Breastmilk and Rice Cereal?

Tania - posted on 03/15/2009 ( 22 moms have responded )

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My son is 4 months, teething and seems to be going through growth spurts every two weeks or so. He still seems hungry after he eats (fussy) and can't seem to wait 3 hours between each feed at the moment. He's 16.5 lb and I thought he would be OK to breastfeed only until at least 6 months. My husband wants to start him rice cereal. From what I've read you only start them on a tablespoon or two a day. Would that be of any help? What has been your experience? Thanks!

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Cynthia - posted on 03/15/2009

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when my second son feeds I let him continue to latch on for up to 40 minutes. I keep massaging my breast and you can feel how much less is in there after 25minutes and even less after near 40minutes when he is really hungry. if i feed more often he just gets the foremilk, but if I feed longer at each feed he will last longer between feeds and sleep better.



make sure you are burping as you go with a long feed. if they start to squirm on the breast stop feeding, burp, and then resume feeding. dont let your husband push you into something you may resent later. (mine tried just because he wanted to feed our first son so badly, so i would pump and let him bottle feed, everybody happy).



starting on cereals is twice a day mixed with breast milk works best. at each feed start with a tablespoon of cereal and mix to a near runny consistantcy that is warm. if baby is slow to eat just rewarm as you go. good luck.

Krystle - posted on 03/16/2009

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I started my baby on rice a little after 4 months because he was getting big. The milk wasnt doing enough for him. No effects here.

[deleted account]

Please do not give your baby rice cereal until at least 6 months of age (WHO recomendation). Unfortunately parents are led to believe(by who I have no idea) that cereal will help them sleep longer and go longer between feeds, not the case. My daughter is 4 months old and she watches us eat and looks interested (drools and all), but I know she is not ready for solids for several more months - the ONLY thing your baby needs i breastmilk!! I would also for go the schedule as it can seriously affect your milk supply, milk production is based on how much stimulation of the breast is happening - if you son is going through growth spurts and fussy, keep him on the breast for longer. If he is not interested offer him again an hour later so he doesn't get upset, watch for his cues and try starting a feed before he gets to that really upset, super hungry stage.



You can also try a few feeds on the same breast before switching to the other side as you need to make sure you are completely emptying your breasts (giving your baby the thirst quenching foremilk and the thicker stick to your ribs hindmilk).



Also remember - breastmilk gets digested much easier and quicker than formula - therefore breastfed babies tend to need more frequent feedings - but don't look at this as a bad thing!



Feeding on demand will give your son what he needs, when he needs it. If he really is going through a growth spurt than please don't make him wait 3 hours until you feed again.



Your baby needs breastmilk until 6 months (as his only source of food) and then beyond breastmilk along with his solids - you do not have to ween just because he is 6 months old! It will compliment his other foods (your milk can be mixed in with rice cereal, fruit, veg, etc.) Once he gets to liking all of the different foods, they generally ween down to a few feeds a day (morning, afternoon and before bed) and that is ok! Take your sons lead.



Keep up the good work Tania!



Jenn Rankin



Doula, Breastfeeding Counsellor & Midwifery Student

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[deleted account]

I've heard that cereal does NOT get a baby to go longer between feedings.  If anything, he NEEDS more breastmilk.  When my daughter goes through growth spurts, she goes from wanting to nurse every 3 or 4 hours to every 1 or 2 hours for a period of time.  They naturally know to nurse more frequently to get your milk supply up because it's what they need.  I would say (since I was trying to stick to a schedule and gave up on it) the easiest and most natural thing is to feed on demand.  It makes a much happier baby!  I am going to wait until my daughter is 6 or 7 mo. to start cereal (Dr. recommendation) even though she acts interested, she really won't be developmentally ready until she's older. (she's 5 mo. now)

Lauren - posted on 03/19/2009

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I started cereal at about 4 1/2 months.  I only gave her 1 tbsp twice a day until she was 6 months.  Now she does 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) in the am and pm.  The first time she had it I mixed 1 tbsp cereal with 5 tbsp breastmilk.  Each night I used less milk to make it thicker.  Now I use 1 tbsp breastmilk for every 1 tbsp cereal.  I started earlier because my daughter needed some extra calories every day.  She enjoys her cereal everyday and my doctor said it was fine to start that early.  I would not have done it otherwise. 

