Monday, October 10, 2011

Rice Cereal

It occurred to me that I skipped the most traditional baby food known to mommies nation-wide: rice cereal!  Of course, I probably did this because I didn't actually make the cereal for my son.  But then I remembered how confused I was when I started Bunkey on cereal, how many times I called my own mama with questions, how much internet research I did, and how many times I studied the many varieties available on my grocery's shelves.  So I thought I might as well share what I learned and what worked for us...

I started Bunkey on the Gerber Rice Cereal, and found a lot of great information on Gerber's website!  Between the Gerber site, a few baby books, and my doctor, I learned that rice cereal is a great (but certainly not necessarily the only) place to start because it gets Baby used to the spoon, is easy to mix with formula or breastmilk, easy to digest, and unlikely to cause a reaction.  After successful introduction to rice cereal, it's ok to try other single-grain cereals (Gerber has oatmeal and barley varieties, although I have not tried either).  After those single-grain cereals have been accepted, mixed grain cereals are also ok.  I did learn that wheat cereals can cause intolerance if offered prior to eight months.  Of course, I encourage you to discuss your baby's diet with your pediatrician in order to find what would be most beneficial to your child!  Also, keep in mind that breastmilk is more easily digested than formula.  If your baby has been exclusively breastfed up to this point, he might be more prone to constipation once you begin introducing solids.  Of course, formula-fed babies may also become constipated just from the new textures and foods...  Just something to watch for!  My doctor approved the addition of one or two tablespoons of 100% prune juice to be added to a bottle to aid with bowel issues when Bunkey was a month old, so I keep that on hand just in case we need it!

I started cereal the Monday following Bunkey's three-month "birthday", which in reality was only one extra day.  For the first feeding, I followed the directions on the box and mixed one tablespoon cereal with five tablespoons prepared formula.  Ummm....that is a lot of food for a baby who is just learning how to deal with a spoon!  The point is that you want the food to be really runny, so it basically has the same consistency as milk.  But you get the point of the ratio...five parts milk/formula to every one part cereal!  Bunkey did well and quickly caught on to opening his little mouth for the spoon.  I had him in a Bumbo seat on the kitchen counter so I would have both hands available.  And I chased the spoon with the bottle to help him learn how to swallow.

I should also mention that I gave cereal with the first bottle of the day.  For many reasons...  So I could watch all day for an allergic reaction.  So he'd be most hungry.  So he'd still be in pj's and if he made a mess I could limit the number of outfit changes.  Because it's the calmest part of our day.  You get the idea.  First thing in the morning worked best for us!

The next day, I was wise to the volume of cereal Bunkey would actually eat.  So, keeping the five-to-one ratio in mind, I mixed a half-teaspoon cereal to two and a half teaspoons formula. We continued this for a total of three days.  On Day 4, I began thickening the mixture, eventually arriving at a two-to-one ratio (and now using tablespoons rather than teaspoons).  On day 10, I added another serving of cereal to the last bottle of the day.  I continued this pattern throughout the entire month, and beginning with Bunkey's four-month "birthday" I offer cereal only with the first bottle, maintaining the two-to-one ratio, and offering pureed foods with the second and fourth (final) bottle of the day.

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