When Can You Start Putting Cereal in the Baby's Bottle?

Updated on April 09, 2008
I.B. asks from Orange Park, FL
47 answers

My daughter is a little over 3 months old now. I was just wondering when it is ok to put some cereal in her bottle. I go to a pediatrics group with about 4 or 5 different docs. They each seem to have their own opinion on when it is ok to put about a tbsp of cereal in the bottle. I don't know if it makes a different that she was 5 weeks early. I'm guessing some docs might be reluctant b/c they fear she may not be developed enough (even though she is healthy & a good weight of almost 12 pounds).

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So What Happened?

I just wanted to thank everybody for their opinions. For me, it always helps to to get feedback & hear of other people's experiences. I realize that all babies are different so I will just have to do what I think is best for my daughter. I did want to let everyone know I have started putting just a teaspoon full of rice cereal in my daughter's bottle (gonna build up to the tablespoon). I was affraid to put too much in it at first. It makes the formula a little bit thicker & it stays with her longer. It seems to be helping her sleep better at night too. She's sleeping for 4 & 5 hours at a time vs. 3 before.

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N.L.

answers from Fort Walton Beach on

My daughter is 11 months old now and I started putting formula in her bottle when she was around 3 months just so it would fill her up more before bed time. It did help her sleep longer. I didn't add it in the daytime until she was over 4 months old. I think it helped her transition into spoon fed cereal at 5 1/2 months because she was adjusted to taste.

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V.H.

answers from Jacksonville on

I am an RN with a six year old. He had reflux when he was a baby and my pediatrician started putting formula in his bottle when he was six weeks old to thicken it. RIce cereal works best and we use the scooper for the formula: 1 scoop per bottle.

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G.G.

answers from Orlando on

It's never a good idea to put cereal in a baby's bottle. It's a definite choking hazard especially at naps/bedtime. I also don't recommend people ask their doctor about nutrition advice unless they've had some training in the area. Doctors are good at diagnosing illness and disease and prescribing medication. That's what they went to school for, not nutrition.

It's best for the baby's health to wait as long as possible to start them on solids (ideally you want to wait until 6 months, but some babies are ready for solids early) because their digestive system is not mature enough to handle solid foods under 4 months and even at 4 months you want to give them whole foods that they can feed themselves with like chunks of avocado or banana so they can self regulate the amount of food they eat. These are the also the "First Foods" Dr. William Sears recommends in his "Family Nutrition Book".

Another excellent book to read on nutrition for kids is "Disease Proof Your Child" by Dr. Joel Fuhrman and his book for adults "Eat to Live". Buy them on Amazon or get them at your local library. These are not "dieting" books, but books to educate you about food politics and science based nutrition. The kind of information you should have learned in school at some point :)

G. G.
Certified Health Educator
Winter Park, FL
###-###-####

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P.H.

answers from Tallahassee on

Infants stomachs are devloped enough to handle the cereal, it's their mouths and tongues that that need to learn the chewing movements.Cereal does have nutrional value with theh B vitamins and zinc and iron- get the forified stuff. I personally and I know of several pediatricians that don't think you should put cereal in a bottle. My mom did it for me and all that. I just put Mac in a bouncy seat (upright) and started him on milky cereal at about that age- he was totally ready for it and didn't have any problems. He is a great eater now at 19mths too! He eats everything! I know some pedatricians are concerned about weight gain if you put it in a bottle, but I don't know if that is really too much of an issu since YOU control how much you are putting in it. I just choose do it with a spoon so he could practice eating and get used to the texture and he thought it was a fun thing to try- he got to hold the spoon etc. I don't know if it made a difference, but he was way ahead of his daycare class (he didn't start until one year) at using utensils and eating on his own. So many of them still use only their hands- which is normal too- but he will mostly use his fork and spoon. I guess it's really up to you! Good Luck and keep a few old bibs hany for the messy stuff! lol P.

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R.M.

answers from Daytona Beach on

I.,
You can't put it in the bottle ever so my dr said. However, you can spoon feed it to her when she is four months. It's not that easy, but she needs to learn how to eat from a spoon.
God Bless,
R.

