Feeding an Infant Cereal Before 4 Months Old

Updated on November 04, 2010
G.B. asks from Warren, MI
27 answers

My girlfriend has started feeding our 7 week old son 5 baby spoons of cereal in the morning and 5 at night. She live's with her parents for the time being. She said her pediatrician told her its ok to do so. But iv been told by a number of people and have read that it could cause digestive problems! She swears it's ok and that it help's him sleep longer through the night. It worry's me that her being naive could harm our son. Does anybody have any useful information? I would appreciate it!!!

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answers from Detroit on

No it isn't ok, but its unlikely that she will stop doing it. Either her pedi doesn't have good information (and she is going to go by what he says), or she's imagined that its okay and is not living in reality, in which case it would be near impossible to convince her - even with sound evidence - that its bad.

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answers from Victoria on

My daughter had reflux and by week 6 i was adding cereal to her bottle, which is also a huge no no, but it worked for my child. She is now 5 and has no digestive problems. the cereal thickened the milk and kept it in her tummy instead of it coming back up and this allowed me to take her off of a prescription medicine, which I felt was the worst of the two in the long run. My son started cereal at about 3 months for same reason and he doesn't have digestive problems either. i'm not advocating what she is doing, cause spoon feeding at that young of age is more scary to me that the digestive aspects. there is no medical finding that cereal will help a chld sleep longer, but if it helps the childs reflux, then it will stop the reflux, which does wake a child often thru the night. i know of no pediatrician that would ever ok this, so i would have to see it in writing to believe that, but I probably would not pick this battle to fight. Now if she begins to feed other foods soon, then i would worry about the digestive aspect and allergic reactions cause they can be serious for young infants. Best of luck & hope this helps you....

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answers from Detroit on

I agree that at 7 weeks old he should not have cereal. At least 2 months old before giving him cereal. You are the mom you have the say.

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answers from Indianapolis on

The AAP says wait until 6 months old. Her pediatrician is going against his governing board by giving her bad advice. A 7 week old doesn't need to sleep better at night, they should be nursing on demand around the clock, not being tricked into thinking they are not hungry. I hope he doesn't end up with any issues. She's running a big risk of digestive problems, allergies, and starving her son:(

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on


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answers from Phoenix on

I don't know ANY pediatrician that recommends ANY kind of cereal before 6 months of age...it's too risky if the baby has an allergic reaction.

And of course, it helps HER sleep longer. But believe me 7 weeks is just way too young. Are her parents wanting to get more sleep too?

Sorry you don't have much of a vote in the matter.

Perhaps you can insist on going to all future Dr. appts so you can have the medical staff on your side. Also, pick up a copy of "What to Expect the First Year....or ..The Toddler Years.....They are everywhere, even thrift stores. And then show her yourself what you are finding.

Does she have a habit of lying about baby care issues to get what she wants?

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answers from Detroit on

I'll be 30 years old soon, and if you talk to my mom about it she'll tell you that she was feeding me cereal at 2 weeks old! Hahah!!!!

My pediatrician always said my son had a "healthy appetite" but never suggested cereal before 4 months old. I even remember at his 4 month well-baby check she said "go ahead and try cereal" but she also was STRONGLY against cereal in the bottle.

Even when I started giving my son cereal at 4 months old (by spoon), he got a tablespoon of cereal at night, not twice per day. The twice per day feedings didn't start until he was around 5 months old. By the time he "needed" 3 feedings, I added vegetables, and that was at 6 months old.

I'd like to edit my answer to address Heather - it's not selfish to use Formula, however it is spiteful to put down those who do. Shame on you.

And again, I reiterate that my son had a "healthy appetite".

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Missoula on

He's 7 weeks old, he's not supposed to sleep through the night. Also, it just doesn't work. Can you go to doctor's appts. with them, or even call the doctor's office to discuss your concerns and confirm that she didn't misunderstand? My understanding is that starting solids too early (before 4-6 months) can cause digestive problems.

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answers from Raleigh on

Pediatricians don't usually recommend it until 6 mos of age. However, I know the generation of parents before us started cereal routinely at 6 weeks. My mom had an old baby book from 30 years ago which stated this as the norm. Amazing how times change!
As for the baby sleeping longer at night- that is just a myth. They normally do this around this age anyway and it has nothing to do with what they are fed. It's a developmental stage.
I know that some pediatricians recommend to put cereal in bottles with babies that have severe reflux. The thicker consistency helps keeps things down. I guess if you notice any colicky behavior (such as crying, arching of the back, spitting up) then stop immediately. Definitely take your concerns to the two month checkup.
Hope this helps!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

No, NO, and NOOOOOO!!! WHY is SHE deciding what to feed YOUR child?? MAJOR RED FLAG!!! I would never let anyone watch my little baby that would do anything other than what I instruct them to do. Not even my best friend or my own mother!

No baby should get cereal before at least SIX MONTHS!! Not six or seven WEEKS!! WHAT is she THINKING?!?!!!

