When should i feed baby cereal

When, What, and How to Introduce Solid Foods | Nutrition

For more information about how to know if your baby is ready to starting eating foods, what first foods to offer, and what to expect, watch these videos from 1,000 Days.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend children be introduced to foods other than breast milk or infant formula when they are about 6 months old.  Introducing foods before 4 months old is not recommended. Every child is different. How do you know if your child is ready for foods other than breast milk or infant formula? You can look for these signs that your child is developmentally ready.

Your child:

  • Sits up alone or with support.
  • Is able to control head and neck.
  • Opens the mouth when food is offered.
  • Swallows food rather than pushes it back out onto the chin.
  • Brings objects to the mouth.
  • Tries to grasp small objects, such as toys or food.
  • Transfers food from the front to the back of the tongue to swallow.

What Foods Should I Introduce to My Child First?

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that for most children, you do not need to give foods in a certain order. Your child can begin eating solid foods at about 6 months old. By the time he or she is 7 or 8 months old, your child can eat a variety of foods from different food groups. These foods include infant cereals, meat or other proteins, fruits, vegetables, grains, yogurts and cheeses, and more.

If your child is eating infant cereals, it is important to offer a variety of fortifiedalert icon infant cereals such as oat, barley, and multi-grain instead of only rice cereal. Only providing infant rice cereal is not recommended by the Food and Drug Administration because there is a risk for children to be exposed to arsenic. Visit the U.S. Food & Drug Administrationexternal icon to learn more.

How Should I Introduce My Child to Foods?

Your child needs certain vitamins and minerals to grow healthy and strong.

Now that your child is starting to eat food, be sure to choose foods that give your child all the vitamins and minerals they need.

Click here to learn more about some of these vitamins & minerals.

Let your child try one single-ingredient food at a time at first. This helps you see if your child has any problems with that food, such as food allergies. Wait 3 to 5 days between each new food. Before you know it, your child will be on his or her way to eating and enjoying lots of new foods.

Introduce potentially allergenic foods when other foods are introduced.

Potentially allergenic foods include cow’s milk products, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy, and sesame. Drinking cow’s milk or fortified soy beverages is not recommended until your child is older than 12 months, but other cow’s milk products, such as yogurt, can be introduced before 12 months. If your child has severe eczema and/or egg allergy, talk with your child’s doctor or nurse about when and how to safely introduce foods with peanuts.

How Should I Prepare Food for My Child to Eat?

At first, it’s easier for your child to eat foods that are mashed, pureed, or strained and very smooth in texture. It can take time for your child to adjust to new food textures. Your child might cough, gag, or spit up. As your baby’s oral skills develop, thicker and lumpier foods can be introduced.

Some foods are potential choking hazards, so it is important to feed your child foods that are the right texture for his or her development. To help prevent choking, prepare foods that can be easily dissolved with saliva and do not require chewing. Feed small portions and encourage your baby to eat slowly. Always watch your child while he or she is eating.

Here are some tips for preparing foods:

  • Mix cereals and mashed cooked grains with breast milk, formula, or water to make it smooth and easy for your baby to swallow.
  • Mash or puree vegetables, fruits and other foods until they are smooth.
  • Hard fruits and vegetables, like apples and carrots, usually need to be cooked so they can be easily mashed or pureed.
  • Cook food until it is soft enough to easily mash with a fork.
  • Remove all fat, skin, and bones from poultry, meat, and fish, before cooking.
  • Remove seeds and hard pits from fruit, and then cut the fruit into small pieces.
  • Cut soft food into small pieces or thin slices.
  • Cut cylindrical foods like hot dogs, sausage and string cheese into short thin strips instead of round pieces that could get stuck in the airway.
  • Cut small spherical foods like grapes, cherries, berries and tomatoes into small pieces.
  • Cook and finely grind or mash whole-grain kernels of wheat, barley, rice, and other grains.

Learn more about potential choking hazards and how to prevent your child from choking.