[deleted account]

Quoting Michelle:




I trust the person who told me to put rice cereal in my sons bottle, b/c it was his Dr.  For some children it seems to help.  It helps our son, in part due to him being a very spity baby sometimes.  The cereal helps him keep his milk down, in turn helping him sleep longer since he is not spitting the bulk of it back up.  So yes, it was my Dr thst said it could help.





I am glad that worked for you Michelle. However I think we put a little too much trust in doctors instead of making informed decisions based on research and not just because we were told to do something. Doctors can agree with ideas you may have heard of or give you an "old school" method to ease parents minds - I am just going on the most recent recommendations. I think the risk of allergies is just not worth the risk to begin with. Why add anything else to an already perfect combination of protein, carbs, sugars, fats, vitamins, minerals, etc. as found in breastmilk?



Did your doctor try to get to the bottom of why your baby was spitting up so much and try to remedy the problem first? There are lots of reasons why babies can spit up more or less and there are ways to solve this before resorting to cereal to an underdeveloped digestive tract. My daughter has been quite a spity baby from birth (now 4 months) and I have learned through trial and error that reducing my dairy intake makes a huge difference, she is also just one to spit up some.



Sometimes there is something in the mothers diet that can affect the baby, some babies need frequent burps during and after feeds, some need to be upright for quite some time following a feed to properly digest. There are loads of ways, even resorting to medications that can help spitty babies.



Bottom line - you are going to do what you feel is right and so you should - I just hope you do it because you choose to and not simply because you were told to (I will always welcome and take what is suggested to me, combine with what I feel is right and make a decision based on facts = Informed Decision Making).



We must make decisions as parents where we can live with the outcomes.



Jenn Rankin



Doula, Breastfeeding Counsellor & Midwifery Student

Michelle - posted on 03/17/2009

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Quoting Jenn:



Please do not give your baby rice cereal until at least 6 months of age (WHO recomendation). Unfortunately parents are led to believe(by who I have no idea) that cereal will help them sleep longer and go longer between feeds, not the case. My daughter is 4 months old and she watches us eat and looks interested (drools and all), but I know she is not ready for solids for several more months - the ONLY thing your baby needs i breastmilk!! I would also for go the schedule as it can seriously affect your milk supply, milk production is based on how much stimulation of the breast is happening - if you son is going through growth spurts and fussy, keep him on the breast for longer. If he is not interested offer him again an hour later so he doesn't get upset, watch for his cues and try starting a feed before he gets to that really upset, super hungry stage.






You can also try a few feeds on the same breast before switching to the other side as you need to make sure you are completely emptying your breasts (giving your baby the thirst quenching foremilk and the thicker stick to your ribs hindmilk).






Also remember - breastmilk gets digested much easier and quicker than formula - therefore breastfed babies tend to need more frequent feedings - but don't look at this as a bad thing!






Feeding on demand will give your son what he needs, when he needs it. If he really is going through a growth spurt than please don't make him wait 3 hours until you feed again.






Your baby needs breastmilk until 6 months (as his only source of food) and then beyond breastmilk along with his solids - you do not have to ween just because he is 6 months old! It will compliment his other foods (your milk can be mixed in with rice cereal, fruit, veg, etc.) Once he gets to liking all of the different foods, they generally ween down to a few feeds a day (morning, afternoon and before bed) and that is ok! Take your sons lead.






Keep up the good work Tania!






Jenn Rankin






Doula, Breastfeeding Counsellor & Midwifery Student






I trust the person who told me to put rice cereal in my sons bottle, b/c it was his Dr.  For some children it seems to help.  It helps our son, in part due to him being a very spity baby sometimes.  The cereal helps him keep his milk down, in turn helping him sleep longer since he is not spitting the bulk of it back up.  So yes, it was my Dr thst said it could help.

