One of the great debates of parenthood involves how and when to feed cereal to your baby.
Understanding the difference between oatmeal vs rice cereal for babies helps you make the best decision for your little one.
- What Are the Main Differences Between Rice and Oatmeal Cereal?
- Rice or Oatmeal Cereal is Best for My Baby With Reflux?
- When Should I Feed My Baby Cereal?
- Introducing Rice or Oatmeal Cereal to My Baby
Oatmeal Vs Rice Cereal For Babies
Obviously, the two cereals are made from completely different ingredients, and each contains exactly what its name implies.
However, this is not the only difference between rice cereal and oatmeal cereal.
Rice cereal is typically viewed as being less likely to generate an allergic reaction compared to oatmeal cereal.
However, it tends to fail in the nutritional department since it offers very few nutrients that babies need.
Oatmeal offers a healthy boost of fiber and other nutrients such as iron that makes it stand out when you are comparing oatmeal vs rice cereal for babies.
There is also a slight difference in flavor that may affect how well your baby accepts one of their first new foods.
Rice cereal is very bland and almost tasteless, which can be good if your baby is a finicky eater.
If you blend it with formula or breast milk, they may not even notice.
Oatmeal has a slightly nutty flavor.
This is also a good thing for babies with a curious personality.
Your baby may choose to eat the oatmeal cereal simply because it piques their interest.
If this is the case, then pat yourself on the back, because it also means that your baby will love trying new foods later on.
The other notable difference between the two is that rice cereal can sometimes increase the chances of your baby becoming constipated.
Oatmeal cereal is less likely to do so because it contains fiber.
With either option, making sure that your baby consumes enough breast milk or formula is the best way to prevent constipation from occurring.
If you do notice a change in your baby’s bowel habits, then just cut back on the cereal a little bit until the issue resolves.
Is Rice or Oatmeal Cereal Best for Babies With Reflux?
For some babies, feeding times are not the most relaxing and enjoyable parts of the day.
Reflux often feels like every parent’s worst nightmare, and it is so very frustrating to watch as your baby struggles with their feedings.
With reflux, your baby may spit up more than normal, vomit and even begin to lose weight due to their inability to keep their food down.
They may also experience pain or frequent hunger that causes them to cry for long periods of time, and they may not always respond to your efforts to soothe them.
While it is frustrating to deal with, you don’t have to stand by helplessly watching as your baby suffers from reflux.
There are things that you can do, and the first step is to start by talking to your child’s pediatrician to rule out any other types of disorders.
Your baby’s pediatrician may also offer their thoughts regarding the benefits and drawbacks of oatmeal vs rice cereal for babies with reflux.
In the past, rice cereal was the most frequently recommended option for helping babies to deal with reflux since it has always been viewed as milder and less allergenic.
However, more people are beginning to take the view that there is not enough of a difference between the two types of cereals to matter.
In fact, allergic reactions to oatmeal are rare enough that you probably don’t have to worry about that factor much unless your baby is already prone to allergies.
It does help to know how baby cereal helps with reflux.
Essentially, reflux happens when your baby’s digestive system struggles to keep breast milk or formula down.
The cereal adds bulk to the milk that helps it to make its way to your baby’s stomach and settle there so that it can be digested.
For very young infants, it only takes a small amount of the cereal to generate beneficial effects.
If you try using cereal for easing reflux symptoms, then be aware that the extra bulk may cause your baby to eat less of their milk or formula at each feeding.
To address this change, try feeding your baby more often, especially if they show signs of hunger before their normal feeding time.
You can find ways to reduce reflux symptoms in babies in the video below.
When Should I Feed My Baby Cereal?
Naturally, you are probably wondering at what age do babies eat cereal.
As with most questions the come up during parenthood, the answer varies according to your child’s health, feeding habits, and your personal preferences.
The current recommendations is to begin feeding your baby cereal no earlier than between four to six months.
The idea behind this is that babies need to drink solely formula or breast milk until they have had enough time to grow and develop their digestive system.
Some people also fear that using cereal will cause a baby to eat less of the nutritious milk or formula in their bottles.
While it is true that babies should always get the bulk of their nutrition from their bottles, they may benefit from having cereal earlier.
Babies with reflux often have symptoms that start in their very first few weeks of life.
For these babies, waiting until they are older means that they must wait to receive the benefits of having cereal for keeping their milk down.
In addition to reflux, certain babies also benefit from having cereal introduced at an earlier age.
For instance, a larger baby who has already started drinking the maximum amount of milk they should eat each day may need cereal to help calm their appetite.
Babies who wake up multiple times during the night past the newborn stage for a feeding may be showing signs that they are ready to begin solid foods earlier than the average baby.
Always pay attention to your baby’s cues. After all, you know them best, and you can tell what makes them happy.
As long as your pediatrician says that it is safe to go ahead and introduce cereal, then there is no need to wait any longer.
What Can I Do to Make Introducing Rice or Oatmeal Cereal to My Baby Easier?
Those first few feedings are exciting moments to behold, and your first step is to make sure that you have your camera ready.
Next, make sure to clear your baby’s feeding area of anything that you don’t want to get cereal on, and throw on some old clothes because things are about to get messy.
Seriously, though, introducing cereal to your baby is fairly simple, and most babies enjoy having something new to add to their mealtimes.
When it comes to introducing cereal to your baby, you have the option of either placing it into their bottle or using a spoon.
For very young babies, it is often easier to put it into their bottles since they haven’t developed the ability to swallow from a spoon.
To know how much cereal to add to the bottle, ask your child’s doctor or follow the instructions on the cereal box.
The video below will tell you how much rice cereal & oatmeal you need to feed your baby and more.
As a general rule, about one Tablespoon of cereal is added to two ounces of milk.
However, you can make the solution thinner for first feedings by adding slightly less cereal.
You may also need to switch to a bigger bottle nipple or use ones designed for cereal feedings since smaller nipples may not accommodate the thicker liquid.
You can also opt to serve your baby cereal from a spoon.
While this is definitely the messier option, it is also a lot of fun to finally get the chance to feed your baby like a real tiny little human.
Once again, start with a thinner liquid at first, and you can gradually add more cereal until you find your baby’s desired thickness.
As with anything new, your baby will be more receptive to trying their new cereal when they are not overly tired or hungry.
Try feeding it to your baby during their second feeding of the day, and remember that it is perfectly normal to only get one or two spoonfuls into your baby the first few times.
Remember that they should still be getting most of their calories from milk, so it’s no big deal if they spit out their cereal at this point.
Babies also tend to push new foods around and out of their mouth at first.
Your baby may even make an adorable scrunched up face. This doesn’t mean that they don’t like it.
It actually means that they are experimenting with the taste, texture and other sensations that they experience as they try out the new food.
If your baby is old enough to eat pureed fruits or vegetables, then you can also use these to encourage them to try more cereal.
Simply blend the added ingredient into your baby’s mixed cereal and milk to create a more interesting flavor and boost of nutrients.
Do you need some Hand made recipes? Here is rice cereal with 3 flavours!
As the great debate wages on regarding which type of cereal is better for babies, remember that you know what is best.
Always trust your instincts, and you can look forward to watching your baby thrive as they try out new foods.
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- Rice 101: Nutrition facts and health effects
- Oats 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
- Reflux in babies
Photo & Video credits: KarinaSkye, IntermountainMoms, c4cooking.