Starting Cereal and Continuing to Breastfeed - Quincy,MA

Updated on March 23, 2008
E.M. asks from Quincy, MA
8 answers

Hello moms,

My pediatrician wants me to start feeding my 4.5 month old son cereal and because they think he has a milk protein allergy. They want me to start him on Beech Nut cereal. Anyway, I am not convinced he has a milk allergy because he is still fussy, although it has only been 1.5 weeks. Maybe some of you have read my other post.

I think he is too young to start solids/cereal. Does anyone else think so? I was going to wait until he was 6 months old or at least close to that. I am wondering how to go about feeding him cereal and solids and keep brestfeeding him. What would a typical schedule be? Do you breastfeed first and then give him cereal? Do the number of nursings per day decrease or stay the same? Right now he nurses or bottle feeds while I am at work 6x/day and every 2.5 - 3 hours. Will that time ever get further apart or will he always be nursing this frequently? Just wondering how to integrate solids and cereal with breastfeeding? Any advice/tips would be great! I seriously have no idea. I have read a lot and am still confused about introducing the fruits and veggies as well. Do you eat them separately from the cereal or add it to the cereal? start with 1 cereal serving a day and then end up with 3 cereal feedings/meals per day? i am sorry if this is confusing at all.

Thanks so much!

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answers from Boston on

Hi E.,
I read this post and the previous one you mentioned. If you were my friend and we had this conversation over coffee and you told me what you have written in your posts, I would look you in the eye and say "E., you've got to find another pediatrician!" Your feelings are right on. This guy is giving you bad medical advice for your child, period.

Do some research on your own on reputable websites (,,,, and find a pediatrician who is better acquainted with current medical recommendations: a child should be fed EXCLUSIVELY on breastmilk (no water, no cereal, no nothing) until at least six months of age. You will know when your baby is ready for solid foods. He will try to grab what you are eating, he will make chewing motions when watching you eat, he will perhaps even choose his own time and item for his first food!

I found that my little guys never really ate any cereal. We had it around to add bulk to really watery fruits and veggies, but if you wait until they really are ready for food, they will want food and not mushy cardboard, and their little bodies will be ready, too.

We just treated food like a game until about one year. It was for experimenting and learning and exploring. Baby gets all the nutrients he needs from breastmilk until at least a year old, so don't drop any feedings until he leads you to do that (again, he'll let you know!). This really takes the pressure off, and mealtimes were just kind of fun at our house. No schedules, no worries about calories or ounces. All I kept track of was each item they ate on any given day, just in case of an allergy (unlikely in a breastfed baby).

As to your question about your dairy-free diet, I have no personal advice from experience, but I work with lactation consultants, and I seem to remember that you should give it more like three weeks to work. Again, ask a QUALIFIED doctor!

Believe it or not, eventually you will once again feel like you are not constantly nursing or pumping! Pretty soon your nursling will stretch the interval to four hours between, then four times a day, then three, etc. Just let him take it at his own pace and you can't go wrong.

Hope some of this helps. You're doing great! Asking the right questions, listening to your instinct...keep it up!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

At this point you are just introducing solids so a table spoon a day is enough. The main source of nutrition should still be breastmilk. I breastfed my sons until they were 12 months and my daughter until 16 months. I started my boys on solids at 4 months and my daughter at 5 months. I waited for cues from them that they were interested in what we were eating.

I started with dinner... when we all sat down to eat I would give them a couple of bites of cereal, which I made with breastmilk. You only introduce one new food at a time. So if you start with rice cereal for 3-5 days then move on to a different type of cereal. So, if your child has had rice cereal without a problem, you can feed her rice cereal and a new fruit or vegetable. You want to only introduce one new food at a time and watch for a reaction, once the food is "in the clear" you can continue feeding it to your child as you introduce more new foods.

