Infant Cereal: Timing Is Everything

by Roberta Duyff, MS RDN FAND

Infant Cereal: Timing Is Everything

Your baby's first solid food should be a source of iron, such as iron-fortified infant cereal, which is often the most convenient iron source. With cereals, opt for ones developed for babies. They digest easier than varieties for older children and adults. Iron-fortified infant cereals help babies maintain their iron stores.

  • Although there's no strict order, you might start with rice cereal. It's often best as the first cereal because it's least likely to cause allergic reactions. Hold off on wheat cereal until after your baby's first birthday. Some infants are sensitive to wheat before one year of age.

  • When it comes to your baby's first cereal feedings, keep the cereal mixture thin. Start with just one part cereal to four parts of breast milk or infant formula. Once your baby develops eating skills—and a taste for cereal-mix in less liquid so its thicker. Don't mix in honey or corn syrup, which may contain small amounts of bacteria (Clostridium botulinum) spores that can be harmful to infants.

  • Be prepared if your baby refuses cereal at first. Try again in a few days. Infant cereal tastes different from the familiar breast milk or formula. The texture is different, too—not to mention the difference between a nipple and a spoon!

  • Once your baby starts eating more cereal, he or she will take less breast milk or infant formula. Breast milk or iron-fortified formula still should be the mainstay of the diet during the first year.
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About the author:

Roberta L Duyff MS RDN FAND

Roberta Duyff, MS RDN FAND

Author of "Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, Fourth Edition" and "365 Days of Healthy Eating from the American Dietetic Association" (both published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New Jersey).




  • Cook healthy

    Involve your child in the cutting, mixing and preparation of all meals. Even a snack can be healthy.

  • Eat right

    Sit down together as a family to enjoy a wonderful meal and the opportunity to share the day's experiences with one another.

  • Shop smart

    To encourage a healthy lifestyle, get your children involved in selecting the food that will appear at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table.

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