4 Mo Old Starting Cereal

Updated on May 19, 2008
B.M. asks from Littleton, CO
52 answers

I just started my 4 mo old son on some rice cereal mixed with breastmilk, but he seems completely uninterested and just spits it out. We started b/c the pediatrician recommended it for some extra calories (so far, he is strictly breastfed). My question is, should I just keep trying every day or should I wait a week or so and then introduce it again? Thanks!

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J.R.

answers from Colorado Springs on

I would definitely wait, My daughter did the same thing, I waited another month.They do say that the longer you can hold of on solids the better for the baby. A friend of mine also started her daughter at 5 months. I would wait, he has his entire life left to eat food.
Remember a mothers instinct is always the best.
Good Luck
J.

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S.H.

answers from Fort Collins on

I know exactly how you feel. I think you need to make it thicker. We thought we should make it real thin to ease in to it but once we thickened it up a bit they really started to chow down. Good luck.

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D.F.

answers from Pueblo on

He's not ready for cereal and his spitting it out is how he tells you. If he's a strictly breastfed baby then he is getting all the caloric intake he needs. Give him another month or two and try the cereal again (really, 4 months is a little young, anyway, despite doctors pushing it). He'll let you know by swallowing some (not all, at least not right away) that he's ready, AND he'll stand a lesser chance of food allergies.
Don't be dismayed, it'll all come soon enough!

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J.M.

answers from Denver on

B.,
Fire your pediatrician and get a new one! Feeding your baby rice cereal, or anything besides exclusive breastfeeding, for the first 6 months at the earliest, completely goes against the American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organizations' recommendations for nursing babies. Not only do babies not have the digestive enzymes for digesting other foods besides breastmilk that early, but rice cereal has a high glycemic index, which current research is linking as the cause (in addition to formula) to childhood diabetes and obesity. It's too much of a sugar overload for babies, in otherwords. It raises their blood sugar too high and then crashes too fast. Adding whole foods or cereals too early is also the huge contributing factor or main cause of childhood allergies and digestive problems like Celiac's disease. Just follow your baby's lead (with healthy food of course). When they have teeth is when you should start giving them whole grains, yams, avocados (full of omega 3's)--all of these better than rice cereal or white flours. Each child is different; follow your own baby, not others.

If your baby needs more calories, make sure YOU are eating enough. Add more protein to your diet and make sure you're not dieting too much to try to lose baby weight. Not eating enough protein and whole grains will remove the fatty milk from your breastmilk. Also, make sure you let Colby get to the hindmilk (each side at least 20 minutes) to get the fattier milk.

Check the WHO website to see the current growth/development charts--this is based completely on breastfed babies, whereas most US doctors are using the old charts (which were designed with formula-fed babies in mind, not breastfed.) Breastfed babies grow at a much slower and gradual rate. So don't worry if your child is "small"--he's probably just fine.

So congrats on your first wonderful baby! And best of luck and wisdom on all your parenting choices.
J.

3 moms found this helpful
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S.M.

answers from Denver on

B.,
My doctor also recommended starting my son on rice cereal at 4 months. After researching, I decided not to. Most recommendations now, are to wait until at least 6 months before starting anything. I chose to wait until a year to give my son anything but breastmilk.... and he is soooooooooo healthy and big. Everyone thinks he's 2 and he is only 15 months!! So my suggeston would be to hold off, it will actually be better for him, and help prevent allergies.
If you have any more questions you can email me at [email protected]____.com
Best of luck on your descision!
S.

1 mom found this helpful
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R.K.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Hi B.,

There is absolutely NO real reason you have to give your baby cereal. This is really something that's been transfered over from formula fed babies. You're baby is getting everything he needs from you.

I, myself, exclusively breastfeed my babies for the first year. I allow them to taste and try foods but I do not rely upon meals for their nutrition prior to the first birthday.

The whole point of food and cereal in that first year is for PRACTICE anyway, they cannot digest those foods to retain much of the nutrition.

Trust your own instincts though. If you feel he simply must have the cereal, keep plugging away. I, however, have not found any reason in doing so with any of my children, clients, or in any of my education.

