Tag Archives: feeding baby solid food

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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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8 Most Common Baby First Foods

When it comes to starting your baby on solids, a question parents ask themselves (aside from how and when to start) is, “What foods should I start with?” After all, your baby hasn’t tasted anything but breastmilk or formula up to this point; whatever foods you offer first are going to have a big impact!

There are a few rules when it comes to what foods you should feed your baby first. Avoid any allergenic foods (like milk, eggs, tomatoes, nut butters, etc.) Think about textures, too; whatever foods you start your baby on should be smooth, runny, and pretty lump-free. So raw carrots are out. 😉 And you’ll want to start with foods that are easy for your baby to digest. Avoid things that’ll cause gas (like broccoli) or that are highly acidic (like tomatoes and strawberries).

Below, we’ve compiled a list of the 8 most common “first foods” for baby, along with a few words about each. This list is in no particular order. What’s more, this list isn’t meant to be a rigid, inflexible guide; you don’t have to start with these foods! Simply use this list as a guide to help you create the “menus” for your baby’s first few weeks of  meals.

  1. Rice Cereal

    This is the #1 most common first food for babies, for a few reasons.  It’s bland, so babies usually don’t reject it based on its taste.  Its texture makes it easy for babies to swallow.  And it’s easy to digest, making it a good first option.

  2. Oatmeal Cereal

    Once babies have mastered rice cereal, many parents move on to oatmeal.  Like rice cereal, oatmeal is fairly bland and smooth.

  3. Applesauce

    Applesauce is smooth and easy to swallow, making it a good first food.  And since babies tend to prefer sweet flavors, it’s usually a baby favorite 🙂  Plus, it’s easy to find sugar-free applesauce at the supermarket, making it an inexpensive choice.

  4. Bananas

    Many parents love the convenience of serving mashed bananas — they’re easy to mash, and since they’re already soft and don’t need cooking, they provide a great way to feed your little one fresh fruit.  What’s more, bananas are easy for tiny tummies to digest.

  5. Avocados

    Avocados are great first foods for many of the same reasons as bananas — they’re easy to mash, they’re soft and easy to eat when they’re fresh, and they’re highly digestible.  And you can feel good knowing that each time you feed your baby avocados, you’re offering her heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

  6. Pears

    Pears are fiber-rich and delicious; they can also help relieve constipation and reflux.

  7. Sweet Potato

    Sweet Potatoes are a fantastic first food for baby.  They’re packed with vitamins and minerals, they’re easy to digest, and babies usually love their naturally sweet flavor.

  8. Squash

    Winter squash, like butternut and acorn squash, is delicious and nutritious.  And squashes tend to produce smooth, runny purees — all the more reason to make it one of the first foods you offer to your baby!

Of course, you can buy commercial, prepared versions of all the food above; you certainly don’t have to make your own baby food.  But if you decide you want to try making your baby’s food yourself, check our our recipes for homemade cereal, homemade fruit purees, and homemade veggie purees.

You may also want to check our our Types and Amounts of Solid Foods By Age charts, for more information on what first foods are best for your baby.

What foods did you introduce to your baby first?  Share your list of first foods below!

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How To Introduce Solid Foods To Your Baby

So you now know when to start your baby on solid foods, and you may have decided that the time is now — your baby’s ready!  Now, it’s time to feed your little one solids for the first time.  But that can be easier said than done.  How should you introduce solids?  What foods should you begin with?  Cereal?  Fruits and Veggies?  Help!

Introducing Solids:  What Should Be Your Baby’s First Foods?

When it comes to introducing solids, infant cereals (particularly rice cereal) are traditionally recommended as the best first foods for baby.  These make great starting foods because their texture is soft and smooth, and their taste is fairly bland.  They can also be mixed with formula or breastmilk, making their flavor familiar to baby and making the transition to solids even easier.  Finally, infant cereals are unlikely to cause an allergic reaction, and they’re fortified with iron (something babies start needing more of around 6 months of age).

