Introducing Solids: Signs Your Baby is Ready For Rice Cereal
Transitioning your baby to solid foods can be very exciting! But after months of strictly breast or formula feeding your little one, how do you start? How do you know if your baby is ready? What should be the first food that your baby tries? What preparations are needed to feed your baby their first meal?
This article will provide useful information to help you answer each of these questions and set your little one on the path to healthy eating right from the start! Remember that it is always important to check with your baby’s doctor prior to introducing solid foods if you have any questions or concerns.
Is Your Baby Ready for Solid Food?
Babies receive all the nutrition they need from breast milk or formula until they are 6 months old, at which point they will also need vitamins and minerals from solid food for healthy growth. However, breast milk or formula should still continue to make up the majority of your baby’s diet until they are one year old.
Introducing solid foods too early, or too late, have both been linked with potential problems. For instance, providing solid foods prior to 4 months has been associated with childhood obesity, diabetes, and allergies, whereas babies who are introduced too late (e.g., 7 months or later) may have troubles learning to chew and swallow, or may develop taste aversions.
As your baby nears 6 months, watch for these signs they may be ready for solid food:
- Your baby is showing a consistent pattern of still being hungry after a regular feeding of breast milk or formula.
- Your baby may be demanding feedings more often.
- Your baby may be waking up hungry more frequently at night.
- Your baby shows interest in your food when you are eating.
- Your baby is able to sit comfortably when supported/with assistance (e.g., in a high chair with a tray).
- Your baby is able to turn their head away to refuse food if they are no longer hungry (never force your baby to eat).
- Your baby is capable of swallowing small tastes of soft food, instead of reflexively pushing it out of their mouth with their tongue.
- Your baby has doubled their birth weight.
- Your baby weighs at least 12 pounds.
Does this sound like your baby? If so, it’s likely that your little one is ready to be introduced to solids!
Rice Cereal: A Great First Food For Babies
One of the most common first food choices for babies is cereal, which will quickly become a staple in your baby’s new diet. Specifically, rice cereal is considered the ideal first food because it is healthy and safe (although a number of fruits and veggies are also considered perfectly healthy and safe first foods as well).
Rice cereal is nutritious, full of energy, and of relatively low risk for allergic reaction in comparison to cereals made from other grains (particularly wheat, a common allergen usually recommended only once baby is one year old; barley and oat are considered good starters after trying rice, and only once baby is at least 6 months given they contain gluten).
Prepared with breast milk or formula, the familiar taste of rice cereal makes an easy transition to solid foods that your baby is more likely to embrace. And once your baby is ready, it is also great for mixing with fruit and vegetable purees for new tastes and added nutrition!
Useful Links: Baby Health, Feeding, & Nutrition
What Do You Need For Your Baby's First Meal?
Are you all set for your baby's very first meal? Check to make sure you have the following on hand, and you will be ready to go!
- Baby's first meal, properly prepared and not too hot (ideally, rice cereal).
- Highchair with tray or other safe, comfortable place for baby to sit.
- Baby bowl (non-breakable).
- Soft spoons (baby spoons with long handles are easy for feeding; your baby may like to hold one too, and it will keep them from grabbing yours!).
- Bib (or two).
- Baby wipes or moist washcloth (trust me).
- Floor mat (trust me).
- Camera charged and ready to go!
Remember that it is not safe to keep any leftovers that have been in contact with baby's spoon for a later time. As bacteria can transfer from your baby's mouth to the spoon and into the bowl, leftovers always need to be discarded.
You're All Ready!
It’s time to make or buy your baby some healthy rice cereal! Enjoy this new adventure with your little one, and don’t forget to capture that very first taste of solid food on camera! (And remember, always wait 3-4 days after introducing a new food before introducing another, so you can identify the cause of any allergic reactions). Good luck and have fun!