YES! It could not only cause problems now (this is a major CHOKING HAZZARD!), but a whole host of other problems later, including food allergies, higher obesity rates, asthma, pulmonary difficulties (from inhaling tiny bits of cereal into their lungs), digestive problems, (can result in damage to the intestines, weight loss, blood in the stool, and malnutrition) etc.

Resources/references: http://www.askdrsears.com/faq/fit3.asp, http://ow.ly/33xII, http://ow.ly/33xVn


Babies need to be able to hold their head up, sit with little assistance, grasp/hold items and bring them to their mouth, AND act like they are interested in eating before starting cereal!

The American Academy of Pediatrics, World Health Organization, US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Canada, UNICEF, and many other organizations all agree - wait until baby is at least six months to introduce cereal.

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answers from Grand Rapids on

Good Morning G.,
Don't worry I started putting cereal in my sons bottles morning and night at about the same age. He is 21 now and has NEVER had any problems. Mine was an eater. He was HUNGRY all the time. Mine started sleeping through the night at 6 days old. I started putting cereal in the bedtime bottle to help sustain him. I put it in the morning bottle because he woke starving because he slept so long.
If your son was already sleeping a long period of the night ( 5-7 hrs) the cereal just helps sustain him. Because it is thicker it holds in his tummy a little longer. And in the morning he is starving so a little cereal helps hold it in his tummy a little longer too. Thin liquids are digested fast and putting a little cereal to thicken it and hold it in his belly gives his body a little extra time to absorb nutrients and calories. It is actually good for him. As long as she is using plain rice ceral, I don't see a problem.
I am 41 yrs old and my generation didn't even have formula when we were babies. We were breastfed or we had Milnot with water. Our parents started putting cereal in bottles as young as 5 weeks. There are/were FAR LESS health problems and allergies in my generation than in the infant to 10 yr old gerneration now.
I hopes this eases some of your concerns.

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answers from Chicago on

Please accompany your child to the 2 month well-baby visit, which should be coming up soon. Ask the child's pediatrician about this practice and what his/her thoughts are (I HIGHLY doubt that the pediatrician gave the okay to do this *just* to help the baby sleep longer).

Personally I think your girlfriend is expecting too much from your baby right now. Most babies do not sleep through the night at this young age. When someone has a newborn, they have to accept the fact that they'll be getting up every 3-4 hours or so to feed the baby and take care of it. I agree with you - in most cases introducing cereal too early can be detrimental to the baby's digestive system.

Go to the 2 month well-baby visit and ask the pediatrician.

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answers from Bakersfield on

I'd talk to your babies doc. 7 weeks is awfully young, it should just be breast mildk or formula. The baby is way to young to sleep through the night so that would not be a good reason to introduce complex foods into an immature digestive tract. They need to eat every two or three hours for the first few months.

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answers from Detroit on

Ok i have 5 kids. I have feed two of them rice only cereal at 7 weeks and the reason was for acid reflux. My Pediatrician had me start my little one off at 12 weeks on cereal. It doesn't mess the digestion up. But what does is oatmeal. Rice is fine. The baby will put on weight with cereal too. The can only have at 4 months fruit and veggies and always do veggies first fruit is sweet and they will take to liking that because veggies are blah so do veggies first at 4 months. Than meat and mac and cheese not untill 6months. Also your gut or the mothers is actually better always follow the gut. If it feels right than it is.

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answers from Atlanta on

Well, it's probably not going to hurt him, but modern advice from pediatricians and child-rearing experts tells you to stick with breastmilk or formula at this age and nothing else. I'm 40, and when I was born my mother saved EVERYTHING. The pamphlets and handouts my pediatrician and her doctor gave her when I was born in 1970 advised to go ahead and start giving cereal like this around 5 weeks as well as orange juice and tomato juice! So, you see, ideas certainly change, and sometimes even come back around. It's doubtful that this will harm him, but if he starts having digestive issues -I would certainly point to this. Millions of people my age, older and slightly younger are fine and never had any issues from it. You may want to find a good "infant's first year" book that points out only feeding breastmilk or formula and give it to her. I would also go to the next pediatrician's appointment with them and ask the doctor in front of her to get his/her response. I DID start putting a few spoonfuls of rice cereal in my babies' nightime bottles around 3 1/2 to 4 months to get them to sleep longer. It did work with no adverse effects!

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answers from Dallas on

Tell your girlfriend to stop feeding your baby cereal!! It is very bad for him! Yes, you are right - it can cause digestive problems and possible diabetes later on in his life. I cannot believe her pediatrician told her it's okay to do that. Is this pediatrician board certified?

Here are some tips to get your baby to sleep longer:
1) Have her feed him either breastmilk or formula (nothing else) right before bed, which should be around 6:30 p.m. If she is keeping him up late in hopes he will sleep longer, she is wrong. The more a baby sleeps, the more a baby will sleep. So, plenty of sleep for your son.
2) Make sure she burps him right after he eats.
3) Make sure she puts a new diaper on him right before bed.
4) Make sure your son's bedroom is at a comfortable room temperature (not too hot and not too cold)
5) Make sure your son's room is pitch dark and totally quiet at bedtime and naptime

No more cereal! Have your girlfriend read this.