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When Can You Start Feeding a Baby Rice Cereal? Safety and More

If you ask for advice on the best time to start feeding your baby rice cereal, the responses may be all over the place. Some people might suggest feeding a baby rice cereal starting at 6 months, whereas others might suggest as young as only 2 or 3 months old.

But just because someone else gives their baby rice cereal early doesn’t mean that you should do the same. For advice, the best place to go is to your own pediatrician — they’re the authority on your baby’s health. In the meantime, here’s what other experts recommend.

Updated recommendations

New guidelines caution that rice cereal shouldn’t be the only solid given. So the old practice of starting only iron-fortified rice cereal at about 6 months is no longer recommended.

For the first few months of life, you’ll feed your baby exclusively with breast milk or formula. Anything other than breast milk or formula is considered a solid food. So when deciding the right time to start your baby on rice cereal, you should follow the same guidelines for starting a baby on solid foods.

Some people argue that rice cereal is an exception to the guidelines — perhaps because of the ability of rice cereal to dissolve in (and “thicken”) breast milk or formula when added in small quantities.

Yet, rice cereal is a solid food. Babies aren’t ready for solid foods until they’re about 6 months old.

Since every baby is different, it’s important to look for signs that your baby is actually ready to start eating rice cereal before serving it.

You should hold off feeding a baby solid food until they have control of their neck and head. Your little one will need to be upright while eating, so they should be able to sit in a highchair.

Most importantly, don’t give a baby rice cereal until they have the oral skills to move solid food from the front of their mouth to the back. This skill doesn’t typically develop until at least 4 months old. Until then, your baby’s tongue will push out any food that enters their mouth.

Another telltale sign that your baby may be ready for solid food is when they express an interest in your food. If you’re eating in their presence, they might try to grab your food — or lean in toward food with their open mouth (have your camera ready!).

For the most part, you shouldn’t give a baby rice cereal before the recommended guidelines. Even though the extrusion reflex — that automatic reflex that causes a baby’s tongue to push food forward — can provide some protection before they’re ready, offering solid food too early can still pose a choking or aspiration risk.

Giving a baby rice cereal — or other solid foods — too early may also increase a baby’s risk of having obesity.

But when they’re ready, rice cereal can be a great starter food, among others.

After several months of only consuming breast milk or formula, some babies have difficulty adjusting to solid foods.

To start the introduction process, mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of iron-fortified rice cereal with 4 to 6 tablespoons of formula, breast milk, or water. Some people mix rice cereal with fruit juice, too. But this isn’t recommended because fruit juice doesn’t offer health benefits and is very high in sugar.

Spoon feed an iron-fortified rice cereal to your baby. (It’s important that babies get enough iron once they start solid foods.) But don’t be surprised if it takes a couple of feedings for your baby to get the hang of eating this way. You can nurse or bottle feed first, and then end feedings with rice cereal.

Doctors used to recommend rice cereal as a “first food.” But now we know that age-appropriate foods can be introduced in any order, and rice cereal shouldn’t be the only solid given for very long due to arsenic exposure, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

You can introduce other jar or puréed foods like fruits and vegetables before or after you introduce rice cereal. And do include other iron-fortified, single-grain cereals besides rice. Variety is the spice of life — even for baby!

When introducing new solid foods to your baby, do so one at a time. This way, you can detect any potential food allergies or sensitivities early. For example, after you feed your baby peas for the first time, wait 3 to 5 days before introducing carrots.

You might have heard of adding rice cereal to a bottle to thicken breast milk or formula. This, however, isn’t recommended unless your pediatrician says it’s OK.

If your baby has episodes of acid reflux, your doctor might advise this method to thicken the milk and try to prevent regurgitation. But this is rare.

Starting a baby on solid food is a major milestone, but you shouldn’t introduce rice cereal too early. Doing so poses a few different risks. So wait until your baby is about 6 months, and look specifically for signs that they’re ready for solids.

When in doubt, talk it out — with your pediatrician. They’re a goldmine of information, and best of all, they know your baby’s health better than anyone else, including Dr. Google.

what not to feed a child on a regular basis

Vika Vishnyakova


Author profile

Food labels “suitable from 4 months old”, “enriched with vitamins”, “promotes growth” make you think that this is the ideal food for children.

