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Ages & Stages

While the habit of adding cereal to an infant’s bottle is one that has been around for a long time, there are several compelling reasons why you really shouldn’t do it unless advised by your pediatrician.

  • Ready or Not. A baby’s digestive system is not thought to be well prepared to process cereal until about 4 to 6 months of age. When he is old enough to digest cereal, he should also be ready to eat it from a spoon.
  • Too Hard to Handle. Offering cereal in a bottle (or even on a spoon) before babies are developmentally ready can increase the likelihood of gagging and/or inhaling the thickened mixture into their lungs. Unless there’s a medical reason for giving it early, it’s not worth jumping the gun.
  • Allergy Activation. Exposure to solid foods before the age of 4 months may put babies at risk for developing food allergies in the future—a risk that can be minimized by simply waiting until 4 to 6 months when the time is right.
  • Overfeeding. Perhaps the biggest reason not to take the addition of cereal in a bottle too lightly relates to overfeeding. By instinct, your baby knows how much breast milk or formula to drink based on volume, not calories. While it is said to be difficult to overfeed a baby, this applies when you’re talking about breast milk or formula alone. As soon as cereal gets added in, things get a little murky—so murky, in fact, that putting cereal in the bottle is considered by some to be a form of force-feeding that can cause babies to “overdose” on calories.

 

Author
Laura A. Jana, MD, FAAP and Jennifer Shu, MD, FAAP
Last Updated
2/28/2014
Source
Food Fights, 2nd Edition (Copyright © 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.