Focus on his consistant growth and development...the goal is to triple birth weight by the first birthday.

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C.L.

answers from Fort Collins on

Unless your child is seriously underweight, (like below the 1st percentile) there is no reason he can't be on breastmilk alone. Many pediatricians like to see kids in the 50th percentile or above, which leads them to push more calories than they need. Breastfed babies are frequently a little smaller than formula fed babies, but just as healthy! If you child is happy and thriving on breastmilk, don't worry about cereal until 6 months or later.

FYI: 4 months is too young for most kids to be able to use their tongue to move food to the back of the mouth, so they end up spitting it up or gagging instead of swallowing. If they need more calories, try a supplemental nursing system.

1 mom found this helpful
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T.L.

answers from Denver on

Four months can be too early for some babies. Keep breastfeeding and don't stress over this. You can wait another month or two if you want.

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M.R.

answers from Denver on

My daughter refused the cereal no matter when I tried it or what I mixed with it. I tried soy formula, breastmilk and even apples (stage 1). She spit it all out. She would eat the apples alone and loves bananas so I just gave up on the cereal and switched to fruit & veggies for snacks while I breastfeed. Gerber makes one that a apple vanilla whole grain mix, but I think it's a stage 2. She loved that one later on.

Good luck :)

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K.B.

answers from Provo on

What is b/c? Why in the world would ANY pediatrician think that a 4 month old needed extra calories?? Unless they aren't nursing properly and showing no growth or not enough growth. When my son was born he would not nurse and wasn't gaining weight fast enough but on formula he did great! My second child would eat the oatmeal cereal at 4 months but it made her constipated, ie, her body was not ready for it yet, and she started baby foods late too. She hated the rice cereal. If your baby isn't gaining/growing enough then maybe supplement some formula.

Also, this advice is coming from people's own experiences so if something seems off with your pediatrician's advice seek a second opinion. Make sure you have a doctor for your children that you like and trust.
K.

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T.O.

answers from Fort Collins on

A great book for feeding babies is: Super Baby Food by: Ruth Yaron. Check it out at your library. Mine is falling apart I've used it so much. Only a few things in the book I don't agree with. What she has to say about meat and flouride are a couple. For the most part it is a very helpful book. Grains really are not the best thing to start a baby on. They are so hard to digest. An MD may say different but they don't know too much about nutrition.

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S.H.

answers from Denver on

Don't stop. Keep introducing the new food to him at least once or twice a day. It takes SEVERAL times to introduce a new food-it can take up to 12 times or more. Hang in there and eventually he'll eat the new foods.

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J.L.

answers from Provo on

Did the doctor suggest it because he wasn't gaining enough wait. In my short experience there are doctors who swear you have to start them on solids at 4 months and there are doctors that swear you have to start them at 6 months, and then there are doctors like my doctor who leaves it up to what works best for you and the baby. With my first I was going to hold her off until 6 months because I figured it was easier and less messy, but she really wanted to try everything, and so at 5 months I finally started her and she loved it. She's always been very independent and wanting to try new things. Now with my second one he is 6 in half months old and is showing absolutely no interest in starting, he just wants me. I actually did try and he did the same thing yours did, so I'm waiting. He's chunky and sleeping through the night so he's obviously getting enough just through breast milk, so I'm just not going to worry about it until either he show's more interest or he obviously needs it for weight gain. I hope this helps.

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B.R.

answers from Denver on

We had the same issue with our little girl. She only gained a little over a pound from 2 to 4 months on breast mild alone, so we started her on cereal. She didn't do very well, so we waited a week and tried again. She still didn't do great for us, but started totally eating well at day care. They mixed it with a little bit of apple sauce. Now she loves it! She gained almost 1 1/2 pounds from 4 to 5 months and sleeps much better. Just stick with it . . .