Once my daughter (now 2) was eating solids regularly I only pumped twice a day at work. She was always offered breast milk first then as she worked up to eating breakfast and lunch I ended up only needing to pump once a day at work. She was probably about 8 months old before she was regularly eating 3 solid meals.



answers from New London on

Hi E.,
I'm sorry you're having such a stressful time. Adding cereal can be a very controversial topic for some breastfeeding mamas. Although I can't speak from experience on this particular issue (allergy from breastmilk), I can tell you that throughout your child's life, you may question your decisions, but go with your gut. I don't see anything wrong with adding a little cereal at his age, but that is just my opinion. Depending on how much you give him, it may cut down on some nursing time, but you can also put breastmilk in it. Besides talking to your pediatrician, you may also want to talk to a lactation consultant to see if they have any recommendations for your diet. Maybe there is some other type of allergy going on. I wish you the best of luck!



answers from Boston on

Hi E.,

As far as the number of feedings during the day - you could cut it down to every 4 hours - your baby will just drink more during those times. That's what I did. My baby has a bottle every 4 hours and drinks about 6 ounces at each feeding with the exception of the last feeding of the night - in which he can sometimes take up to 8 ounces.
Regarding solids - my son is the same age and my pediatrician suggested the same thing. I've started giving my son a little cereal but he's not very interested in it - and therefore I don't push it. I give him the cereal first, then nurse afterwards. That way, he'll get nutrients from the cereal and get somewhat full, and then nurse for the rest that he needs. Where if you do it the other way around, he may be full from nursing and you won't get any cereal in him.
As with anything - this is just my opinion coming from my own experience. You need to do what you feel is right :-)



answers from Boston on

breastmilk is the best food for your baby still and if you feel like he's not ready to start - then go with your instinct. a mother's instinct is usually never wrong (even if it goes against what the dr. says!) my pediatrician who is also a lactation consultant doesn't suggest starting solids til at least 6 months (or more) especially if you are breastfeeding. he also told us to skip cereal - which we did and we went straight to veggies and then to fruit. and believe my - my son was well fed!!! :-) check out his website - and check out too. it is one of the best breastfeeding sites i have found! it is loaded with info!!

i did an elimination diet when i was nursing as my son had eczema and we thought it was an allergy. i stopped eating all kinds of things - wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, etc and then slowly re-introduced them to watch for reactions. you could try that and use things like almond or rice milk instead of dairy - or goat's milk as it is supposedly the closest to breastmilk. if he does have have allergies - breastfeeding is the best food for your baby (see below). feel free to ask me any more questions if you want!!
ps - here's an article on allergies and babies

My 9-month-old daughter is allergic to both milk and dust. No one else in the family has allergies. What causes them?

When your daughter was five months old, were you surprised that she couldn't walk? Of course not! Her legs weren't coordinated yet. We shouldn't be surprised if the immune system is also uncoordinated in young children.

If your infant has allergic tendencies, you want to keep her away from "foreign" proteins in her diet for the first 12 months. This means staying away from milk, eggs, and meat. When your pediatrician advises solid foods, start with fruits and vegetables. When the baby is at least seven months old, you can start slowly adding cereals to the diet.

As the child gets older, my advice is to keep her on this same diet, adding a greater variety of fruits, vegetables (including beans), and grain products. Children exposed to high-protein foods, especially during the first year of life, have a greater susceptibility to allergies.

If your child is a toddler and you suspect there are allergy problems with foods such as chicken, dairy, wheat, eggs, or specific fruits or vegetables, you can determine the culprit by removing the suspect food from her diet. For a few days, feed the child only a limited number of fruits and veggies. Then, add in the suspect foods one at a time. This can be as accurate as the allergist's scratch test. If you give a child some milk and she gets a stomach ache and diarrhea, then stay away from milk.

Milk allergy is the most common allergy I see in my office. Most people aren't allergic to the lactose in milk. They're allergic to the protein. That means it doesn't matter if the milk is nonfat or "lactose-reduced" or that you only give your child a couple of teaspoons on her cereal. It can take only a spoonful of milk to trigger an allergic reaction which may include a runny nose, ear infection, intestinal upset, or a rash. I recommend that your family not drink milk. I consider it to be the number one allergen in our diet.

I would like to emphasize here that we never see allergies to breastmilk. The reason for this is breastmilk is custom-made for the human baby. It fights infection and, if the mother is willing to pay careful attention to her diet while nursing, there should be little or no problem with digestion or gas. Breastmilk doesn't "awaken" the immune system prematurely. If a child is allergic to cow's milk, the mother will have to avoid eating dairy products because their amino acid patterns will get into the breastmilk and cause a reaction.

