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What Is Infant Cereal?

An infant and her father.
Article Details
  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 11 April 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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Infant cereal is one of many kinds of food products that are made for babies who are just starting to eat solid foods. Cereal may be one of the first things that an infant eats after a steady diet of breast milk or formula. These products are carefully designed to offer the right nutrition for these younger consumers.

Many infant cereal products are dry mixes that come in boxes or cans. These are made up of small dried flakes that contain rice or wheat products, along with additional ingredients for vitamin fortification or other essential nutrition. These kinds of instant cereal can be “reconstituted” with water or other liquids such as milk, and do not typically require cooking. Other infant cereal products may be sold already mixed with water, and some are combined with other foods like purees of fruits and vegetables, for slightly older children.

Parents have many kinds of infant cereal to choose from. Some will be wheat-based or barley-based. Rice cereal is another alternative option. These cereals will generally be clearly labeled with their fundamental ingredients.

In addition to choosing food ingredients for infant cereals, parents can choose between many different brands and styles. One of the main considerations is between organic or simple commercial cereals for infants. Some products are labeled organic to show that specific ingredients have been processed in particular ways and conform with a somewhat higher food standard.

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Because they are carefully designed for best nutrition, infant cereals carry specific nutritional information on their packaging. Parents can read the entire list of ingredients, as well as estimates of provided nutritional elements according to daily recommendations from authoritative food science institutions. These products may also include directions on portion sizes for infants of different age ranges.

It’s extremely important for parents to always read warnings and precautions on how and when to feed infants cereal and other foods. Babies have digestive systems that mature slowly over time. Foods that are safe at a later stage of development may not be safe at earlier stages. Parents need to do appropriate research to figure out when their baby is ready to progress from milk or formula to more solid foods. One method is to start mixing infant cereal with breast milk or formula when a pediatrician says the baby is ready for this more graduated nutrition. As with all foods, parents also need to be on the lookout for any allergies, and proceed carefully with introducing new foods.

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