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T.T.

answers from Denver on

You could probably wait. Breast milk has all the calories he needs. Has your doctor said he's underweight? Hold off, and then try again next month. Babies have to learn how to use their tongue to swallow food. They are used to pushing it out to suck from the breast or bottle. So it will take a few tries before he figures out what he's supposed to do. But there's probably no rush in getting him to have cereal, unless your doctor is concerned about his weight.

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A.R.

answers from Denver on

If he's not interested I would just wait a little while and try again. Babies are funny. One day he won't be able to swallow and then voila! the next day he will be swallowing like a champ. You can breastfeed exclusively for up to 6 months, so I would just go with what feels right to you and what's working for your baby. Doctors don't know everything! I nursed both of my children exclusively for 5 - 5 1/2 months, and then they seemed ready to try a little food.

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M.M.

answers from Great Falls on

Dear B., here is something from my experience:

Nursing is most wonderful thing ever, keep doing it.
In addition, you might try giving him soft food,

like mashed potatoes, with little butter in them, and milk
or even sour cream, but mash them so that it is like a pudding. This way you can mash very soft any vegetables, or raw or a little boiled or baked fruit, so that he does not need to bite, but just kind of suck her food in. he should like it, as it does not hurt.

Also, if you cook oatmeal porridge, make it simmer long,
so it's very soft, and then take a sieve (the smaller the 'holes' the better, and a spoon.
For all the cases for food now, while her teeth are 'cutting through' and hurt,
use this 'tool', to put the food in the sieve one spoon at a time,
then press the food through with the spoon in the bowl,
and give her to taste, just a little.
If he likes the taste, she'll smile soon and ask for more.
Experiment with different tastes, and give a little first, to check how he reacts. To sweeten food, I used honey always, a LITTLE, just to give it an appealing taste. natural is always better, and honey is better than any sugar: well, brown sugar is better ifyou really want it.

Any kind of porridge works this way: rice, oatmeal, buck-wheat!
I raised three kids like this.

Still, as long as you have milk, keep breastfeeding him, just adding this other food to the 'diet'.

My kids grew up were very healthy, no problems at all.

All the very best to you and your dearest ones!!!

here ~MORE ADVICES FROM OTHER MOMS:

http://www.mamasource.com/request/18166282525805117441

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R.L.

answers from Boise on

I would say if your baby seems content with breastmilk and is growing well, hold off on solids until he seems interested. Breastfed babies tend to be thinner (but not always). If he is not fussy he is probably getting enough. The sooner you introduce solids the higher the chance he will have of developing allergies. I personally do not see anything wrong with solely breastfeeding until at least 6 months or more. Remember you are the Mom and if you trust yourself you'll know what's best for your baby. I tend to believe a lot of parents listen too much to the pedietrican and go agaist their own gut instincts.

Good luck,
R.
Mother of two

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H.G.

answers from Denver on

I totally agree with Julia- she gave wonderful advice and accurate information.

I would encourage you to listen to your intuition first, you know your baby immensely better than this or any other doctor.

God designed your milk to sustain your baby, for your baby to THRIVE on your milk alone for much longer than you may think. My daughter is 13 months old and 98% of her nutrition is from my breastmilk... she's thriving (weighs 26 pounds)! I offer her lots of food, but she's just not ready to get most of nurtitional needs met by solids, which is fine with me.

Did you know that the average age a child is breastfed across the world is 4.2 years?! Here is America, it is sad the percentage of babies that get any breastmilk at all. You are giving your son the best food in the world from him! You don't need to be in a hurry to give him anything else, he'll let you know when he is ready for other foods.

H.

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T.W.

answers from Salt Lake City on

if you're looking for recommendations, stay away from the rice cereal. . mashed fruits and veg are a much better first food and rice cereal actually makes it difficult for baby to absorb what he needs from breastmilk. also, it's now recommended to wait until a full 6 months before starting solids, maybe ask the ped why he thinks baby needs more calories, he's getting EVERYTHING he needs from breastfeeding. maybe a chance to educate your ped or find another one who is more supportive of breastfeeding. good luck!

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C.E.

answers from Colorado Springs on

There are different kinds of rice cereal for your baby. Have you tried the one that has little fruit pieces? I have four children and gave them this cereal. I also used my breast milk for their cereal and they seemed to like it. Good luck!