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answers from Stationed Overseas on

No 7 weeks is toooooo early!!! I didn't give my son cereal until he was 3 almost 4 months old when my ped said it was ok. I highly doubt a ped would recommend her feeding the baby cereal that early. Is she spoon feeding it to him mixed with water/ formula for is she putting it in the bottles? Either way he is to young for that. And when I started with my son it was less then 5 spoon fulls and it was mixed with an 8 oz bottle. Yes it may help him sleep longer because he is fuller but at his age and with that much it could hurt his digestive system. Make her stop or call the ped yourself and get the answer you need. He is your son too which means you have a right to make sure he is safe. Her parents shouldn't be letting her do that either. I wish the best of luck to you. :)

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answers from Nashville on

I think 7 wks is way to early on his little tummy. I started feeding my daughter cereal in the bottle at 3 months. But it was a small amount and her ped. said it was okay as long as i did it at night. So i only gave her cereal (small amount in bottle) at night until she was four months then i gave her a small amount 2wice a day. Tell her to wait until atleast 3 months and only give him a small amount. if she gives it in a bottle make sure the milk is still pretty runny. Do not make it thick.

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answers from Detroit on

People feed their children solids way too early all the time, I believe it can cause problems their tummies are not ready for solids even cereal till almost 6 months! The problem is you dont hear horror stories so no one thinks it is wrong.



answers from Wichita Falls on

It depends on the child and why the cereal is given. Some kids have a hard time feeling full and the cereal can help but 7 weeks is about the earliest that a baby should be sleeping through the night (with a few exceptions). There also could be other health reasons for this addition, if you are concerned, talk to the pediatrician. If you still have questions, get a second opinion.



answers from Lansing on

Me pediatrician normally does not recommend any solids before 6mo. However, at 3 mo my son had terrible acid reflux causing weight loss to the point of going from 40th to 1st percentile in 3 weeks and acid erosion in his esophagus, doc prescibed medication and small amounts of cereal and it helped him drastically. He said there are several reason not to give cereal this early as a rule: their digestive systems are not muture enough to digest it properly, they get all of their necessary calories and nutrients from breastmilk or formula, etc.
My daughter sees the same doctor and he did not recommend solids for her until after her 6mo checkup. I trust my doc and know he cares for my children, I told him I would like alternative points of view and would be asking other pediatricians to examine my son as well and then get back with him. He respected my decision and knew that I respected him. I then had my son see 2 other doctors, they both agreed with my pediatricians diagnosis and treatment and they did. Each doc and each child are individuals and have to be considered as such.



answers from Detroit on

A lot of mixed answers on this one! Maybe go with your girlfriend to your son's next doctor's appt. and ask the doctor yourself? Just for piece of mind. Or call the doctors office and inquire. My pediatrician gave me the ok to put 1T of rice cereal in my son's bottle at night only at 2 weeks old. However, my son weighed 9lbs 13ozs at birth and he was hungry ALL the time. We had no issues doing this. My son is now 20 months and is off the charts for his height and in the 70% percentile for weight. According to my pediatrician he's "tall and lean". I think you should personally check with your son's doctor...the professional before making any decisions! Good luck to you!



answers from Detroit on

My oldest child is 26 years old and I did not start cereal until after 4 months of age---in fact the dietary timing and presentation of foods protocol has not changed in all this time (I work with babies/toddlers in a professional capacity); however, many mothers and fathers dont listen to their pediatrician or read the guidelines. There are reasons to NOT start food too early which include upsetting digestive process, promoting allergies, etc. Also there is a reason that young babies DON'T sleep "through the night" initially. So I would encourage your girlfriend to follow expert advice.


answers from Grand Rapids on

Of course every child is different, so keep that in mind. I did the same thing will all 3 of my children and all was well. My sister did the same but it didn't go well with her kids so she stopped. If the doctor is suggesting it and the baby is handling it well, is full, happy and sleeping just fine, then I think you can relax.



answers from Waterloo on

my baby was 8 wks old when i started. i informed my doctor i was doing so, and he said that there is reasons for it to be frowned upon, they cant tell you not to do something. and that mother knows best. he's been fine and over 4 months old.



answers from Detroit on

This used to be common and some old-school people still believe in it, but all the modern research says it isn't a good thing.
Doubt it will harm the baby though. You can look at the American
Academy of Pediatricians website for their thinking. That's considered the standard.



answers from Jackson on

It's okay for you to call the pediatrician's office and question what's being prescribed for your child.

I suspect, it's her Mother or Grandma pushing the cereal. My Mother raised 7 children with cereal in a bottle and not one of us was sick from it.

I started out giving my daughter cereal at 8 weeks, (because my Mom had always done it,) my daughter ended up hospitalized with tracheo-bronchitis, she was taken off cereal. She didn't have solids again until approx.1 year of age. That was 30 years ago! This battle has been going on for a long time.

There is strong science indicating your girlfriend is (unintentionally) setting the baby up for allergies.

I wish you well,

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