Heather - posted on 03/17/2009

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It won't really have any affect at because your baby is just learning how to eat, so most of the time the first month or so they are just getting used to putting something like a spoon in their mouth. Food really only helps cut down on feeding when they are much older (like eating two jars a day) and that's only because they get more efficent at getting breastmilk. Meaning they still eat as much breastmilk, just in less sittings. Again this is when they are much older and are probably starting to crawl. But you can try him on rice cereal, but again he won't really be eating it for a while. I started my little guy on it around 4 months and then regretted it because it made him gassy, so I waited a few weeks and then it was better.

Jessica - posted on 03/17/2009

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i started my bub on rice cereal at 4 months for that reason, it made no difference. for now just feed on demand to get your supply up. the health nurses i spoke to said rice cereal doesnt fill them up, especially with the small amount that you start with, its more for iron and to get them used to eating. the bonus is that, at 6 months, logan was really ready for solids and so he eats 3 meals a day at 7 months. however he still has 6 breastfeeds a day, and for young babies they will still want a b/feed after solids, so u are creating more work for yourself too. in the end, its your baby, but dont expect any miracles!

[deleted account]

When a baby is getting big and healthy before 6 months - THAT IS A GOOD THING! It means your milk is perfect for your baby and is doing what it is supposed to do!



It does not mean he needs anything more - obviously with breastmilk (or formula) he/she is doing just fine, why change it?



My daughter is almost 4 1/2 months - she is big and very healthy, but I certainly don't intend on giving her anything else until she is older. I know she is healthy because she is breastfed :) I am not in any hurry to get her to the next stage...



Jenn Rankin



Doula, Breastfeeding Counsellor & Midwifery Student

Elyse - posted on 03/16/2009

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just feed him more often! My baby still eats every couple of hours and he's 8 months and healthy as a horse

Noor Ani - posted on 03/16/2009

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Maybe if you try to breastfeed him on demand (as at when he wants it), he will be more satisfied and full. But if you still want to start him on solids, i would suggest you consult the ped first. Good luck!

Melinda Mendy - posted on 03/16/2009

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I WAITED TOGIVE MY SON CEREAL UNTIL HE WAS 6 MONTHS AND THEN I PUMPED BREAST MILK EVERY MORNING AND MIXED IT INTO THE CEREAL. EARLY ON IT SEEMED I HAD HIM ATTACHED TO ME 24 7 AND FELT LIKE I NEEDED HELP. MY LACTATION CONSULTANT TOLD ME HE WAS USING ME AS A PACIFIER AND AGAINST HER TEACHINGS TOLD ME TO INTRODUCE A PACIFIER, SHE ALSO SAID IT WAS OK TO LET HIM GET HUNGRY  A LITTLE BIT BEFORE NURSING. THIS ADVICE SAVED ME.  HE SPIT THE PACIFIER OUT AT 6 MONTHS OLD AND DIDNT WANT IT ANYMORE. PLUS I COULD NURSE HIM WHEN HE WAS HUNGRY AND HE WOULD NURSE LONGER AND WE WERE FINALLY ABLE TO GET INTO A MORE ROUTINE. SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO US UNCONVENTIONALLY METHODS, TO SOLVE SOME OF THESE ISSUES. I WENT ON TO NURSE HIM UNTIL HE WAS ALMOST 3 YRS OLD AND HE NEVER HAD ANYTHING OTHER THAN BREASTMILK, OF COURSE WHEN IT WAS TIME I INTRODUCED JUICE BUT HE NEVER HAD FORMULA  OF ANY KIND. I WENT ON TO BECOME A BREASTFEEDING PEER COUNSELOR AND TAUGHT BREASTFEEDING CLASSES, WENT TO THE HOSPITALS TO HELP MOM BREASTFEED. JUST REMEMBER NOTHING IS TEXTBOOK EVERY MOM AND BABY IS DIFFERENT WITH DIFFERENT NEEDS.

Heather - posted on 03/15/2009

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My son is 4 months and weighs 17 pounds and 14 ounces.  His doctor told me that I could start giving him rice cereal when he was 3 months because he was so big and healthy.  They do say though to start the rice cereal at 4 months and wait for the other stuff at 6 months.  Maybe talk to your doctor and see what they say!