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K.H.

answers from Jacksonville on

my advice to you is do what you feel you should do. You are going to get a lot of different answers for this topic. I started putting rice in my sons bottle when he was two months old, but they he started getting constipated, so I stopped. I haven't tried since, but now he is on baby food and he is 5 months. But, my advice to you is do what you feel is best for your baby. Only trial and error will tell you what to do. That is just one advice from one mother to another.

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V.O.

answers from Fort Walton Beach on

I dont feel it will hurt your baby if you want to start putting cereal in her or his bottle. I have 3 kids and I started them all on cereal by the time thy turn 2 months I never had a problem.

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C.T.

answers from Jacksonville on

As a mother of 3 kids ages 16, 11, 9 I can let you know that all of them started on cereal between 3 and 4 months. I started with a night bottle and when I saw it did not cause any problems I increased to morning and night. Good luck and enjoy her, time passes fast.

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C.H.

answers from Fort Walton Beach on

The reason why all doctors have a different opinion on this issuse is because there isn't a "right" answer. Every baby has a different need.
At three months, your baby is probably eating 4-6 ounzes every three to four hours. If she isn't lasting that long between bottles, give her 8 ounzes in her bottle and see if that makes her last 3-4 hours between feedings. If it doesn't, something else might be going on. You shouldn't ever really "have" to put cereal in a baby's bottle. Sometimes we do it for different reasons like wanting the baby to sleep longer at night or to reduce spitting up, but normally you don't ever have to give a baby cereal in his/her bottle.

Be sure you are reading her cues correctly. If you fed her an hour and a half ago and she ate a normal (for her) size amount, then chances are she isn't hungry. Sometimes when a baby has gas or an upset stomache, they will seem to be hungry because they give us the same body language cues. The reason for this is because they think they are hungry because their stomache hurts and feels the same to them as when they are hungry. When this happens, she will accept a bottle because it is (sorta) helping the stomache issue. So be sure of what she really needs first.
If you are sure she is still hungry after a normal feeding, I would first increase the amount of formula in her bottle before I would add cereal. If this helps her last 3-4 jours, you know you've found the problem.
If you determine that she is ready for some food, try spoon feeding her the cereal.
I hope this helps...~C.

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S.H.

answers from Jacksonville on

I.,

First I would start by saying what the Bible tells us in Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. Acknowledge Him in all thy ways and he will direct your paths.
I personally have two daughters and would wait and until her stomach has time to develop. She will be alright with the milk for now. I bottle fed one of mine and breast fed to other. And the doctors are right in telling you to wait. I hope that this is helpful and feel free to e-mail me anytime.

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E.A.

answers from Pensacola on

never! Cereal should ONLY be given off a spoon after four months (or four months adjusted) and better for six months. If doctor is concerned about weight gain then he will suggest a higher calorie formula. The only time that cereal in a bottle is good is if you have a reflux baby. Cereal in the bottle leads to all sorts of problems, obesity, diabetes, food allergies etc...

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T.H.

answers from Fort Walton Beach on

if she is just at the beginning stages of teething it is ok. for my boys we started when we saw that thier apetites were increasing. if you add it to the bottle then it will surpress her hunger for longer times in between feedings. by the time my boys were 4 months they started the first signs of teething and we started them on regular rice cereal. when you can feel new bumps in her gums that is how you can tell that she is in the first stages of teething.

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V.W.

