Most parents begin with one of the precooked cereals made especially for babies. They are ready to eat as soon as they’re mixed, which is a great convenience. Most are fortified with iron, which is very important in a baby’s diet. You can also give your baby the same cooked cereals as you serve the other members of the family. But these grown-up cereals shouldn’t be the mainstay of your baby’s diet because they do not have enough iron in them to meet a growing baby’s needs.
It’s a good idea, if you are starting with cereal, to mix it a little thinner than the directions on the box say. Then it will seem more familiar to the baby and will be easier to swallow. Also, babies and small children dislike food with a sticky consistency.
You will know within a few days after starting how your baby is going to take to cereal. Some babies seem to decide, “It’s queer, but it’s nourishment, so I’ll eat it.” As the days go by they grow more and more enthusiastic. They open their mouths for it like birds in the nest.
But there are other babies who decide on the second day of cereal that they don’t like it at all. And on the third day they dislike it more than on the second. If your baby feels this way, be careful. Take it easy. If you try to push the cereal into your baby against his will, he will get more and more rebellious. You will get exasperated, too. In a week or two he may become so suspicious that he will balk at the bottle also.
Offer the cereal just once a day. Give only enough to cover the tip of the teaspoon until he is used to it. Add a little fruit to see if he likes it better that way. If in two or three days he is getting more set against it in spite of all these precautions, then stop altogether for a couple of weeks. If he still balks when you try again, report the problem to your doctor.
It’s a great mistake to get into an argument with babies about their first solid food. Sometimes a long-lasting feeding problem starts in this way. Even if it doesn’t last, why go through an unnecessary fight?
If your baby is balking at cereal, you can start with vegetables or fruit instead. At first, babies are puzzled by these foods, too. But within a day or two practically all of them decide they love them. By the end of two weeks they are ready to assume that anything that comes on a spoon is wonderful. Then you can add cereal too.