Another culprit is eggs. I see a lot of children who are very sensitive to eggs. Like milk, it's the protein that causes the problems. I believe that eggs aren't a good food for anyone because of all the cholesterol, fat, and contaminants.

Since allergies play into one another, the more you can control the better. If your child has an allergy to milk, wheat, dust, and pollen, you may not be able to protect her from dust and pollen. However, you can make her much healthier by eliminating wheat and milk. The good news is that when children eat whole foods emphasizing fruits, vegetables, and grains, you get many fewer allergies, even in families with a history of sensitivity.



answers from New London on

As a current breastfeeding mom of a 9 month old, I agree with the others who say GO WITH YOUR GUT. If you don't feel your baby is ready for cereal, DON'T DO IT. Just because your pedi says so, doesn't mean it's right for you and your family. I wanted SO bad to wait to 6 months AT LEAST with my DD, but she was ready at 5.5 months. She started grunting at us while we were eating, grabbing at our foods and just appeared ready. But, it was a trial run. We would go a day or two without cereal, then try again. Good luck to YOU!!!!



answers from Boston on

Hi E.,
Im sorry to hear that your baby is fussy. My son was VERY fussy. I wasnt able to bring him anywhere without an exit route. When he was 4months old I started ceral and he became more fussy. That same weekend I started formula and he had a terrable reaction we were in the hospital for two days. Turns out he has a severe milk protien allergy. Once I eliminated ALL milk from my diet( I was breast feeding) he became another baby all together. So I exclusivle breastfeed untill he was six months and by that time he was really ready to eat!!!
K. D



answers from Portland on

E., It sounds as if you have already gotten some very good advice and my question to your Pediatrician (which we must remember, they too are only human) would be if he/she thinks your little boy has allergies why on earth would you introduce another food?

Has anyone suggested to you to stop drinking milk? My mother was told that my brother was allergic to her milk. I never believed that, he was probably allergic to the milk she was drinking to try to do what the doctors told her back in the 50's. Since I wanted to prove everyone wrong I nursed all three of my children exclusively at least until 6 months minus a taste here and there. They continued to nurse my oldest, daughter, until 2, my first son until 17 mo. and my second until 16 mo. I also worked with my last and that entered in pumping. Not as easily as you young ladies have it today with the plug in machines, boy those look great.

When introducing solids I started with the cereal too and mixed it with breast milk. I used Playtex nurser bottle sleeves on the opposite breast as I nursed to allow the drips of my let down to collect and use for latter, i.e. when introducing cereal. If you are truly set on solids at this age to cure his "fussiness" feed first then follow with a nursing session. Any problems with him getting upset will then melt away in your nursing session for him and for you.

If the "fussiness" is caused because he is hungry then the times will distance themselves from each other so your 2.5 hour may turn to 3 hr. But seriously try staying away from milk yourself in case he is receiving any COW milk proteins through the breast milk. Not sure if that can be transferred that way! But I know how I feel if I have COW milk now and my daughter too, it's severe cramping and gas anywhere from 3-8 hours after ingesting. So he may be fussy 2.5-3 hours after a nursing because of the milk you drank 8 hours ago.

The introduction of fruits and vegetables shouldn't come until latter. Don't rush the introduction of solids if you are already having digestive issues.

The last thought I want to share with you is that you may have to schedule him a bit more in the morning to allow for a good nursing, getting you empty, before the day starts. Just enjoy that early morning nursing, sometimes when you wake your baby to nurse it's a better, calmer, session because nobody is upset. Just grab him from bed and slowly wake him and change him and snuggle to nurse. I would have a hard time with a day job cuz I'm not a 5 A.M. mom.

Don't try to feed the cereal in the morning. Allow the caretaker to offer it as a snack, followed by your breast milk bottle. Remember that when you add the breast milk to the cereal because of all the good stuff in the breast milk, the cereal will begin to break down and you may be spooning in liquid after a while. It's digesting the cereal already.

I've been rambling! so good luck! Go with your gut feelings about giving him solids and try to stay away from dairy yourself for at least two weeks to see if it changes his fussiness.


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