answers from Jacksonville on

If I remember correctly, around 4 months is when babies begin to eat solids -- let me rephrase, begin to LEARN to EAT solids. Their source of nutrients is still the breast or bottle. But you'll begin giving a little solid food (starting with the cereals) at breakfast lunch and dinner... a few spoonfuls each time. It is experimentation time! It's FUN! There is no need to add anything to the bottle. As their food skills improve (and they grow bigger) they will begin to eat more (quantity and variety) solids at their meals, and over time (months) will drink less from the bottle. I NEVER added anything to my kids' bottles and I NEVER had ANY problems with them waking during the night after the first 6-8 weeks (unless ear infection, cold, etc). Please don't think that you EVER need to add stuff to the bottle, bc you don't. Some people have done it thinking it will help their babies sleep better at night.. but if that is what you are aiming for, then there are other things you can try that work better. Some people do it b/c that's what their mom did, or their friend did, etc. People substitute with juice too, but that is TOTALLY unnecessary and adds sugar for no good reason. My kids never drank juice and still don't care for it. I have one who is 7 and STILL only likes water, milk, milkshakes, and gatorade. It's GREAT. No sodas, b/c she's not accustomed to her beverage being a sweet snack. Good luck.

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P.M.

answers from Daytona Beach on

My opinion is - never. Bad habit. I believe you can start spoon feeding your baby a little (1 teaspoon) of rice cereal a little before bedtime. I was advised many years ago not to feed my children through the bottle, that one of the things that are important is that they learn to eat properly and it starts this way.

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E.M.

answers from Fort Walton Beach on

I've read in several places (and was advised by my doctor) NOT to put cereal in the bottle, but to spoon feed it to my baby. Sometimes they can choke a bit on the thicker formula, and this teaches them a new, fun skill! We started around 3-4 months with just a Tbsp. every evening.

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E.L.

answers from Tallahassee on

Hey, I.~ I have a 4 month old and am in the same boat as you. I read an article on www.babyfit.com that outlines things to look for to recognize when your child's ready for the next step with food. I thought it was very helpful because rather than it being a specific month, etc, you can see when your little ones ready regardless of age. There were a couple things I've noticed in Taylor. She's starting to eyeball my food and she seems hungry more often, so the 7 ozs ever 3 hours isn't cutting anymore.

My mom and I thought it's be cute to try and feed her applesauce on Easter.... yeah, well, it wasn't the baby applesauce and I had more white spit up/throw up on me than I have had to date with this little one. SO, avoid the adult apple sauce to begin with :)

Congrats on your new addition & take care!

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N.H.

answers from Tampa on

I personally do not agree with putting cereal in the bottle. The cereal when eaten from the spoon at about 4 months teaches the baby how to start eating a different way. The only "advantage" to putting cereal in the bottle is to make them sleep through the night, but this does not work as well as the theory says it does. If it helps them sleep, it usually because it is not easily digested and sits in their intestines for a long period of time. It also can cause them to wake up in pain if they are not digested well. I would hold off until 4 months and give from a spoon

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C.L.

answers from Jacksonville on

I read and heard from my ped. that you shouldn't put cereal in a bottle at all. I began feeding my son cereal from a spoon at about 6 months.

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K.C.

answers from Salinas on

I would not put anything in the bottle until the doc's say it's ok. My daughter was 4 weeks early and I did not give her cereal until she was at least 5 months and that was due to her acid reflux.

I have also heard that if you get cereal to early, stuidies have show it can be linked to obesity.

Hope this helps!

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I.H.

answers from Pensacola on

I don't know the official answer to the question but I started feeding my son cereal when he was able to swallow it. Somewhere around 4 months. I know some parents feed them cereal sooner but I would take the cue from your baby and try giving the baby a spoonful. If the baby swallows and wants more, I think she is ready. I tried at three months but he spit it out immediately.

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M.C.

answers from Daytona Beach on

I agree with Erin, it's not healthy at all

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B.L.

answers from Jacksonville on

i started putting cereal in my son's bottles around 4 months. i would try a tiny bit, and make sure she can swallow it. that would be the only concern i would think, that and making sure she doesn't get constipated. my son was downing the bottles, and was still hungry, so that is why we started adding the cereal...after he got used to that, we used to mix in some baby foods. it made the milk thicker, and he loved it! and btw, just so you know, my son is not overweight in the slightest, and he doesn't have any allergies at all so far, and he is two. good luck! :)

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D.L.

answers from Jacksonville on

Never in the bottle and no Cereal till the baby is 6 months old. There has been a lot of research to back this up, the main reason for no cereal.. it has no real nutritional value, and cereal is really just for the baby to first practice eating solids, that's why they say only start with a tablespoon at first. The baby should and ONLY get all thier nutritional needs from formula or breast milk the first 6 months of their lives, it is perfectly suited for them.
I'm a nutrition counselor for WIC, and WIC has a lot of information regarding this, since their main directive is supposed to be the nurtritional values of Women Infants and Children, and many of their counselors and nutritionists will work with anyone, whether you qualify for it or not.

