Yes! Babies can digest starch, and as such, there is no harm in feeding your baby infant cereal. The enzyme amylase is needed for starch digestion, and while babies make very little pancreatic amylase, they produce a good amount of other types of amylase, such as salivary and glucoamylase, which help break down starch into glucose. Introduce complementary foods, including infant cereal, when your baby is developmentally ready, beginning at 6 months.
Iron-fortified rice cereal is a common first food in infants. However, infant rice cereal is a leading source of arsenic exposure in infants. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued draft guidance to the industry of infant rice cereal to not exceed inorganic arsenic levels of 100 parts per billion (ppb). The FDA recognizes that iron fortified rice cereal is a good source of iron, but it shouldn’t be the only source, and it doesn’t have to be the first source. Offer other fortified infant cereals, such as oat, barley and multigrain, too.
According to the Academy of Pediatrics and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a vegetarian or vegan diet can meet the needs of your growing infant, but careful attention needs to be paid to specific nutrients, including protein, vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, iron and zinc. Parents should meet with a Registered Dietitian to avoid any nutritional deficiencies.
Putting infant cereal in your baby’s bottle will not make him or her sleep longer and could increase your baby’s risk of choking.
You do not need to give foods in any certain order. There is no evidence that introducing vegetables before fruit makes any difference in the child’s preference. By 7 to 8 months of age, your baby should be eating a variety of foods from all the food groups.
Introduce one new food at a time and wait 3-5 days before introducing a different new food. By doing so, you will be able to see how your baby reacts to a particular food.
For the first 6 months of life, until your baby starts complementary foods, water is not necessary; breast milk or formula provide all the water your baby needs. Once you introduce complementary foods, your baby may have small amounts of water through a bottle, advancing to a cup. Consult your child’s pediatrician to determine how much and how often it should be given. It should not interfere with what you give in breast milk or formula, which provides vital nutrients.
Yes. Reheat refrigerated or frozen homemade baby food to at least 165°F before feeding it to your baby. However, you do not need to heat commercial baby food upon opening.
Fish is a good source of protein, and it contains omega-3 fatty acids, which is necessary for normal growth and development. However, there is concern about the possibility of the fish having contaminants, such as methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, and dioxins. These could pose health risks if fish are eaten in large amounts. Talk to your child’s pediatrician to discuss the type of fish and the amounts to feed your baby, and visit the United States Environmental Protection Agency for advice on eating fish and shellfish.
Certain vegetables, including beets, carrots, turnips, spinach and collard greens, are naturally high in nitrates. Contaminated drinking water may also be a source of nitrates. A diet high in nitrates can cause serious health effects in young infants, including methemoglobinemia or “blue baby syndrome.” Infants up to 6 months of age are at the highest risk of harm from exposure. It is not recommended to feed your baby complementary foods before 6 months of age. However, if you start complementary foods before your baby is 6 months old, do not feed him/her homemade baby foods high in nitrates. Commercially prepared baby food contains only trace amounts of nitrates and are not considered a risk to your infant.
If your baby is on formula that you dilute with water, you will need to consider your water source. Municipal water sources are required to be tested for nitrates and nitrites. Other water sources, including a private well, may need to be tested for contamination. Your local or state health department can give more information on private well water testing.
Castle, J. & Jacobsen, M. (2013). Fearless Feeding: how to raise healthy eaters from high chair to high school.
USDA Food and Nutrition Service. (April 2019). Infant Nutrition and Feeding. Fish: the benefits and concerns. pg. 127. Retrieved from https://wicworks.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/document/Infant_Feeding_Guide_Final_508c_0.pdf