6 month old baby refuses cereals

Dr. Laura,

We began to give my daughter solid foods beginning at the 6th month. At the beginning, she ate cereals, vegetables and yogurt, and fruits. But now she refuses to have yogurt and cereals with milk. She still takes fruit and vegetables. How can I get her to eat cereal?
--Asli

Dear Asli,
You don't say what else your baby is eating but I assume that breastmilk or formula is still the major part of her diet, as is recommended by all pediatricians for a six month old. Solid food is really just an "extra" for babies this age.

I am a psychologist, not a pediatrician, and I advise you to check with your doctor. However, I can give you this advice, from mom to mom!

There is no reason that cereal needs to be the first or main solid that your daughter has. It's traditional to give kids rice cereal as a first food because it has iron in it, and because rice allergies are rare. But since commercial cereals have all the bran and germ stripped out (so they will last for years on supermarket shelves) they are not all that great for babies nutritionally anyway.

Many doctors now recommend vegetables and fruits as terrific first choices for babies. Avocados, for instance, are rich in beneficial oils and nutrients. Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin A and taste great. Most babies love bananas, which are rich in potassium.

Often, babies prefer sweet fruits to vegetables. To avoid this, I chose to give my babies vegetables first, rather than fruits. Once they develop a taste for sweet potatoes, carrots, avocado, peas, etc, you can introduce fruits.

As for yogurt, there is no reason a six month old needs it, since formula and breast milk have plenty of calcium. Once you introduce it at eight months, if your baby finds it too tart, you can mix it with peaches or another fruit your child likes.

The most important thing, which I assume you know, is that you need to introduce all new foods carefully to watch for food allergies. How?

1. Introduce new foods one at a time.

2. Follow the "four day wait" rule when introducing your baby to new solid foods. When you introduce a new food over the course of several days, you are better able to determine exactly how your baby is reacting to that food.

3. Introduce new foods during the morning, so that you can observe any negative reactions and easily reach your doctor if necessary.

You should also know that you don't NEED to feed your six month old any solid food, if she's breast-feeding. Many moms let the baby choose what she wants to eat, by letting her reach out and grab the food she wants. When you think about it, this makes a lot more sense than expecting your baby to open her mouth and accept whatever you want to put into it. For more information on the advantages of this practice (which is usually called "Baby-led Weaning"), here's an article for you: Feeding Your Baby

Good luck!
Dr. Laura


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