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S.R.

answers from Orlando on

I.-
Every baby is different and have different needs. I am a mother of four children, three grown, baby 15. I actually gave all four of mine cereal really diluted the day they came home. Approximately 1 teaspoon but only around 10 pm. All four of mine slept through the nightfrom the day they came home and were satisfied during the day with just their formula. I mixed applesauce with it one night and bananas the next to keep their digestive system in line.

Try first give the bay more formula and if that satisfies her then you are fine, if not try a little bit of cereal. Good luck and let me know how you are doing.

S.

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M.M.

answers from Fort Walton Beach on

If you daughter seems hungry all the time or if she "goes wild" at the smell of food, she is already ready for cereal. Although most pediatricians will disagree that cereal is necessary at this age, most of them never hear the hungry cries of these underfed babies. Of course, you should start out slowly (one or two tablespoons of cereal to 4 ozs. breastmilk or formula) and gradually increase the cereal (or add other pureed solids) over the next week or so. If your daughter does not experience gas and/or bloating, she is doing just fine: If she does, simply cut back on the amount of solids given at one time (or feed you daughter solids once or twice daily).

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K.W.

answers from Pensacola on

To thicken up the formula a little to help with tha baby feeling full I always started them on cereal and baby food at 2 weeks of age cause all of my kids were small and i always wanted a chunky baby and it never happened! But I didi end up having a 8 lb skinny tall one lol! I always put about one to two table spoons of cereal in my kids bottles but I did also give them gas drops after I started using oatmeal but start off using rice cereal! Also spoon feed it to them as young as possible mine were 2 weeks eating really good green beans carrots peas and harty veggies and fruits! Try to give atleast one jar of plums to help them go potty! Good luck

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D.P.

answers from Tallahassee on

Well my son was three months when I started him on cereal. It was only in his bedtime bottle though. My son was only three weeks early and he weighed 10.7lbs, so development was not an issue. I understand that all babies, but especially preemies' digestive systems develop later, so maybe try a little at night as see if it agrees with your baby. If he/she seems more irritable than you probably need to wait a month a try again.

D.

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K.M.

answers from Daytona Beach on

My mother started us out with cereal at about a week old and we did the same with our children. Just a teaspoon in the bottle at bedtime. My mother always said that everyone needs a little something in their bellies so that they can sleep better. (other than just liquid) Or babies slept through the night and we have never had problems. My daughter just had a baby, 5 months now, and he has had cereal (rice) since 1 week old, he has always slept through the night.

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A.S.

answers from Indianapolis on

If she seems to stay hungry after a bottle you might consider putting in a very little cereal. But I would wait until it seams that she is still hungry after a bottle even it she is 5 months old before that happens. She let you know.
My son was a preemie by five weeks and he was never really hungry after his bottles until about 5 1/2 months old. Now his two years old and doesn't stop eating most times.

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B.G.

answers from Orlando on

I think every child is different and will show you signs of being ready for cereal based on sleep habits. My son who is now 2 years old was born at 31 weeks and his pediatrician recommended that I not introduce cereal until he was 6 months old. The rationale was that because I was nursing him, he wanted him to get as much breast milk as possible and introducing cereal would curve his appetite. Because I waited to introduce cereal, I also waited on baby food and ultimately table food. Now my son is an extremely picky eater and I'm not sure if it is a result of me keeping him away from solid foods for so long. Once I did introduce cereal at bedtime my son slept so much better and was satisfied much longer. Because your little one was a premie you really want to be sure her digestive system is ready to tolerate rice cereal. I think as long is she is healthy and showing you signs of wanting more, a small amount added to her bottle will help keep her satisfied. Good luck!