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H.W.

answers from Boise on

Keep in mind that he's learning how to eat. My daughter did the same thing, and it turns out she was just trying to figure out the new texture and how to swallow it. I'd keep going for a bit, and maybe try a few different kinds.

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S.L.

answers from Pueblo on

Dear B.,

I would hold off on the cereal for awhile. As long as your baby is gaining weight and growing like he is supposed too...don't force the issue. You could maybe give him some juice that is half water and half juice. My son did the same thing and did not have any solid foods until he was six months old. The cereal gave him too much gas and he did not want it. Relax.

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M.O.

answers from Denver on

Don't push the issue. He may be "pushing it out" becasue he hasn't lost his tounge thrust reflex yet (which is a sure sign when he is ready) The AAP recomends only breast milk for 6 whole months so he isn't behind schedule. We started our dd on cereal around that time , and she just hadn't lost her reflex yet, and it was a big waste of time! By 5mo. she had lost the reflex and ate like a champ! Wait a month and try again! If he still isn't ready, wait til he is 6mo.

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M.C.

answers from Denver on

Looks like you've gotten some great advice. My pediatrician said never to add cereal to the bottle. She also said that as long as baby is gaining weight, breastfeeding exclusively is best. We started our daughter on solids around 6 months because I was having trouble pumping after going back to work. And then we started the cereal very thin with mostly breast milk or formula. Just pay attention to the signals you baby gives you. If it seems like he’s not interested, he’s probably not ready for solids yet. Trust your instincts. You’re the mommy :)

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M.M.

answers from Denver on

This is simply an introduction to solids, so just keep trying a little bit each day.

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L.W.

answers from Colorado Springs on

My pediatrician also recommended starting cereal that early. Since my baby was a very healthy weight and not missing any developmental milestones, I ignored the advice. I did not start any of my three children on solids until they could sit up well in the highchair. Some drs get paranoid about only breastfed babies. My last child (she was ten pounds at birth) was breastfed only until she was about 8-9 months old. She was and still is very happy and healthy. Your baby will let you know when he needs more. For now, just skip the cereal business. BTW, after all the grief my peditrician gave me, he actually admitted I was right.

L.

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P.D.

answers from Denver on

I am surprised that your Ped. is encouraging solids yet. I was always told the longer you can delay, the less chance there is for allergies to develop. Most Peds. recommend 6 months at the earliest. Some moms will strictly nurse even up to a year! Of course, the baby needs to be thriving. I held off until 6 months with all of mine, and they all took to it right away. The response about adding honey from another mom concerns me! Babies younger than a year can get botulism from it! Good luck to you-

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J.H.

answers from Billings on

Wait. Try again in a week. If he doean't go for it then, try again in another week. And so on. Many people don't even introduce cereal until 6 months, because the many babies aren't ready at 4 months.

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J.A.

answers from Provo on

Our 3 month old started 2 days ago on rice cereal and he's only breastfed as well, so for what it's worth...we had the same problem and we found that holding the little spoon in his mouth (the kind with rubber on it, small for infants) he would sort of try sucking on it back and forth and then eventually after about 20 seconds he'd swallow it! I tried it just after feeding him so he wasn't impatiently starving when I tried to offer it.

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S.S.

answers from Denver on

You can add cereal to a bottles as well, you just may have to enlarge the nipples depending on how thick you make it.

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J.B.

answers from Denver on

I'd try it daily unless it is upsetting to your son... maybe try to make it a different consistancy and see if that helps. It took a while for my daughter to catch on to it too. She did better when I made it a little thicker than was recommended on the box. Another good food for them to start with, believe it or not, is avacado. My kids loved it and the fat content helps promote healthy brain development... I know this is not recommended, but if your son needs extra calories for health reasons you could put the cereal in a bottle and see if he'll take it that way. I've had some friends that have done that, you just have to make the hole in the bottle nipple a little larger... hope this helps! Good luck!

