39 answers

When to Start Rice Cereal for Breastfed Baby?

My DS is almost 4 months and I am wondering when to start him on rice cereal. The ped said anytime now, but I wondered when other BFing moms started!

What can I do next?

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I started Aiden at 6 months. Some doctors say 4 and some say 6 months so there are less risks for allergies. Aiden is allergy free so far!

I started with rice cereal mixed with a little breast milk (I pumped 1 bottle a week to mix with his cereal) as well as sweet potatoes and pears, but he was really showing all the readiness cues. Don't force him until he is ready and be patient. Try a little tonight after you BF him. If he's receptive to it, continue. If not, wait a few days and try again. The hardest thing to start with was getting it behind the tip of his tongue so it didn't come right back out. Hope this helps.

I am still baffled as to why I keep hearing people say that their dr recommended starting to feed rice cereal at 4 mo. old-

Their digestive systems are NOT ready at this age for solid foods. You should really wait until they are 6 months old or 7 mo even. A good sign is if they can sit well by themselves and have gotten past the reflex that makes their tongue push food out of their mouths with each bite.
Good luck! (and a good rice cereal is by Earth's Best and not only is it all organic, but it is also made with no genetically modified foods (GMO's).

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We started our boy when he was 6 months old, but we skipped the rice cereal until later. It's actually kind of difficult on their systems.
I really wish pediatricians would stop saying 4 months is old enough because the young age has been associated with food allergies. Aside from that, it is already recommended for breastfed babies to not have anything else until at least 6 months old (by the AAP) AND the majority of babies are not even close to ready for solids at 4 months old.
If you're strictly breastfeeding then don't worry. Your baby is getting all he needs from you right now. A couple of months isn't too much or too hard to wait.

1 mom found this helpful

A., for ME, personally, the answer is NEVER EVER EVER EVER! I just do not find ANY reason or benefit to it. I exclusively breast feed my babies until after their first birthday; meaning, I don't prepare meals for them but do allow them to taste food relying only on breast milk to provide their main staple of life. After the first year I just start giving tiny amount of food from each meal we have and gradually increase the size I give them to match their desire and appetite.

Some people, however; are in a hurry to get the baby "off the breast" or have the misconception that there's some need to give solid food for nutrition when in actuality it takes almost a full year before the baby's body can identify,extract, and effectively utilize nutrients from food we give them. The purpose of giving any solid food is for "practice" and/or curiousity sake.

Also, remember growth spurts will cause you're baby to request more breast feeding for a few days each time, this is NOT a sign that he isn't getting enough nutrition from you it is simply him telling your body it's time to step up the production again. 2wks, 6wks, 12wks, around 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months are times to look closely at this particular issue if you're baby is demanding more nursing time. Other times are when they are feeling well; have a cold, teething, ear infections, etc...

If you're committed to using the cereal I'd wait until after your baby has lost the tongue thrust reflex God gave them to protect them from choking on things that don't belong in their mouths...sometime after 5 months or there about. But really, the only thing I see coming from it is stinkier diapers.

1 mom found this helpful

Every baby is different, so really it just depends on the cues your baby is giving you (sitting unassisted, teething, mooching for your food). I have 3 kids and none have been the same. My 1st had no interest in solids until she was 9 months old, also when she finally got her first tooth. My 2nd was about 6 months, and my last started mooching for food at 5 months. Nutritionally, breastmilk alone is sufficient even up to 1 year. The solid foods you offer are more for experimenting and having fun. As far as rice cereal goes, it has always been the first food I try, but none of my babies have ever loved it, even though I used breastmilk to make it. Having tried it myself, it really isn't that great tasting. I usually just ended up using it to add some extra nutrition to other baby foods. If you'd like a good resource, Dr.Sears' The Baby Book is a great read. Hope this helps. The bottom line is: don't stress-out about it. If he likes it, have fun, if not, try again next week and enjoy the fact that you don't have to scrub food stains out of his clothes or pack food for him when you go out!

1 mom found this helpful

I started mine at about four months, and weaned at 6 months when she indicated she was ready. I take the standpoint of trusting my dr. as long as I feel good about it. If you feel good, go ahead.