And if we want a child to be healthy and develop normally, then it is better to buy products from the shelves of children's stores, and in restaurants and cafes choose food from the children's menu. But in most cases, it's all just marketing.

We understand that it can be difficult to feed a child broccoli and healthy white fish, and if he only asks for corn flakes for breakfast, then it is easier for him to give them and avoid tantrums. This does not make you a bad parent.

I'll tell you why "baby" products can be dangerous.

Go see a doctor

Our articles are written with love for evidence-based medicine. We refer to authoritative sources and go to doctors with a good reputation for comments. But remember: the responsibility for your health lies with you and your doctor. We don't write prescriptions, we make recommendations. Relying on our point of view or not is up to you.

Cereals and corn flakes

Even if cereals contain iron, they make the child smart and active, do not overdo it.

Breakfast products advertised for children contain 3 times more sugar than those advertised for adults: Spanish study

They are actually high in sugar and low in nutrients. This can lead to an unbalanced menu, when there are few macro and microelements important for the development and maintenance of health, and a lot of calories, sugar and salt.

For example, a 30-gram serving of Nestlé breakfast cereal contains about 14 g of sugar. Most often, we do not measure portions with the help of scales, but pour "by eye" - there can be more sugar. For a preschooler, this amount of sugar is the daily norm.

This limit includes all added sugars in any form and with any name. Corn syrup, dextrose, coconut sugar, honey, Jerusalem artichoke syrup and agave nectar are also free sugars that WHO recommends limiting in the diet.

How to calculate sugar in foods: 61 sugars

Allowable amount of free sugars in a child's diet

Age How much sugar can you have per day
4-6 years 19 g or 5 teaspoons
7-10 years 24 g or 6 teaspoons
over 11 years old 30 g or 7 teaspoons


How much sugar is possible per day

4-6 years

19 g, or 5 teaspoons

7-10 years

24 g, or 6 teaspoon


30 g or 7 teaspoons

The WHO and the American Heart Association recommend eliminating all added sugar up to 2 years and the UK Department of Health up to 4 years.

Breakfast alone can contain a daily amount of sugar, but in addition to breakfast, there are other meals, inconspicuous snacks, desserts and juice. It turns out to be an overkill.

If you regularly exceed the sugar norm, this can lead to unpleasant consequences:

  • overweight;
  • type 2 diabetes mellitus;
  • cardiovascular disease;
  • caries;
  • nutrients will be less absorbed.

And the passion for sugar changes the perception of tastes: the usual kiwi or peach seems not sweet enough, and sugary cookies are just right. This can force other foods out of the diet.

All the health benefits of breakfast cereals are in the flour from which the balls or pillows are made. That is, ordinary cereals were cleaned of the shell - the most valuable element of the grain, ground into flour, added sugar in several forms, butter, starch and additional ingredients to improve taste and texture. To compensate for the loss of vitamins and trace elements that were removed along with the grain shell, the product can be enriched with vitamins and minerals. But this is not always done.


The main thing is variety: a ready-made menu for the average Russian

If we gave children ordinary cereals, then there would be more fiber - food for beneficial bacteria in the intestines, the very vitamin B with which the manufacturer promised to increase the ingenuity of consumers, others important trace elements and there would be no added sugar.


The Union of Pediatricians of Russia notes that juices contain few vitamins and minerals, but a lot of sugar, so they should not be offered before 12 months. The habit of drinking juices can increase the risk of tooth decay and obesity.

The WHO, European and American Societies of Pediatrics do not recommend giving free sugars to children under 2 years of age. And juice is one of their forms. If fiber is removed from the product, but only juice or its concentrate is left, then the product goes into the section of free sugars - “free” from fiber. That is, any juice - even marked "without sugar" - is still a variant of sugar.

