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Should You Feed Your Baby Cereal From A Bottle?

When it comes to feeding a baby, you’ll find that everyone (from your grandmother to your aunt to the stranger on the street) has opinions on how babies should be fed, when babies should be fed, and what babies should be fed.

Some opinions are based in solid, researched evidence (for example, there’s plenty of evidence to indicate that breastfeeding is a healthier option for babies than formula-feeding.) Other opinions, however, will be based less on facts and more on past experience. You may hear a number of people say, “My mom did this with me!” or “My grandmother had 8 children, and she always did this…”

Putting Cereal In Your Baby’s Bottle

For example, you may have friends or family members suggest that you feed your baby cereal in a bottle. People often suggest this to parents whose babies don’t sleep, or whose babies don’t seem to be gaining much weight.

So, is this a good recommendation? Will putting cereal in your baby’s bottle help her sleep well, or eat more, or gain weight?

Is Putting Cereal In Your Baby’s Bottle A Good Idea?

Probably not. There are many risks associated with feeding your young baby (under 6 months) cereal from a bottle. Some of those risks include…

  • Choking. Adding cereal to a bottle thickens the milk. This makes it harder for young babies to swallow, increasing the changes that they’ll “aspirate” (or inhale) the thickened milk and choke on it.
  • Increased food allergies. There’s lots of evidence to suggest that introducing solids to a baby before 4 months of age significantly increases the risk that the baby will develop food allergies. This is because a young baby’s digestive system isn’t mature enough to handle solid foods until 4-6 months of age. We discuss food allergies in more detail in this post; check it out for more information.
  • Habitual overeating.Babies who take cereal from a bottle tend to drink more than babies who drink straight breastmilk or formula. This is the idea behind putting cereal into the bottle in the first place — that baby will take in more food.The problem is that when a baby routinely and consistently takes in large quantities of thickened milk, it can lead to a habit of overeating. And since childhood obesity rates are already problematic (and are on the rise), we definitely don’t want to teach our little ones to overeat from birth!
  • Lower nutrient intake. When parents add cereal to a bottle, they often reduce the amount of breastmilk or formula they put into the bottle (to make room for the added cereal). This is dangerous. For the first 6 months of life, breastmilk and formula provide all the nutrition a baby needs, while cereal provides little nutritional value until after 6 months. So if your baby is taking in less breastmilk and formula, he’s getting less of the vital nutrients he needs.

Will Putting Cereal In Your Baby’s Bottle Help Her Sleep Better?

This is usually the number one reason that parents even consider putting cereal in their baby’s bottle — friends and family members assure them that a little cereal in the bottle will help baby sleep longer and better. And for exhausted, sleep-deprived parents, even a little extra sleep sounds too tempting to pass up!

However, before you go racing to fill your infant’s bottle with rice cereal, you should know something — there’s no evidence that feeding your baby solids (whether by spoon or by bottle) will help her sleep better. That’s because when babies wake at night, they’re not just waking from hunger — they’re waking for a variety of other reasons (like sleep associations.) So adding cereal to your baby’s bottle likely won’t make a difference in her sleep, but it will put her at risk for a variety of complications.

Will Putting Cereal In Your Baby’s Bottle Help With His Reflux?

If your baby struggles with reflux, you may have heard friends and family members suggest adding cereal to his bottle as a way to thicken the milk and help it say down. Is this a good idea? Does it work?

The reviews on this are mixed. Some pediatricians actually recommend this to parents, and many parents claim that mixing cereal into their babies’ bottles reduces spitting up. However, other pediatricians caution that while adding cereal might reduce episodes of spitting up, it doesn’t actually cure the reflux. Others advocate for using a special reflux formula.

The bottom line: if your baby suffers from reflux, check with your pediatrician before making any changes to his diet.

Our Recommendation

Here’s our advice, for all parents: don’t add cereal to your baby’s bottle unless your doctor has advised you to. There are far too many risks associated with feeding your baby cereal from a bottle, and there are no actual benefits. Instead, stick with feeding your infant breastmilk and/or formula, and hold off on offering solids until close to 6 months of age.

Everything You Need To Know About Starting Solids – All In One e-Book!

thumbnailWhat if you could find everything you needed to know about starting your baby on solid foods – when it’s best to start solids, how to introduce solids, complications, food allergies, etc. – in one easy-reference guide? Now you can! Your Baby’s Start To Solid Foods: A Comprehensive Guide will walk you through every step of starting solids. Plus, your e-Book package includes several bonus materials, designed to maximize your success in starting solids. You’ll get a thorough guide to treating constipation, a dietitian’s advice on how to avoid 5 common solid-foods mistakes, and a weekly mean plan for your baby’s first year. Grab your e-Book today, and ensure your baby has the healthiest possible start to solid foods!

What are your thoughts on feeding a baby cereal from a bottle? Share them below!

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When Do Babies Eat Solid Foods In A Day?

