4 month old baby

Now that your baby is 4 months old and you have started adapting to diaper changes, cries and sleepless night routine, perhaps it’s time to start introducing solid foods to your baby’s diet.

The thing to always remember is that every baby is different. Some will handle cereals at four months better than others. 

Although it is recommended that you start introducing solids at 6 months, it’s okay to introduce cereals at four months if your baby is up to it.

How much cereal you should give them per day varies from baby to baby. Start with one to two small baby spoons a day and increase as they adjust to the new routine.

Babies handle the introduction of cereals differently

There’s a lot of discussion about whether one should introduce solids to their baby at four months.

There are those who won’t touch solids, even at six months. Others have tried to introduce the cereal, but their babies rejected it, and yet others passed this four-month milestone with flying colors.

Whatever your experience, it’s important to remember that babies are different. Some will handle cereals better than others. Do what is right for your baby.

Mixing cereal for your four-month-old baby

feeding the baby

Just before introducing your baby to their first cereal meal, you may be a little apprehensive. That’s understandable.

This is the first time your baby is eating a solid meal. To get everything right, follow the steps below:

  • Get 4 teaspoons of formula or breast milk and mix it with a teaspoon of rice cereal.

  • Sit your baby upright after the usual milk feeding. Next, slowly offer the baby the mixture, watching closely how they react. Do this one or two times a day.

  • If your baby swallows the mixture easily, next time use less liquid and systematically continue increasing the feeding amounts.

  • You can also introduce oatmeal or barley, but do it one at a time. Always wait a couple of days before trying a new menu on your baby.

  • Remember to always spoon-feed. Don’t feed cereal to your baby using a bottle, and make sure you have the bibs nearby. You will definitely need them.

  • Keep feeding your baby the usual liquids, at least up to 32 ounces of breast milk or formula every day.

Issues about the health and safety of rice cereal

rice cereal in a bowl

Some people have questioned the safety of rice cereal for babies. Every mother wants only the best for their child.

You want to be sure that what you are feeding your baby is safe and healthy.

According to a couple of reports, after testing rice, it was found to contain higher than the normal amounts of arsenic.

Nonetheless, companies that offer baby cereals contend that the arsenic levels found in their products fall within the recommended FDA guidelines.

In any case, most foods contain arsenic. Crops absorb it from the soil via their roots.

Rice tends to draw in marginally more quantities than other crops since it is grown in water.

To minimize your baby’s exposure to more than the recommended levels of arsenic, feed them grain cereals that are fortified with iron.

When is your baby ready to eat cereal?

This question is at the top of most mothers’ minds. It’s a legitimate question, since the introduction of solid foods to a child is a huge milestone.

Although pediatricians recommend you only feed your baby exclusively breast milk for up to six months after birth, you can supplement with milk formulas as indicated.

Most babies are ready to eat solid foods at between four and six months. This should supplement breastfeeding and formulas.

At this stage of a baby’s life, they start to forget the annoying habit of pushing food out of their mouths instead of swallowing it.

By now, they can move solids to the back of their mouth and swallow, a huge milestone in a baby’s life. It’s practically the stage when babies learn to eat.

Another sign besides age that indicates your baby is ready to eat solid foods is when they can hold their heads in a steady, upright position, appear to show interest in seeing you eat, or sit up with support.

Should one stop breastfeeding or using formulas just because their baby can eat solid foods at 4 months?

breastfeeding

The quick answer to this question is, “no”. After introducing your child to solid foods, keep on feeding them with breast milk or formulas.

The WHO recommends that mothers should exclusively breastfeed for six months before introducing solid foods.

After this, you should continue breastfeeding for up to two years as your child continues eating solid foods. 

The introduction of solid foods at 4 or 6 months is just a critical milestone, but it does not mean the end of breastfeeding.

Continue breastfeeding your child for at least two years as long as you and your baby want to.

When to stop feeding your 4-month-old baby with cereal

As you introduce cereals to your baby’s diet, watch them closely. Your baby may simply not be interested in cereals at this time. Don’t push them.

If they cry or attempt to eject the food from their mouth, don’t insist. Besides, if after taking one or two spoonfuls of cereal they are no longer interested, don’t force more food on them.

As much as you want them to finish that meal you prepared with so much love, remember that your baby is eating solid foods for the first time.

As they get older, they will begin to eat more, in which case you can gradually increase their portions. Nevertheless, solid foods should not be a substitute for breast milk.

The latter is still your baby’s primary source of nutrition at this stage of their life and for the next several months.

Can one use iron-fortified cereals?

happy baby

A mother's breast milk doesn't contain all the iron content your baby needs. The iron in your breast milk gets quickly absorbed by the baby.

On the other hand, the fortified iron in cereals is not easily absorbed by the baby's body.

Iron is critical for the development of your baby's brain. At 4 to 6 months, two servings a day of fortified rice cereal is all they need to meet their daily iron requirements.

To aid iron absorption, consider adding vitamin C, or giving them iron supplements in drop form. 

Another thing! As you take care of the baby, remember also to take care of yourself. Your baby feeds off of you during those breastfeeding months.

They will take as much iron as they can from you, and there’s a chance your iron reserves could be rapidly depleted. So, make sure you have enough for both of you by supplementing with iron and eating iron-dense foods.

Conclusion

A 4-year-old baby should consume at least 1 to 2 spoonfuls of cereal every day.

While the WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months after birth, there’s no harm in introducing solid cereals a couple of months earlier.

However, as you introduce cereals, watch for cues from your baby. If they keep pushing the food out of their mouth, this is a sign they are not ready.

You should also reconsider continuing to give them solid foods such as cereals if they are constantly constipated, and if you can trace this to the time you introduced solid foods to their diet.

The critical thing is to continue to breastfeed your baby even after introducing solid foods into their diets. Use iron-fortified cereals to supplement those from your breast milk, and consider adding vitamin C to help with the absorption of the iron.