Whole fruits should not be limited in the diet: it is almost impossible to get an excess of sugars from them, but from juices it is easy. For example, it takes me four oranges to make a glass of freshly squeezed juice. A child will drink such a glass in one minute and ask for more. But if I cut these four oranges, he will manage two at best. At the same time, the child will receive fiber, vitamins, minerals and a bonus in the form of training the jaw apparatus.

A glass of freshly squeezed juice may be in the diet of a child over 7 years of age. Until this age, pediatric organizations recommend giving juices occasionally and diluting with water in a ratio of 1:1.

Unicef ​​- what to feed a baby up to 1 year old

A package of baby juice can contain up to 6 tablespoons of free sugars, absolutely no fiber and a dubious amount of vitamins, because almost all of them are destroyed during the production process. And a whole apple contains 5 g of fiber - that's 20% of the daily value for adults, 9mg magnesium and 0 g free sugars.

Relationship between juice consumption and excess weight: Harvard Medical School

Dairy products for children

By itself, milk, kefir and fermented baked milk are essential foods in the diet. From them, children get calcium, protein, various microelements, and from fermented milk products they also get beneficial bacteria.

But now, baby dairy products are not always a good option, despite the labels "from 6 months" on the packages. The point here is not in the milk itself and its derivatives, but again in exceeding the safe norms of sugar with the regular use of such products.

Nutrition for children aged 1-3 years: guidelines from the Union of Pediatricians of Russia

Dairy guidelines: American Pediatric Association

WHO recommends 2-3 servings of dairy products per day: each serving is the size of a child's fist. For example, it can be 100 ml of kefir or a jar of non-drinkable yogurt 120 g.

But if you put 1-3 teaspoons of sugar in each of them, as manufacturers of children's yogurts do, you get a search for the norm of sugars with all the ensuing consequences for health . In addition, we can form the wrong taste preferences: after the “strawberry flavored” option, ordinary fermented baked milk may seem insipid to the child and he will refuse it. Therefore, it will be more useful to give ryazhenka without additives and put a couple of berries in it for taste.

"Children's menu" in restaurants and cafes

Most often, the children's menu offers french fries, sausages, nuggets and dumplings. It seems that this is a variant of a normal lunch for children.

Almost all of these products are ultra-processed. That is, those in which there are almost no nutrients, but there are a large number of flavor enhancers and preservatives: salt, sugar and fats. Yes, they affect our receptors and such food seems tasty, but there is very little nutritional value in it.

This is the children's menu on the website of the family cafe. The paper version also offers sausages with pasta

There is a connection between the regular consumption of ultra-processed food and lipid metabolism disorders in children. In the future, this can lead to atherosclerosis and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. And also to an imbalance in nutrition, metabolic disorders and obesity.

Study on the association of frequent consumption of fast food and obesity in children

Scientific review on the impact of fast food on children's health

Ultra-processed foods can be included in the diet of adults and children, but as a supplement to a basic balanced diet, not as a replacement for it.

If you feed this food every day, then the children form the idea that this is a normal food option. Then why eat broccoli and shrimp on another day? Food with an adequate level of nutritional value can be forced out of the diet, and this is fraught with a deficiency of essential substances.

Therefore, when looking at the menu with your child, it is important to draw his attention to the fact that nuggets and fries are more of an addition to the main course, and if you need to satisfy your hunger, then it is better to choose alternatives with a higher nutritional value. And be prepared for the question "If this is not children's food, then why is it on the children's menu?".


Going to a cafe with your family and not going broke: 7 places in Moscow with a free children's menu child, because it is sold in a pharmacy. It is also much healthier than candy because it contains iron. The same applies to ascorbic acid in dragee format: vitamin C in a "candy" package is just a godsend for parents who want to strengthen their child's immunity.

A 50g hematogen bar contains about 5g of iron and 30-40g of sugar. For comparison: the same amount of iron in 25 g of stewed liver, 30 g of sesame seeds, 12 tablespoons of boiled lentils or 150 g of beef steak. Moreover, these products do not contain added sugar.

One dragee of ascorbic acid weighing 2.9 g contains 2.8 g of sugar, and ascorbic acid itself is only 25 mg - 112 times less than sugar. The same amount can be obtained from 50 g of bell pepper or half a kiwi.