You know when and how to start your baby on solids.  You’re familiar with the types and amounts of foods your baby can eat, based on her age.  You’ve mastered the basics of cooking, pureeing, and storing homemade baby food.  Congratulations, baby food expert — you know a lot!

Something you may not be feeling to confident about, however, is when (during the course of a day) you should be offering your baby solids.  You likely eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at roughly the same times each day, but is that schedule best for your baby?

Feeding Schedule Recommendations:  4-6 months

4-6 month old babies are just starting out on solids, so they’ll need smaller amounts of food, combined with large quantities of breastmilk and /or formula.  Also, it’s best to offer your baby solid foods after you’ve nursed or bottle fed him.  That way, he’s not too hungry when it comes time for a meal of solids, and that’ll prevent him from becoming frustrated and upset as he tries to eat.

Use the recommendations below to create a daily feeding schedule for your 4-6 month old baby:

  • Nurse and/or bottle feed as you normally would throughout the day (see our Amounts of Solid Foods By Age chart for recommended amounts of breastmilk and formula.)
  • After the first or second nursing or bottle feeding of the morning, offer your baby a solids meal (see our Types of Solid Foods By Age to determine what you can feed your baby.)  It’s best if babies just starting out on solids eat their food in the morning; that way, if baby has any digestive issues, they won’t disturb his nighttime sleep!
  • Optional:  After one of your afternoon nursings or bottle feedings, you can offer a second small meal of solid foods.
  • Total number of solid meals in a day: 1-2
  • Total amount of solid food your baby will eat in a day: 3-7 tablespoons

Feeding Schedule Recommendations: 7-8 months

7-8 month old babies are more accustomed to solid foods and can therefore handle larger amounts of foods.  You can also begin to increase the number of meals a day to 2-3.  Continue offering your baby plenty of breastmilk and/or formula, however; that’s still her primary source of nutrition.  And you should continue to try and nurse or bottlefeed your baby before you offer her a meal of solids (although that’s a little less essential now than it was a few months ago).

Use the recommendations below to create a daily feeding schedule for your 7-8 month old baby:

  • Continue to nurse and/or bottle feed throughout the day (see our Amounts of Solid Foods By Age chart for recommended amounts of breastmilk and formula.)
  • After the first or second nursing or bottle feeding of the morning, offer your baby a solids meal (see our Types of Solid Foods By Age to determine what you can feed your baby.)
  • After a late morning/early afternoon nursing or bottle feeding, offer your baby a second small meal of solids.
  • Optional:  After a late afternoon/early evening nursing or bottle feeding, offer your baby a third small meal of solids.
  • Total number of solid meals in a day: 2-3
  • Total amount of solid food your baby will eat in a day: 10-26 tablespoons (1/2 cup – 1 1/2 cups), plus 1 serving of dairy

Feeding Schedule Recommendations: 9-12 months

9-12 month old babies are solid food pros, and they’re definitely ready to handle 3 meals of solid foods each day.  Continue offering your baby breastmilk and/or formula (although he’ll start to need a bit less, now that he’s eating more solid food).  You can also offer your baby small amounts of water or juice.  It’s no longer necessary to nurse or bottlefeed your baby before you serve him a meal of solids, although you can certainly continue doing that if you prefer.

Use the recommendations below to create a daily feeding schedule for your 9-12 month old baby:

  • Continue to nurse and/or bottle feed throughout the day (see our Amounts of Solid Foods By Age chart for recommended amounts of breastmilk and formula.)
  • Before or after the first or second nursing or bottle feeding of the morning, offer your baby a solids meal (see our Types of Solid Foods By Age to determine what you can feed your baby.)
  • Before or after a late morning/early afternoon nursing or bottle feeding, offer your baby a second small meal of solids.
  • Before or after a late afternoon/early evening nursing or bottle feeding, offer your baby a third small meal of solids.
  • Total number of solid meals in a day: 3
  • Total amount of solid food your baby will eat in a day: 16-30 tablespoons (1 cup – 2 cups), plus 1-2 servings of other grains and 1 serving of dairy

For more help in creating a daily feeding schedule for your baby, check out these sample baby sleep and feeding schedules.

Everything You Need To Know About Starting Solids – All In One e-Book!

thumbnailWhat if you could find everything you needed to know about starting your baby on solid foods – when it’s best to start solids, how to introduce solids, complications, food allergies, etc. – in one easy-reference guide? Now you can! Your Baby’s Start To Solid Foods: A Comprehensive Guide will walk you through every step of starting solids. Plus, your e-Book package includes several bonus materials, designed to maximize your success in starting solids. You’ll get a thorough guide to treating constipation, a dietitian’s advice on how to avoid 5 common solid-foods mistakes, and a weekly mean plan for your baby’s first year. Grab your e-Book today, and ensure your baby has the healthiest possible start to solid foods!

What’s your baby’s daily feeding schedule?  Help out our other readers; share your sample schedules below!

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How To Cook Your Baby’s Fruits and Vegetables

When it comes to fruits and vegetables, it’s best to eat them fresh and raw. But raw isn’t really an option for babies, who aren’t yet ready to handle the crunch of some fresh fruits and veggies. You’ll have to cook fruits and vegetables in order to turn them into the smoother purees that your baby can eat.