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T.R.

answers from Orlando on

Hi I.,

With our son he was also early and spent a month in the NICU, at about 3 months he hit this growth spurt and was eating all the time. I mean every 2 hours the kid was eating 9 ounces of formula and the poor little guy was HUNGRY. My original pediatrician was a man and he was admamant that putting it into a bottle was a waste of time and to not use cereal until they can eat it off a spoon. We I poo pooed that and put it in there myself, boy did it help. He felt so much better and started sleeping much better. I personally think mommy knows best and have a new pedi that is a female with kids and she feels the same way. I love that about her, she trusts my instincts! Take care and follow your "mommy senses"!
T.

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M.V.

answers from Ocala on

No kidding about the different opinions!!! My mom scoffed at me because I waited til my baby was 13lbs to feed (my dr's recommendation!) but if you read the breastfeeding books, they say to wait til the baby's 4-6 months. Phooey on that!

Here's what I did... when he hit 13 lbs, I fed him one TBSP rice cereal with enough formula or expressed milk to make it soupy-ish (like cream of wheat consistency). I fed him with a spoon out of a bowl. I'd read - and I believe - that this teaches him that this is FOOD and will set him up for better eating down the road. It was messy the first time but SOOOOOO cute! My little guy hit 13 lbs early - at about just over 2 months old. He'll be 4 months next week and I have him eating pears, sweet potatoes, peas and bananas.

You know what made me feel better? I checked my own baby book and my husbands.... goodness, we ate soooo much earlier than babies today and we're fine.

Anyway. good luck! Cheers, M. ([email protected]____.com)

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A.M.

answers from Daytona Beach on

Only add the cereal when you see that she needs it: feedings used to be every 4 hours and now it's every 3 and she doesn't seem to be as satisfied after eating (example).

I did not add cereal to my sons bottle because of the choking hazard (some bottles actually tell you on the packaging NOT to add cereal to the bottle. I recommend spoon feeding them the cereal ~ It is great practice for them. At this age you can use infant cereal or oatmeal mixed with some formula.

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M.K.

answers from Pensacola on

I think that the problem is not with actually giving the cereal, but in giving it in the bottle. I have 2 girls & I firmly believe that putting the cereal into the bottle creates confusion for the child. I think that you should attempt to feed the cereal with a spoon, no matter the mess:) This will begin to teach him/her to maneuver the food & how to eat.
I know that it seems like a good idea to add the cereal to the bottle, but it can produce an attachment to the bottle that can be hard to break. You want your baby to have healthy & happy associations with food. I think that it is a shortcut for the parents also to add to the formula because it can produce a more substantial sleep time, but when your baby is ready he/she will "eat" the cereal at their own pace.
Good luck & enjoy them while they are little!

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T.B.

answers from Pensacola on

The only time I have heard that it is a good idea to place cereal in a bottle is if the baby is suffering from reflux.Other wise the choke hazard is not worth the risk.

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L.C.

answers from Jacksonville on

I started with cereal @ about 8wks she had doubled her birth weight and was not satisfied after her feeding I started with 2 tbs of cereal and 4 oz of formula @ bedtime she started sleeping all night and was satisfied after her normal feedings

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J.P.

answers from Daytona Beach on

I would strongly recommend that you don't. For allergy reasons, most babies should not have cereal until at least 4-6 months old. There is also an increased risk of choking during feedings. Is she drinking an excessive amount of formula/breastmilk?
Cereal is best left for when she is ready for spoon feeding. :) Hope this is helpful.

