Preparing Infant Cereal

Infant cereal will probably be your baby’s first baby food. It is a versatile choice because it can be prepared in many different ways to change the texture, thickness, and taste as your baby progresses through new solid foods. From first feedings through the second year of life, you can prepare baby cereals to meet your baby’s changing needs and preferences.

Preparing the First Feeding

When you mix up your baby’s first feeding of infant cereal, you are setting off on a feeding adventure that will continue for years to come. The first feeding is important and exciting, but remember that your baby isn’t ready for much just yet. To avoid waste, make only a small amount of cereal. Your baby probably won’t consume much.

Infant cereal can be prepared using either breast milk, formula, or water. It’s best to stick to breast milk or formula for several reasons. First of all, they offer more nutrition than water. Secondly, they will infuse the cereal with a smell and taste that is familiar to your baby, making it more likely she will be interested in eating it. Because breast milk contains enzymes that break down the cereal, you will notice that it causes the cereal to become thinner and even soupier the longer it sits out. This is normal and won’t hurt the baby, but can make it harder to feed, so feed immediately after mixing.

Start with a rice cereal, as it is the easiest on your baby’s system. Slowly add breast milk or formula until the mixture becomes very thin and soupy. This might be difficult to get on a spoon, but your baby has only ever had liquids in her short life, so anything thicker will be difficult for her tongue to handle and she could choke. Although she is unlikely to be in and danger from the choking, it could make for an unpleasant experience she won’t want to repeat, which could lead to refusal of solids for a while.

Progressing to Thicker Cereal

As your baby gets better at moving food to the back of his mouth with his tongue and swallowing, you can start to thicken the cereal. Continue to use breast milk or formula to mix, but in a different ratio to make a gradually thicker version. During this time you will likely also be introducing baby to other foods such as pureed fruits and vegetables. Try to match the cereal’s thickness to that of the purees you are using.

As baby gets used to other foods, you can start mixing them with the cereal to add more flavor and change the texture. Add mashed bananas to infant cereal for a slightly chunkier texture. Each new texture your baby encounters will help him to learn more and progress to the next level.

Moving On From Rice

After you have tried rice cereal for a while with no problems, you can try other grains such as oatmeal and wheat cereals. Be sure to introduce them one at a time in order to judge what caused any potential reactions. Mix these cereals in the same manner as the rice cereal, using breast milk or formula to achieve the desired consistency.

All of these cereals can be mixed with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Although the idea of mixing pureed pees with oatmeal might seem odd to our grown-up palate, to a baby for whom all of these tastes and textures are new, it won’t seem so strange. Keep trying new combinations to make infant cereal new and interesting to baby.

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