When your baby is ready to start solids, rice cereal is gentle and easy to digest. But when can you add it to your baby's diet?
If you think your baby is ready to move ahead into solid foods, rice cereal is a great start. However, there are many opinions, old-wives-tales, and experiences that may confuse you when it comes to knowing when to introduce it. Some moms put it in their baby's bottle to help them sleep. Others use rice cereal to reduce symptoms of acid reflux. Other babies show signs that they are ready for solid foods. What is right for your baby?
Most rice cereal packages recommend that your baby is at least four months old before you offer it as part of their infant nutrition.
From a medical point of view, babies should not start on cereal before they turn six months old. For one reason, the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) strongly recommend that babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. At the same time, your baby's pediatrician is monitoring them for issues such as anemia or low-iron. They also understand that your baby may not be feeling full. The addition of rice cereal is one way to help them feel fuller longer.
Even if your baby is only a few months old and does not seem to be staying full long enough, you should not turn to cereal too soon. Newborns and infants before four to six months of age cannot handle the slow digestion of cereal. It can actually upset their stomachs and lead to constipation and excess gas.
Another medical concern has to do with allergies. If you try to introduce solids too soon, it can lead to auto-immune issues and allergies later in their life. Infant rice cereal is very easy on your baby's digestive system and is the least likely to contribute to an allergic reaction.
You should talk to your pediatrician about starting your baby on rice cereal. If there is a concern that you are trying to help with cereal, they can help with other solutions or just be able to monitor your baby's progress. Also, follow the instructions on the packaging. The first cereal that you introduce should be regular rice cereal, not a combination of other flavors and ingredients that they have not been exposed to yet.