If you do not live in conditions of total food shortage, then the child does not need either hematogen or ascorbic acid. They may be optional, as a dessert, but not as a necessary means to maintain health.


No Sugar or Carbs: 6 Healthy Eating Myths

Bottom Line

  1. Baby food is not a set of products with cartoon characters on the packaging and the inscription “from 6 months”.
  2. Children's diet is the usual food groups: vegetables, fruits, cereals, dairy products, protein sources and moderate amounts of fats, among which unsaturated fats are preferred. Minimum salt, moderate amount of sugar.
  3. Products targeted at children often contain too many free sugars, but this is not always clear if you look only at the front of the package.
  4. Juices are no healthier than water, children don't need to "drink" some kind of norm on purpose. They may be present in the diet of a child older than a year, but not as a source of vitamins, but rather as a dessert.

Is breastfeeding on a schedule or on demand? | Mamovedia

There are eternal themes in parenthood and childhood, one of the tiki topics is breastfeeding. It would seem that everything has already been said on this topic, WHO recommendations have been received, but there are still disputes about how to properly feed the baby.

If we are breastfeeding on demand, then how can we remove the baby from the breast if he is used to demanding it all the time?

There are many adherents of this or that way of feeding, and everyone has good arguments and everyone is right in their own way. Let's look at each of them:

According to pediatricians, the baby should be taught to the regimen from birth and from the age of 7 days, he is quite ready to eat according to the regimen. Of course, in the first days of life, the baby is applied quite often (10-12 times), as it should be, but from the age of one month, he can already switch to 7-8 meals a day. Most often, children overeat when they eat on demand, as during feeding according to the regimen, they eat the required portion of 120-140 ml in the first month and then more and more. When feeding on demand, the baby feeds every 30-40 minutes or once an hour, which in combination leads to more food than necessary due to such “snacking”. As a result, you may be overweight.

In the first months, the feeding regimen should be every 2 hours, from about 3 months, the regimen can be every 3-3.5 hours, while focusing on the physiological needs of the baby.

The main advantages of feeding according to the regimen are:

  • good and high-quality digestion
  • the child’s habit of eating hourly, that is, the regimen is formed
  • good and correct weight gain and household chores

But along with this, you can find disadvantages of feeding according to the regimen

The feeling of hunger in a small child, like any person, is regulated by internal metabolism, that is, the body itself regulates the amount of food and its consumption. This regulation leads to the fact that the body develops normally. But if the body is given a regimen every 2-3 hours, for example, then this can bring some harm, so we adjust and rearrange the body, and this is not physiological.

We all experience a feeling of hunger when the blood sugar level drops, the pancreas is the regulator of the sugar level, and if it is disturbed by the same regimen, this can lead to all kinds of diseases.

Today, more than half is still on the side of feeding on demand, and here are its advantages:

  • Convenience. Mom is not in stress mode to keep the alarms going. The child wanted to eat - the mother fed.
  • Meal dosage . The child himself doses the amount of food that he needs.
  • Prevention of lactostasis in the mother

The main disadvantages of feeding on demand, according to adherents of the regimen, is the attachment of the child to the breast. More frequent attachments practically turn into the so-called “spring on the chest”, every hour or an hour and a half. This does not favorably affect the intestines of the child, and overfeeding is also possible, due to which the baby is gaining weight more than normal.

Those who are on the side of demand feeding believe that if the child is healthy and everything is fine, then he will not overeat on demand. Children who are overexcited, have gone through a difficult birth, have a birth injury or have a pain syndrome, for them very often the act of sucking is a variant of calming, the child often asks for breasts and this is not always due to hunger. In this case, the child can be offered a pacifier.

When weaning starts, from 6-7 months, then transferring the child to a regimen that will be more convenient and expedient, since giving mashed potatoes, meat or porridge every 30-40 minutes, is basically impossible. There are a lot of tips and recommendations, but in reality it is difficult to implement, since at this age it is already an independent person who has his own emotions and habits.

Learn more