Cereals are known for their high-fibre content and great nutrient contribution for babies aged 6 months to 2 years. You can subsequently add vegetables before fruits to allow your baby to get used to their taste.
Protein foods such as meats, cheeses, yogurts and egg yolks can be added later on. Keep in mind that milk, which is a more nourishing and complete food than cereal, remains the best food during the child’s first year. All the protein and calcium needed during that first year is found in milk. Babies can drink up to 1200ml (40 ounces) every day until they are 6 months old and until solid foods are introduced in their diet.
When introducing cow milk into your child’s diet, don’t give more than 900 ml (30 ounces) per day. This milk, rich in protein and fat, could predispose your child to infant obesity. Since cow milk isn’t ideal for babies, it is better to avoid incorporating it in your child’s diet before he is 9 months old.
Cereals will be your child’s first solid food, so go gently. Cereals are given with a spoon, not through a bottle. Use a small spoon with a rounded tip to avoid hurting the inside of your child’s mouth. Don’t add sugar!
When introducing a new food into your child’s diet, use this food exclusively for about four to five days. Given in small quantities (5ml or 1 teaspoon), the given food should have a smooth texture and become thicker as your baby learns to eat and swallow.
Most cereals for babies are enriched with iron. The iron concentration should be of 14 mg of iron per 28 grams, 140ml (½ cup). Iron-enriched foods should be favoured until your child is 2 years old. You may choose from a large variety of cereals available and add fruits later on.
When your baby is 6 months old, choose one-grain cereals, with no sugar, fruits or yogurt added. Feed your child this cereal exclusively for five to seven days before introducing a new variety. This will allow you to check your child’s digestive system and make sure there are no intolerances to certain foods.
Start with rice and barley. To reduce the risk of allergies, start with one grain cereal before giving oat, soya or other mixed cereals. You can try new mixes with fruits and yogurt after 12 months.
Start with 3ml to 5ml (½ to 1 teaspoon) after morning and night feedings, and make it a liquid texture. By using twice as much milk as cereal, you will make the consistency of the cereal thicker as time goes by. Never replace milk with water unless the cooking instructions indicate otherwise. Slowly increase from 5ml to 15ml (1 to 3 teaspoons) morning and night, until your child is satiated. By the time your child is 12 months old, he will eat about 175ml of dry cereal every day and will need an extra dose of about 7mg to 10mg of iron in his diet.
There are cereal based cookies sold in supermarkets. These are often given when children are teething. These cookies do not relieve the pain and can cause cavities because of the added sugar.
You can start introducing vegetables into your child’s diet about two to three weeks after you’ve introduced cereals. Veggies are rich in vitamins and minerals. They will add calories that are essential to your child. In fact, their high-fibre content will make your baby’s stools more solid and regular. This food group is very valuable to your child’s health.