However, research has shown that cereal is not always the best starting food for babies.  Today, some health experts recommend starting with fruits and vegetables (pureed, of course), or substituting whole grain oatmeal for powdered infant cereal. They suggest that bananas, avocado, or sweet potatoes are excellent first foods, since they’re sweet (like breastmilk) and easy to mash.

In general, it’s best to delay the introduction of allergy-causing foods (see below) and start with foods that are considered safe for your 4-6 month old baby (like the ones listed above). Of course, all babies are different and we’ve heard of babies being allergic to even banana. This is rare, but you will want to take it slow with any new foods (see “4 day rule” below)!

Introducing Solids:  What About Food Allergies and Eczema?

Food allergies can make any mom worry, but you may be particularly concerned if you have a family history of food allergies or of eczema (a skin condition that can be an indicator of food allergies.)  If that’s the case, you will want to be even more careful about watching for allergic reactions in your baby or how you introduce new foods to your baby.

Regardless of whether or not your family has as history of food allergies, it’s recommended that you introduce individual foods one at a time.  In other words, don’t mix peas and carrots together if both are brand new foods for your baby.  Offer them separately.  What’s more, you should follow the “4 Day Rule”:  wait about 4 days in between introducing a new food to your baby. That will give you time to see if an allergic reaction develops, and it’ll help you better determine which food is responsible for the reaction.  And if food allergies run in your family, be especially careful to introduce foods this way. You don’t have to delay introducing any foods – the old “rule” to introduce typically allergenic foods like peanuts and shellfish after 12 months of age no longer applies. However, if you are introducing an allergenic food – especially if a history of such allergies runs in your family – observe your baby closely after offering that particular food.

Food Sensitivities/Intolerances vs. Food Allergies

Keep in mind, too, that while your baby may not develop a true food allergy, he may have some food sensitivities or food intolerances.  Food sensitivities and intolerances are more common than true food allergies.  For instance, true milk allergies aren’t that common, but milk sensitivities and intolerances are.

In addition, The symptoms of food sensitivities and intolerances are usually less severe than true food allergies.  For example, after eating a new food, you might notice that your baby has a night of poor or restless sleep.  Or you might notice that he seems gassy after eating something new.  These can be signs of a food intolerance.

For more information about food intolerances/sensitivities, and how they’re different from true food allergies, check out this article on mayoclinic.com.

Introducing Solids:  Should I Still Breastfeed/Bottle Feed?

Oh, yes!  The fact that your baby is eating solids now doesn’t mean you should cut out (or even cut back on) breastmilk or formula.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that breastmilk or formula be your baby’s primary source of nutrition for the first year.  Therefore, your goal in introducing your baby to solids isn’t to provide her with nutrition that she’s not getting from breastmilk or formula.  Breastmilk and formula still give her all the nutrition she needs.  Rather, you’re introducing solids in order to give her some practice at eating (and eventually feeding herself) solid foods.  To be sure that your baby’s getting enough breastmilk or formula, check out our Amounts of Solid Foods by Age chart; it includes recommended daily amounts.

Keep this in mind as you start feeding your baby solids; if you notice that he’s eating more and drinking less than his required daily amount, reduce the amount of solid food you offer and try to increase his nursing or bottle feeding to ensure that he’s getting enough breastmilk or formula.  Solid food will fill him up (and those extra calories will be necessary as he gets bigger), but it won’t offer the same nutrition as breastmilk or formula.

Introducing Solids:  Slow and Steady is the Way to Go!

A final word about how to introduce solids:  make “slow and steady” your mantra as you introduce your baby to this new way of eating.  Remember, this is a big change for your baby — her eating now involves new tastes, new textures, and new skills on her part (like chewing!)  As with anything new, your baby’s going to need some practice with eating solid food before she gets “good” at it.

So be prepared to be patient.  In the beginning, meals will likely be long and messy.  You may wonder if your baby’s gotten any food in his belly after you see how much he’s managed to smear in his hair and on his face! That’s the fun part! 🙂 Or, you may find that it takes 45 minutes to get finish a few tablespoons of cereal.  But that’s okay!  It’s all part of the learning process.  Slowly, steadily, your baby will figure it out, and eating will be more fun and less work!

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 did you introduce your baby to solids? Share your tips!

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