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S.A.

answers from Boise on

according to my pediatrician. If they are spitting it out, they have not lost that tongue thrust reflex and are not interested. They they are not ready to take cereal. I think it is a waste of food if they are not eating it. That doesn't mean you need to stop right away. Wait a week and then try it again.

However, according to the American Pediatric Association solids are not recommended until they are six months old.

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D.W.

answers from Boise on

I would just introduce cereal to your baby about once a week until he figures it out. It takes them a little bit to figure out how to eat, especially breastfed. My 5 month old baby is a pro now and sleeps better at night when I feed it to him right before laying him down. I add pears to my cereal because it tastes way better that way. When he's 6 months old I will start feeding him a different vege every week, and then I'll start on all the fruits. You still feed them breast milk after they are done eating.

It's pretty much up to you what you want to do. I'm sure your doctor was just letting you know that it's O.K. because a lot of Mom's know that there baby is hungry starting at 4 months. You know your baby better than anybody.

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N.W.

answers from Salt Lake City on

My pediatrician told me to start giving my baby solids at 4 months. I told him I wasn't interested in giving my baby solids so early. I told him I planned to nurse exclusively until about 9 months.

He said that was fine. Then he kinda back pedaled a bit and said that he'd wanted to let me know that it would be OK to give my baby solids at 4 months. He seemed to think I'd be feeling pressured by people around me to start solids already.

Once I told him my plans to nurse til 9 months, he was very supportive of my decision. He even said that was probably better for the baby that way.

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S.W.

answers from Denver on

Babies don't know how to eat when they first start and tend to push the cereal out with their tongues as they are learning. Just keep following your doctor's instructions...I'm sure he/she knows what your baby needs right now...eventually your baby will get the hang of eating!

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M.W.

answers from Boise on

This is a waste of time at such a young age. Give it a couple of months and try again at 6-7 months. Breastmilk is really all he needs at this time. (Most doctors don't understand this.) Enjoy your nursing time with your baby and don't worry about feeding him solids until later. Also, I don't give them rice cereal but rather things like applesauce, mashed banana or sweet potato. Much better tasting and baby always seemed more interested in trying something tasty!

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M.M.

answers from Denver on

I started cereal with both my kids at this age, per my pediatrician's recommendation, and continued to nurse. Like most things, it took them a while to get used to it but they did and eventually loved it.

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K.J.

answers from Salt Lake City on

i heard either way is good. it could also be that your baby hasn't learned how to "eat" foods. i usually keep going until my baby refuses or throws a big enough fit to let me know it's time for something else.

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T.M.

answers from Denver on

I would definately keep trying. He might just be spitting it out because he is not use to the rice cereal. Don't give up. My 6 month old son was doing that when I started him on rice ceral 2 months ago. I just kept feeding it to him and now he takes oatmeal and has had all the veggies, we are starting fruits next week.

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K.S.

answers from Denver on

My daughter did the same thing. I tried for a week and then took a week off. Then I tried again. She was very uninterested until the day before she turned 6 months old. It was like a light switch. She just decided one day that she loved cereal and now I can't seem to feed her fast enough. Your little one will let you know when they are ready. Good luck.

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A.P.

answers from Denver on

I think you answered your own question. If he is uninterested or unable to eat cereal, yet, you can't force him. Besides, our pediatrician encouraged us to try and wait til our baby was 5 or 6 months to start solids. Just read your baby's cues. Talk to a lactationist about this.

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A.M.

answers from Boise on

Hi B.
I have a son who just turned one and has had rice cereal since he was a month old. We added just a tiny bit of sugar to help with the taste. I dont know if everyone would say try this but it is a thought. I tried it and it worked for me and another thing I did was added a tiny bit of fruit to the cereal too. My son loved it. Good Luck!!!

