Babies have been eating cereals as one of their first foods for the last 100 years or so. Generally, starting at 6 months of age, infant cereals are often introduced as one of the first solid foods in a baby’s diet. There are several benefits to this practice.
One concern among parents and pediatricians alike is the possible decrease in Iron that can happen in infants as they pass the 6 month mark. Iron fortified infant cereals were first introduced in the United States as a way to combat anemia in infants between the ages of 6 months and two years. Rice and other cereals, along with meat and iron containing vegetables, are good first foods to insure your baby does not develop anemia.
Vitamins and Minerals
Cereals are fortified with vitamins and minerals that are important to a baby’s health and development. Though cereals should not be considered a replacement for formula or other healthy foods, they can be a good way to sneak some added nutrition into your baby’s diet.
Most babies tolerate infant cereals well. The smooth and creamy texture is pleasant and generally well accepted as a first food. If you have a baby who is more sensitive to textures, cereals may be a way to ease them into eating solid foods.
One of the bigger concerns about starting a baby on solid foods is the possibility of food allergies. Rice is considered to be one of the foods least likely to cause an allergic reaction. Infant rice cereals tend to be a safe choice if you are concerned with possible allergies.
Infant cereals also have the added benefit of being a convenient and easily prepared food. Many of the cereals we have on MyOrganicFormula.com contain a built in formula. All you need do is add water. This can be especially helpful during busy times of the day, and before bed.
A Note on Avoiding Allergies
Though infant cereals are well tolerated, caution is still advised. Baby’s guts are porous in their younger months, and do not close until 6 months or later. Because of this, even something as benign as rice cereal can cause immune disruptions if introduced too early. This can result in auto-immune conditions and allergies at a later stage in your baby’s life. It is best to wait to introduce solid foods until your baby is 6 months or older.
When you do begin to introduce solid foods, introduce them one at a time. This includes cereals. Mixed grain cereals should not be introduced until you are sure that your baby is not allergic to the individual grains they contain. Introduce grains one at a time, just as you would any other food, so that you can insure your baby is not having an adverse reaction. Avoid introducing wheat or gluten containing cereals until your baby is a year or later, as more and more people are developing allergies to wheat and gluten. An older baby is less likely to develop a sensitivity when their guts are fully developed and more ready for solid foods. For more information see our articles on introducing solids and food allergies.
Whatever you decide to give your baby as a first food, it should be healthy and organic. In an effort to provide you with the very best organic products, check out the range of infant cereals we offer here at My Organic Formula.