Michelle - posted on 03/15/2009

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I have started pumping and adding some rice cereal to a bottle at night helps him not only keep his feed down but he now sleeps for about 6 hours at a time. Gives my husband and I some extra sleep. I do it just enough so that he has to try harder to get the food but still thin enough to go through a regular size nipple. Seems to work for us. Good luck

Katie - posted on 03/15/2009

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I think my son has been able to go 3 hours during the day once or twice since he was born--he's 7 months old. I probably nurse him 14-18 times a day, and that includes a five hour sleeping stretch in the middle of the night. When I nurse him, though, he only eats for about 5 minutes at the most before he's ready to get up and do something else.



I know that breastmilk digests a lot faster then formula, I think in as fast as two hours, so maybe his body needs it more often.



I would only start him on rice cereal if you are choosing to start solids. My favorite web site about baby food is www.wholesomebabyfood.com. It has lots of info on timing, how to make it if you want to, nutrition content, etc. If he can sit up in a high chair and doesn't forcefully push food out of his mouth then by some standards he may be ready (although even with these babies the AAP says wait).



I'd hold off on the rice cereal, though. I know it is tradition and the recommended 'first food' by lots of doctors because it is easy to swallow and very low risk for any allergic reaction, but it also hardly has anything good in it. The same amount of breast milk has a lot more vitamins, antibodies, minerals, and good fats. Try to find a cereal (maybe infant oatmeal or even brown rice) that is organic, whole grain (not 90% enriched, 10% whole grain), high in fiber and a good protein content. Beware of even brown rice if you have had constipation problems, though.



Good luck, hope this helps.

[deleted account]

I found my son was wanting to feed often at 4months but it turns out he was just bored and teething.

So now I do everything before I nurse him ie) change diapers, play with him/distract him.

If any of those things didn't work I fed him.

He went from feeding every 2hrs to every 3 or 4hrs.

I also noticed now that he is teething he used me to sooth himself, so that made him want to nurse more as well. He would latch on and gum me and not be sucking, which is another reason I try all my options before I nursed him. If he's not so hungry distracting him stopped him from crying.

Amber - posted on 03/15/2009

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Let the child eat when he gets hungry. You may find that pumping will work if he wants to eat more often than it is convenient for you. (the more you pump the more milk your body will produce). The solid foods theory is only a myth. it does not hold them over any longer between feedings. I feel that you should contact a Lactation Consultant in your area for a meeting or group to attend for more information on how to feed your son. They give really good advice and their knowledge is not sonstrained to breast feeding, although that is what they do specialize in. I got a lot of help through my consultant.

[deleted account]

My experience....?  My girls were fed on a 3 hour feeding schedule from birth up until whenever it was that we switched to a 4 hour schedule.  They started solids at 3.5 months (because they were VERY interested) and did fine w/ them.



My son, on the other hand, was fed on demand.  I tried to guide him to a 3 hour schedule, but he would have none of it.  We started trying solids at around 5 months, but it took about a month before he actually knew what to do w/ the food.  He went back and forth between loving it and only wanting to nurse.  He is almost one now.  Loves his real food, but also still nurses about 10 times in a 24 hour period.



Moral of the story.  Every kid is different.  In your situation I would probably try nursing more often and holding off on the solids for another month or two at least.  Oh, I don't remember how much my son weighed at that time, but I remember he was about 13 pounds at 2 months.  Big boys like to eat. :)

Amanda - posted on 03/15/2009

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Why are you waiting 3 hours before the next feeding? During a growth spurt many children will feed 1 to 2 hours apart to bring more milk in. I also agree with the other mothers starting cereal isnt going to help him between feedings, rice cereal isnt for more calories its for more iron intake. My only suggestion is to feed on demand, you and your son will be much more happy.

Barbara - posted on 03/15/2009

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 For how long do your nursing sessions last?  Are you sure he isn't filling up on foremilk and missing out on the more fattening and satisfying hindmilk?  After three hours you would have a lot of foremilk for him to go through before he got to the good stuff.  I would try nursing longer and more frequently for a while and see if that helps, and I would wait on the solids.  I can see that you already know that they reccomend you wait until six months before starting solids.  Why risk it?

Laura - posted on 03/15/2009

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I was breastfeeding my first while studying for the bar exam.  I thought moving him to some solids, including rice cereal would help him sleep through night so I could get some sleep.  It had NO effect. 

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