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J.K.

answers from Gainesville on

Not yet. Generally the earliest most pediatricians recommend that you start solid foods is 4 months old. Because your daughter was premature you may have to wait until 4 months after her due date. However, it is generally recommended to wait starting solid foods until just before 6 months. If she's healthy and big enough, why do you want to put cereal in there anyway? It's not guaranteed to help her sleep through the night.
Also most peds I know don't recommend putting cereal in a bottle ever. You can mix cereal with breastmilk or formula or water but it's generally too clumpy to work with a nipple and what you are doing with cereal is getting them used to eating from a spoon anyway so you start with a spoon from the beginning.
Generally your daughter will let you know when she is ready to start solid foods. She'll get interested in what you are eating and she'll try to grab it. Wait for her cues, and then start her on cereal. My daughter couldn't stand the stuff; she thought it was nasty, so our first foods were the pureed fruits. www.kellymom.com is a good site with lots of information on starting your baby on solid foods. It is geared toward breastfeeding moms who are introducing solid foods, so if you aren't breastfeeding there will be information you won't need, but still it's a good site.

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J.S.

answers from Jacksonville on

don't be in such a hurry....she will take cereal soon enough. 5 months...6 months..over the course of her life, a month is a drop of sand...be patient with her and enjoy her right now as she is.

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A.R.

answers from Orlando on

All pediatricians have different opinions. I have two children a 9 year old boy and a 5 month old girl. When my son was 4 months the doctor said start him on solids including cereal. With my daughter the doctor said to wait til she was 6 months old. I started her on solids anyway. I do the same I did with my son. My daughter weighs 20 pounds and formula alone was no longer enough for her. I would recommend starting with rice cereal in her bottle. Rice is easier for them to digest.

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D.Q.

answers from Orlando on

All babies are different. If you see that 8 ounces doesn't sustain her for the normal 4 hours, its time to add cereal. Little at a time, until you feel its sustaining her normal feeding period. I started my son at 2 months, he is a hungry little boy. At 2, his age now, he is still a hungry little boy.

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F.R.

answers from Norfolk on

One thing I didn't see mentioned below is that when you add anything that thickens the formula to the bottle, it causes the baby to suck harder and can lead to ear infections.
I don't recommend putting cereal in the bottle. They should be ready to eat it off a spoon around 4-6 months.

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A.C.

answers from Pensacola on

My son was 4.5 weeks early and had some digestive problems. The doc recommended adding cereal to his bottle at 2 weeks. He is now 5 months old and is VERY healthy!!! My daughter is 19 months. She was 6 weeks early and I did not start her on cereal until she was quite a bit older. I really think it depends on the child and what their belly can handle.

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M.A.

answers from Orlando on

Our pediatrician says never to put cereal in a bottle because it is very dangerous for the baby. The baby can choke and it also makes it very difficult for the baby to get milk through the nipple. What we did is start feeding our son rice cereal or oatmeal with a spoon shortly before bed. That was around 6 months sold. It helped him sleep a lot longer and we knew it was safe...

Good luck!
M.

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B.W.

answers from Fort Walton Beach on

I have 3 children, and have babysat many more. i would say that it depends on the child. My twins were 2 months old and my daughter was about 4 weeks old when I started putting a tblspn into their bottles. So, I would say to listen to your baby, and add some if you think she is ready for it. Remember to change out the nipple as the cereal thickens up. a juice nipple is a good one to use. and the orange nipples are good to use once you add about 3-4 tblsp into the bottle, anything thicker I used a spoon. Good Luck!!

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J.M.

answers from Gainesville on

I would say dont start her on the cereal yet. I am actually surprised any of your doctors said put it in her bottle, that do not teach them to learn to eat and it more negative. But, if you did even just want to give it to her straight, she is too young. Her stomach isnt developed enough yet, and giving it to her too early can give her food allergies, and I am sure you would rather be patient and wait a few more months (some say even 6 months before giving cereal) rather than have to deal with food allergies the rest of her life. This young, the breast or formula is giving her all she needs. And if you thinking it might help with sleep...that is a gamble, it doesnt always help them sleep through the night. I would say wait, and never give it to her in the bottle.

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A.R.

answers from Jacksonville on

Cereal will not hurt your baby. My son was on it at 3 weeks oldand it helped satisfy his hunger. As the mother you will be the better judge of when to feed your baby. We put our greatgranddaughter on it at 3 months and if she needed it ateaspoon of karo syrup (dark). If she will drink Apple juice this is good but she still won't drink fruit juice.

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