Use the guide below to determine the best cooking technique for each type of fruit or vegetable you’ll prepare for your baby:

Baking

Baking allows fruits and vegetables to retain a high percentage of their vital nutrients, so it’s a healthy cooking choice. What’s more, baking doesn’t require you to stand nearby and “babysit” your food, the way some of the methods below do! It was always my favorite for that reason; I loved being able to stick a few sweet potatoes in the oven and then walk away for an hour and a half. 🙂 Keep in mind, though, that baking does take longer than some of the other methods mentioned here, so it won’t work if you’re in a big hurry.

When baking, plan on setting your oven temperature anywhere between 350 and 400 degrees. The time it’ll take depends on what you’re baking, of course — apples will need 30-40 minutes to get soft and tender, while potatoes (especially large ones) can take over an hour! The general rule is to check your food from time to time; when it’s tender enough to be mashed, it’s ready to come out of the oven.

Baking can be a good cooking choice for:

  • potatoes (white and sweet)
  • squash
  • apples
  • stone fruits (peaches, plums, nectarines)

Roasting

Roasting is a faster oven method than baking, which can make it a more convenient choice. And a bonus — roasting vegetables brings out their natural sweetness, making them tastier for babies. Woot! Anything to get your little one happily eating more veggies, right?

There are essentially two types of roasting you can use: slow roasting or fast roasting. During slow roasting, your oven is set to a lower temperature (like 325 degrees), and food is roasted for an hour or more. Fast roasting requires higher oven temperatures (anywhere from 400 – 500 degrees), but requires only 10 or 15 minutes of cooking time.

Remember that slow roasting usually produces very tender, thoroughly cooked vegetables, while fast roasting leaves the veggies with a bit of crunch. So fast roasting techniques might be a better option when you’re baby’s old enough to tolerate some “bite” to his veggies.

Slow roasting is a good choice for root vegetables (like carrots); fast roasting is good choice for:

  • asparagus
  • peppers
  • beets
  • cauliflower

Boiling

Boiling is probably the fastest cooking method for most kinds of fruits and vegetables, and it doesn’t require any special tools — if you have a sauce pan with a lid, you can boil your fruits and veggies!

However, boiling isn’t an ideal cooking method — it causes fruits and veggies to lose a high percentage of their vital nutrients. If you do boil your fruits and veggies when making homemade veggie purees, reserve the cooking water; you can pour a bit of it back in to thin your purees.

To boil your baby’s fruits or vegetables, simply bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and then add your cut-up produce. Plan on standing nearby while the boiling is happening; you’ll want to frequently dip out a piece of whatever you’re boiling and check for tenderness. As soon as your produce is fork tender (meaning you can easily spear it with a fork), it’s done.

Boiling can be used for virtually all types of vegetables (green beans, peas, broccoli, potatoes, squash, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, corn) and fruits (pears, peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, apples.)

Steaming

Steaming is a far better choice than boiling when it comes to cooking fruits and vegetables for baby. While it can take a bit longer, and while it does require one or two special tools (like a steamer basket), steaming softens fruits and vegetables enough to puree while still allowing the fruits and vegetables to retain a high percentage of their vital nutrients. We recommend steaming over boiling whenever possible.

Steaming vegetables requires the same preparations as boiling — fill a pot with water, place the steamer insert filled with sliced produce over the top, and then bring the water to a strong simmer or boil. Cover the pot and allow the veggies in the steamer insert to steam gently. Again, you’ll want to check your produce periodically for doneness. As soon as you can stick one of those bad boys with a fork, you’re good to go!

Steaming can be used for the same types of vegetables and fruits listed above, in the “Boiling” section. In fact, steaming is a better option for fruits that tend to be naturally softer (like peaches, pears, nectarines, etc.) Do note, however, that steaming isn’t a good choice for very hard vegetables, like potatoes and squash. Baking or roasting is a better choice for those.

You probably already have most of the kitchen tools you’ll need to cook your baby’s fruits and vegetables, but there are a few products you may not have that you’ll find yourself wanting. See our recommended products page for a detailed list of tools that’ll make baby food preparation a snap.

Everything You Need To Know About Starting Solids – All In One e-Book!

thumbnailWhat if you could find everything you needed to know about starting your baby on solid foods – when it’s best to start solids, how to introduce solids, complications, food allergies, etc. – in one easy-reference guide? Now you can! Your Baby’s Start To Solid Foods: A Comprehensive Guide will walk you through every step of starting solids. Plus, your e-Book package includes several bonus materials, designed to maximize your success in starting solids. You’ll get a thorough guide to treating constipation, a dietitian’s advice on how to avoid 5 common solid-foods mistakes, and a weekly mean plan for your baby’s first year. Grab your e-Book today, and ensure your baby has the healthiest possible start to solid foods!

How do you cook your baby’s fruits and vegetables? Share your tips below!

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