I am still baffled as to why I keep hearing people say that their dr recommended starting to feed rice cereal at 4 mo. old-

Their digestive systems are NOT ready at this age for solid foods. You should really wait until they are 6 months old or 7 mo even. A good sign is if they can sit well by themselves and have gotten past the reflex that makes their tongue push food out of their mouths with each bite.
Good luck! (and a good rice cereal is by Earth's Best and not only is it all organic, but it is also made with no genetically modified foods (GMO's).

I breastfed all three of mine for the first year and I started rice cereal at 4 months. I made it very weak and watery at first (to get them used to a spoon, mostly) but I only gave one "meal" a day for 2 months or so. Then, when they were allowed some solids at 6 mos, I mixed that in, too. My son is 10 mos now and gets rice cereal for breakfast and a veggie/fruit from a jar for dinner--also he nurses 4 times a day. I think it depends on what you and your baby are comfortable with.

A.,

You are going to get a lot of opinions on this one. I would encourage you to do a little research on your own of the medical literature, so you can come to an informed decision.

There is some persuasive evidence that recommends starting solids between 6 and 8 months of age. The World Health Organization, UNICEF, US Department of Health & Human Services, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Dietetic Association, Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, and Health Canada all recommend that baby be exclusively breastfed until 6 months of age. Unfortunately, many pediatricians are not giving their patients' parents information that agrees with the American Academy of Pediatrics. Here are a couple great articles from www.kellymom.com:

1. When is Baby Ready for Solids?
http://www.kellymom.com/nutrition/solids/solids-when.html
A good article that offers a great overview of what to think about before starting solids. Here are some basic signs of developmental readiness for solid foods:
*Baby can sit up well without support.
*Baby has lost the tongue-thrust reflex and does not automatically push solids out of his mouth with his tongue.
*Baby is ready and willing to chew.
*Baby is developing a “pincer” grasp, where he picks up food or other objects between thumb and forefinger. Using the fingers and scraping the food into the palm of the hand (palmar grasp) does not substitute for pincer grasp development.
*Baby is eager to participate in mealtime and may try to grab food and put it in his mouth.

This article also debunks some popular myths about starting solids, including:
"Baby's weight has reached a 'magic' number to start solids."
"Your baby is big so you need to start solids."
"Your baby is small so you need to start solids."
"There is not enough iron in breastmilk."
"Baby needs solids so he will sleep longer at night."
"If you don't start solids by "x" months, then baby will have problems with solid foods"

2. Why Should I Delay Starting Solids?
http://www.kellymom.com/nutrition/solids/delay-solids.html
The biggest reason to delay introducing solids past the 6-8 month mark is a family history of allergies. Allergies are running rampant, and the earlier and more often a child is exposed to a food, the more likely s/he is to develop an allergy to it.

3. Will giving formula or solids at night help baby to sleep better?
http://www.kellymom.com/nutrition/solids/solids-sleep.html
This is an interesting article. Though many moms have stories about baby's sleeping better with solid foods, there is no medical evidence that this is true. No studies have found that babies on solid foods sleep better. In fact, some babies sleep worse because they are not ready for solids, and they get upset tummies. I have to say that neither of my daughters had any change in sleep patterns when we started solids.

I hope these articles help you make a decision that is right for your son. By the way, in regards to baby nursing very often being a sign of solid readiness, that is not necessarily true. Many babies go through a growth spurt near six months of age. They nurse like crazy because breastmilk is a demand-and-supply system. The increased demand bumps up your milk production. It doesn't mean that you can no longer support your baby on breastmilk alone. It just means that your son is ready for you to make more milk for him, so he's letting your body know what he needs.

Best of luck,
S.

I just started a couple weeks ago and my boys are six months. Smooth sailing so far:)

We tried at 4 mo., but she just wasn't ready. She hadn't lost her tounge thrust reflex yet, and couldn't keep the food in her mouth :O At around five months she started to get the hang of it! If he hasn't lost his reflex yet, don't worry about it. Try every 2 weeks until you can see him getting the hang of it, and then get more consistant :)

The book "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" has a whole chapter on starting solids. You'd probably be able to get it at your local library.

This is from the Le Leche League, Int'l website (llli.org):

During their baby's first year, parents may be quizzed almost daily about their child's eating habits. “How long do you plan on breastfeeding?” “When do you plan on starting solids?” and “Is he eating food yet?” These are some of the most frequently asked questions parents hear from relatives, friends, and even strangers. A generation or so ago, the goal of many parents was to have the biggest baby who ate the most foods in the largest quantities at the earliest age possible. This mindset, although in decline, has been slow to die off. Although the American Academy of Pediatrics has published new guidelines that recommend starting solids at six months, mothers still tell of pediatricians discussing solid foods as early as the two-month well-baby checkup.

THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING suggests that babies begin solid foods AROUND THE MIDDLE OF THE FIRST YEAR. Of course, a baby's readiness for solids depends more on the particular baby than on the half-year birthday mark. Some physical skills are needed. A baby needs to be able to sit up well and to coordinate his mouth and tongue to chew and swallow. A baby can do this only when the newborn reflex to thrust the tongue out has begun to fade. Baby may be able to pick up small objects and put them in his mouth. A baby who is diving for the food on your plate or grabbing for the food on your fork may be ready to begin experimenting with solid foods or he may just be trying out his hand-eye coordination. A sudden increase in the number of times your baby wants to breastfeed can be a sign of readiness, but it may also be a sign of an illness coming on, teething, a developmental spurt, or a change in routine. Follow your baby's cues. If his increased frequency of nursing has not subsided after four or five days, it may be time to offer him some simple first foods.

Once you have determined that your baby is ready for solid foods, you need to decide what foods to offer him. It is wise to introduce only one food at a time, allowing at least a week before the introduction of another new food, so you can detect the cause of any allergic reactions. THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING makes the following suggestions for introducing solids: begin with a raw mashed banana, boiled or baked sweet potato, or raw mashed avocado; follow with meat, fish, whole grain breads and cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables. If you wait at least a week between the introduction of each new food it may take several months before your baby is ready to sit down to “three square meals a day.” Chapter 13, “Ready for Solids,” in THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING is full of tips and suggestions that will make the addition of solid foods to your baby's diet go more smoothly. Another source of information is the cookbook Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair. This cookbook features many meatless recipes and includes variations for making recipes suitable for babies and children.

BTW: The World Health Organization recommends that every baby should be breastfed at least two years.

I didn't do any rice cereal or baby food. I completely breastfed my son until a year and then about that time he started getting a little off our plates. He is extremely healthy and as big as a two year old!!

Well let me say I am now a Grammy of 15 grandkids and Great Grammy to 6 with another on the way ! When I read responses on this message boards today it makes me wonder how my kids, oh had five ,by the way , ever grew up ! LOL !
We started them on water right away after we got home from the hospital , then orange juice at two weeks and Rice cereal at about four weeks ! My kids all survied , had NO allergies , and never a broken bone or anything else .... they were all raised on a working dairy farm and had raw cows milk which does not resemble the milk of today in any way ! It was wonderful ! I was so blessed to have been raised on a farm where we grew our own food and to also raise my kids there. When they were little we would give them bites of ice cream and mashed potatoes ....applesauce ....and oddly enough they all grew up into fine healthy human beings ! Times have sure changed !

I tried at 4.5 months and my daughter threw up for a week after, so I never gave it to her again. I did give her oatmeal cereal around 7 months though and she never had a problem with it.

Get the book called Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense by Ellyn Sater. It has been the best resource for me with 2 boys ages 4 and 11 months. I refer to it often and it has answered all my feeding questions. The author has some guidelines for starting cereal based on what your baby is able to do rather than your son's age.
You will love it.

I didn't start my children on solids until six months. It is interesting because with my first child my pediatrician also told me I could start her at four months. However, with my second (who is now 22 months) the same pediatrician advised me to wait until six months because new research coming out suggests that babies started earlier have a higher incidence of allergies. Glad I waited with the first one! Honestly, 4 months is still pretty little and babies digestive tracts are still fairly immature. If your little one seems happy with breatfeeding and is gaining weight well I don't see any reason to start this early. I always thought that breastfeeding was easier than solids anyway!

I breast feed and just started my 5 month old on cereal and will begin veggies this week. When your baby seems interested in what you are eating and opens their mouth when you come at them with a spoon, they are ready! I started my son at 4 months and I think that was a bit early and he wasn't really ready.

Hi A.,

Wait on the cereal, or any other foods for a good while. The longer you wait on feeding your baby food, until they are ready, the less likely you child will develop food allergies, eczema and digestive problems. I don't know why your ped said to start him. This is very contradictory to the World Health Organizations recommendation that you NOT feed your baby anything until they are a MINIMUM of 6 months old--SInce your baby is breastfed, he is getting every bit of nutrition he needs. In fact, when you do start to give him food, start with something like avocados or yams--rice cereal has a high glycemic index and research is now linking it to one of the big causes of childhood diabetes.