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J.P.

answers from Denver on

See Julia's response--she's right on! Your baby knows his own body better then your pediatrician. If he's spitting out the food, then that's all you need to know. For the first year of life, if he got nothing but breastmilk he'd still be healthy. "Solids" is only practice until then. Trust your Mommy intuition and he'll be fine :-)

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A.R.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Is your baby not gaining weight? I believe that babies know when it is time to start solids. I didn't even try to start solids with Amelia until she was 6 months. She was not interested. I tried again a month later, still not interested. She didn't become interested in solids until she was almost 10 months, and she was strickly breastfed until then. I would wait, unless there is a weight issue (not gaining weight). Good luck.

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C.M.

answers from Colorado Springs on

Just breastfeed that little baby on demand and find a new pediatrician! 4 months is too early for solids.
Go to la leche for help in milk supply.

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J.G.

answers from Salt Lake City on

I would just keep trying a little bit every day because he will catch on eventually, it's their natural reflex to spit it out. If you try for a few days and the same thing just keeps happening then maybe wait a week or so and try again, whatever works for you. Good luck!!

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S.L.

answers from Fort Collins on

B.,

Here is an article from Kellymom.com about when to introduce solids for your baby...
http://www.kellymom.com/nutrition/solids/delay-solids.html

"Unfortunately, many health care providers are not up to date in what they're telling parents, and many, many books are not up to date. The following organizations recommend that all babies be exclusively breastfed (no cereal, juice or any other foods) for the first 6 months of life (not the first 4-6 months):
*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
*Health Canada

If your son is NOT gaining weight, than you would probably do best to nurse him more often. If you think he is not taking a sufficient amount of breast milk, is it due to low supply or to improper latch on? A good lactation consultant or a local La Leche League leader can help you with both of those issues. The more he nurses, the more milk you will make for him.

If your son is simply low on the charts, that is NOT necessarily a cause for concern. As long as he is growing, that is what is important! Think about it - the weight charts are there to compare babies' weights. In any category of babies, some will be the lightest and some will be the heaviest. Neither necessarily means they are healthy or unhealthy; it just means someone has to be the lightest or heaviest in the group. In addition, most of those weight charts were developed from BOTTLEFED babies, who have completely different gaining patterns than breastfed babies.

Rice cereal itself is actually a very poor food, even if you are concerned about caloric intake. It has far fewer calories than breastmilk, it doesn't provide immune benefits, and it basically contains no nutrients. The only reason to offer rice cereal is that it is a hypoallergenic way to get baby used to eating solid foods. At 4 months his gut is not properly developed, and simply is not ready for solids. You may do quite a bit more harm than good to him by starting him this early. By the way, the fact that he is spitting food out is called the Tongue Thrust Reflex. It is there to protect baby from trying to eat when his gut is not fully developed. It is a classic indicator that baby is not ready for solids, since this reflex fades naturally when his body matures.

Best of luck,
S.

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S.B.

answers from Boise on

My two kids had a period of adjusting to cereal as well. He's just not used to it yet. Start by just mixing up a tiny amount at a time, and make it really liquidy (high breastmilk to cereal ratio). Just keep offering it once or twice a day (but don't push him to eat it, just offer), and he will eventually accept and enjoy it! You've probably heard that babies often need to try a new food 10 to 15 times before they like it - it's true!

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A.J.

answers from Salt Lake City on

My babies hated it with breastmilk, so I used applejuice. The doctor told me they actually absorb more iron when it is made with apple juice, which is good because quite often breastfed babies will get a little anemic. Ask your doctor and see if he thinks its ok.

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P.L.

answers from Salt Lake City on

In my experience, 4 months is TOO YOUNG to start solids of any kind. I strictly breastfed my second until 6-7 months because I did what you are attempting to do with the rice cereal with my oldest son at 4 months and he had so many food allergies (there is a possible relationship here with starting too young on solids, with an immature digestive system) and my second son who began later is fine. You decide. There really is no need to feed now anything other than breastmilk.

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S.B.

answers from Denver on

I had to do this too as my daughter was throwing up all the time. So I pumped and mixed the smallest amout of cereal (barley as rice seemed to make her constipated) in the breast milk in a bottle. My daughter was a premie and had trouble with eating for a while. Yours ust may not be ready for spoon feedings. Try small amounts and biuld up the taste slowly.

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