Your guide to starting solid foods—ready for cereal

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  • Gerber Fortified Infant Cereals provides a blend of nutrients that growing babies need with a texture appropriate for their age.
  • Developmental milestones, such as head and neck control and smooth tongue movements, indicate it may be time to introduce cereal to your baby.
  • You should not start solids before four months of age unless directed by your baby’s doctor.
  • Gerber Fortified Infant Cereals are an important source of Iron, which needs to be replenished around the middle of the first year.
  • Begin feedings with breastmilk or infant formula before offering solid food.
  • Start with single-grain cereals first—typically rice followed by oatmeal—and look for sensitivities.

Congratulations on reaching this exciting milestone and have fun feeding your baby his first foods. Starting cereal is a new and exciting step in your baby’s eating development, but it often comes with many questions. You may be wondering why cereal is often recommended as the first solid baby food, how to know when your baby is ready, and how to really get started. The guidelines that follow will help you through this next phase of his big move to solid foods.

Big nutrition for tiny tummies
Fortified infant cereal provides big nutrition for tiny tummies. They are designed to provide essential nutrients in a small serving, perfect for a small tummy that can’t hold much food at one time.

When introducing solid baby foods to your baby, fortified infant cereals are easy to digest and perfect for first tastes of solid food, because you are mixing it with breastmilk or his formula. You can easily change the consistency by mixing it thinly, and then you can move to a thicker texture as your baby gets older. This will help you to keep pace with his developing eating skills when starting solids. Introducing a variety of flavors during this time is an important part of establishing lifelong healthy eating habits.

When to start introducing solids

Before 4 months of age, babies have yet to develop the skills needed to move solid foods around in their mouth and successfully swallow. At this age, he is not ready for anything but breastmilk or infant formula. When your little guy is at least 4 months old and has reached the milestones of a Supported Sitter, he may be ready for his first cereal experience!

Supported sitter milestone cues:
  • Pushes himself up with elbows straight while lying on his tummy.
  • Sits with very little help because he’s gained more control over his head and neck.
  • Turns his head to the left or right.
  • Moves his tongue backward and forward in a smooth rhythm when you put a small spoon to his lips. This allows him to draw food in and swallow it. If he’s pushing the spoon and food out, this is his body’s reflex telling you he may not be ready. Keep trying in a few more days, though, as your baby’s oral skills are always developing.

Good to know

Not all babies reach these milestones at the same time, so be sure not to start too soon. It is always smart to speak with your pediatrician around your baby’s four-month visit about when to start introducing solids.

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Good nutrition starts with first foods

Babies in the first two years are rapidly growing and have specific nutritional requirements. Gerber fortified infant cereals provide a blend of B vitamins, Zinc, Calcium, Iron and Vitamin E, all key for his rapid growth. After introducing solid baby foods, the nutrition of an Iron-rich cereal can be an important part of your baby’s diet until the age of two.

Here are a few tips on introducing cereal:
  • Breastfeed or offer him formula first so he won’t be fussy or too hungry.
  • Choose a time of day you do not have to rush, when he is wide-awake and mildly hungry.
  • Use the appropriate spoon. Be sure to only use a small baby-sized spoon that’s been coated to protect your baby’s tender gums.
  • Sit him in an upright infant seat or high chair, making sure his head is in an upright position and not tilted back.
  • Let him explore. Place a dab of cereal on his high chair tray so he can "finger paint" with it and become familiar with its texture. Let him explore the feel and smell of the cereal. This is both fun and messy!
  • For the first bite, try putting a dab of cereal on his lip. If he's agreeable to that first taste, put the next bite into his mouth when he opens it. Sit facing your baby and hold a half-spoonful of cereal about 12 inches from his face. Get his attention and put the spoon up to his mouth. Feed your baby as slowly or as rapidly as she wants and always look for his fullness cues. It’s all about the experience!
  • Try, try again. Don’t be surprised if your baby’s first taste pops right back out. It’s a natural reflex. If your baby seems unhappy about this experience, give it up for now and try again later.

Good to know

Breastmilk or formula will still be your baby’s main source of nutrition. Starting solids is a time of introducing new flavors and textures to your baby, a time of exploration.

Helpful tips on introducing cereals:

  • Start with infant rice or oatmeal cereal. Wait several days after introducing one, and if there are no reactions, try a different infant cereal. Offering only single-grain cereals at first lets you pinpoint any possible food sensitivities or reactions—such as a rash, diarrhea or vomiting—that your baby may have to a new food.
  • Prepared cereal should never be fed from a bottle—only from a spoon—unless directed by your pediatrician.
  • When first starting cereal, mixing it with breastmilk or formula is recommended. Move to a thicker consistency once you feel your baby is mastering the thin texture.
  • Prepare only as much as you think your baby will eat. Never save cereal that’s been prepared, as it can grow bacteria very easily.

Top Tip

Waiting three days before introducing a new food or taste lets you watch for any signs of any intolerance or sensitivity—such as a rash, diarrhea, runny nose or vomiting. If you suspect a reaction, stop feeding your baby the new food and speak to your pediatrician.

Watch this helpful video to learn some quick and easy tips on introducing solids to your baby. 

We’re here to help

For questions or advice on introducing solids and when to start your baby on cereals, schedule a free session to talk with one of Gerber’s Registered Dietitians.
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