Follow your baby's wants and teeth development--they don't have the digestive enzymes earlier than 6 months to digest whole foods. The presentation of teeth indicate when they are ready to eat anything in addition to breastmilk.

Best of Luck and Congrats New Mommy!
J.

Some older doctors say 4 months, but new information say breastfeed until 6 months. I started not on cereal, but sweet potato, bananas, apples and avocado, each mushed up really well with water using a happy baby food grinder. My daughter never ate cereal plain (i used happy times organic oatmeal and organic brown rice when i did buy it). I sometimes would mix cereal with veggies likes spinach to make it smoother, but we went straight into whole foods like veggies and fruits first. It also took about a month, from 6-7 months before she would do more than take one or two bites. Good luck!

With my first son, the pediatrician recommended starting solids at 4 months of age. With my second son, the same pediatrician recommended starting solids at 6 months of age. Based on my experience --- you start based on the baby's cues. If your baby is interested in what you are eating at the table --- give it a shot. If he is able to take the spoon into his mouth without pushing the food back out with his tongue --- then he's ready. If not, try later. I don't think it makes a difference whether you are breastfeeding or supplementing with formula. Don't put the cereal in a bottle. Make sure he is spoon fed. Have fun! It will be messy. It will take some practice.

I started runny rice cereal at 6 months old with all 3 of my BF children. I've known a lot of people that have started closer to 4 months and done just fine - but for me, it just seemed to be more of a pain to start earlier....I mean, who needs one more thing in their day? By 6 months, it seems to go more smoothly & there is a lower incidence of allergies.

I started both of my son's on rice cereal when they turned 4 months. Both of my kids were big and the bottle just wasn't giving them enough. They did great on the rice. I then started then shortly after that on veg's and then fruit.

Mine were 3 months.. Depends on the child but if your child is 4 months old then he is definately ready.

C.
www.AHomeCareer.com

Our old ped. who raised 8 kids of his own said a baby who is sleeping through the night and suddenly stops between 4 and months is ready for food. Worked for both our kids. I think one was 4 months and the other 5 1/2.

I started with rice cereal mixed with a little breast milk (I pumped 1 bottle a week to mix with his cereal) as well as sweet potatoes and pears, but he was really showing all the readiness cues. Don't force him until he is ready and be patient. Try a little tonight after you BF him. If he's receptive to it, continue. If not, wait a few days and try again. The hardest thing to start with was getting it behind the tip of his tongue so it didn't come right back out. Hope this helps.

I started Aiden at 6 months. Some doctors say 4 and some say 6 months so there are less risks for allergies. Aiden is allergy free so far!

I'm not sure who all has responded and you will probably get some similar advice, and some conflicting advice. But what I have found that works for my kids is to let them tell me when they are ready. I was trying to get my little girl to hold off for convenience purposes until 6 months, but she was interested and wanted to try our food and she stopped sleeping through the night, so I started her around 5 months. My little boy though is almost 7 months and is sleeping through the night, a healthy weight and doesn't care at all about solid foods, I have even tried, and so we are waiting for him until he is ready, and until he seems to need it.

Hi, A..
The American Academy of Pediatrics says breastfed babies are to be exclusivley breastfed for six months, no solids, water, or juice. Some doctors give the green light at four months, but that is the out-of-date recommendation. Other signs to look for are when your baby can sit unsupported (like on the floor by himself), and can grasp small objects with his thumb and finger (like cheerios, though cheerios aren't a first food, just a sign of readiness). I suggest waiting a couple months.
Amy

Ih i started my kid's at thid time and it helped a lot exspecialy at night it helps them sleep longer. It helps keep them stretch out the time when they eat

Hi!
Our dr. said any time between 4-6 months. With our son, I knew he was ready for cereal because he wanted to eat ALL the time! If your son wants to nurse more often than usual, it's probably a sign that he could use more substance. I was relieved when we started cereal because he was eating about every 2 hours, which was driving me crazy! Hope this helps! Good luck!

I started both of mine at 4 months. The first nursed until she was 1, and the second is 8 months now, and still nursing strong.

I breastfed all three of my children. I did not start any of them on cereal or any other solid food until they could sit up well/hold their head up well. They are all happy and healthy. None of them missed (actually, they all exceeded) and developmental milestones nor were they underweight/undernourished.

