1st son didn't get constipated(till now) and my 2nd son is 5 months and isn't constipated either. His poops are definitely alot different than the bf poops he used to have(runny).
Any ideas on how to increase that output?-I have the Isis duo electric pump and if I just sit their with the horn on my breast and let it suck milk out of me, I don't get much either. I have to squeeze and massage my breast while I have the pump going and I seem to get an alright amount out that way, probably almost 3oz. each breast(but only if it's really engorged like in the morning). I stay at home so I don't really need to pump except to alleviate the discomfort so I'm probably not much help there. I do need to build my stash up though(we had thrush and I had to throw it all out)anyhoo hope that gave you a little insight as to what someone else does. If you have other questions you can contact me.

I started both my kids on cereal at 4 mths because they (particularly my son) were starving! I think I gave it to him for dinner and then a bottle at bedtime (I also was nursing and it wasn't enough at bedtime so his first bottles of formula were at night and I still nursed all day). The thing is rice cereal does constipate so there are many suggestions to combat that (small dose of corn syrup, prune juice or apple juice). You really need to talk to your doctor though. I know they would have the best advice of when to give cereal and how to stop the constipation.

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