L.

It's only been in the past five years that the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendtion changed. Now, they say that mother's milk is the perfect food for babies until six months of age. (As other posts said, this is to reduce the risk of allergies; human milk actually helps seal up babies' porous intestines against irritating proteins that could seep into the bloodstream and cause allergies and upsets. It's amazing, I think!)
Another sign of readiness for solids you can watch for is the disappearance of the tongue-thrust reflex. Too-young babies push their tongues out against a spoon or solid food; a baby over six months old who is ready and interested in solids will open his mouth and keep his tongue in without thrusting it out.
Food allergies run in my family, so I have been cautious with my children starting solids. I was told to try solids at four months, but my son was clearly not interested and it was a bigger hassle than the novelty was worth to me. (So much easier to simply lift my shirt!;) I held off until six months, but it wasn't until he was seven months that he was actually interested in tasting things. I highly recommend Dr. William Sears' "The Family Nutrition Book" and "The Baby Book" for ideas on low-allergen foods to offer. The longer you wait and the more gradually you start, the easier it is because then Baby can eat bits and pieces of what the rest of the family is eating instead of a specially-prepared meal. Good luck!

We started my oldest son on rice ceral at 4 months after strictly bfing and he had developed quite a few food allergies. I have since read that the digestive system is not ready for solids this young. So we waited until 6 months with my younger son. Coincidentally, he has NO food allergies. I think I would recommend you wait a bit. Unless your baby is grabbing at your food and seems ready for more, there truly is no need, and could potentially harm!

i started at three and a half months because my baby started grabbing for our food and watching us eat with a look of interest. Sometimes he complained when we ate without him eating, but that wasn't what started my letting him taste potatoes and things. After a week or so of cereal, i would start adding in other baby foods. start with number one baby foods.

I started when my daughter was 4 1/2 months old. The trick is to make it runny and you can add breastmilk to it or just water. The only time my daughter had a problem was when I tried adding formula instead of pumping. The other thing is that if you start now this is an introduction time. Start only with a tablespoon at the most and for only one meal. Then add more once you feel your child is handling that well. The biggest sign of readiness is that they cat sit with little to no support. The tongue thrusting should be almost over and if he does spit it out with a first bite he is probably getting used to the new texture. I hope that this helps it is a scary thing whenever you start something new and you want to know that you are doing everything right.

The standard guideline for both BF and FF babies is not until 6 months, this is to reduce the chances of allergies, I never started any of mine until about 6-8 months, and that was really following their cues, when they are demanding a feeding more then every 2 hours over about a week (cause sometimes they will just eat more) I will then try out some cereal. It will take a few tries before they get the hang of it, but you will have to keep offering it. I almost forgot, one thing you need to look for is your sons tongue "technique" when they start moving their tongues in and out of their mouths and flexing it, for lack of a better word, they are usually ready to try.

I breastfed my daughter and started her on cereal around 4 mos old. She was really getting hungry, and mom alone just wasn't cutting it any longer! We liked to give it to her in the evenings (usually around the time that my husband and I ate dinner, I think) to start and then I think after a few weeks of that we upped it to more often and started her on the veggies around 6 mos. Hope that helps.

I personally don't understand this being made into a big issue. Your baby is ready when he/she is ready. I think you can tell when your baby is hungrier for something else other than milk (breastfeed or formula). My son was hungry at 3 months and I held him off for 2 more weeks, so I tried the rice cereal. On the 2nd day he was a pro! So, go with your gut feeling. I don't think it hurts the baby one way or another, other than you who has to listen to him cry because he's not satisfied. I believe that doctors are all just practitioners (people that "practice" on you). All of them have different opinions, just like all people do. No one knows your baby as well as you do.

I know you have a million responses. I started my son on rice cereal about 10 days before he was 4 months because he was eating every hour and never seemed satisfied. It made a huge difference with mood and with sleeping, so I knew he must have been starving. I am still breastfeeding and now that he's 6 months he's doing barley cereal and fruits and veggies. Just slowly introduce it to him, if he's not interested, then wait a week or so and start it again. I have a friend that didn't start her daughter on solids until 6 months and just breastfed and she did just fine. The milk was enough for her. So I think it's up to you. Once you start though, it's something you have to do every day, that's another reason my friend wanted to wait. (: Good luck.

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