Feed on

We’ve been duped, plain and simple. For months now, I’ve been told about the wonders of rice cereal. According to folk wisdom, it has the power to solve two of my new-mom challenges: fatigue and messiness.

Tired from nursing twice each night? Try some rice cereal. Baby will sleep through the night.

Tired from constantly mopping up a river of spit-up? Try some rice cereal. Heavier foods stay down better.

Thus, for the last several weeks I’ve carefully watched for signs that Simon was ready to try solids. According to my books, he’d be ready when he sat well with support, when he showed an interest in my food, when he lost his tongue-thrust reflex, and–ideally–when he was as close to six months as I could stand to wait.

And so I waited like a true believer for these signs to appear. I waited in happy anticipation. I waited like Linus did when he sat in his sincere pumpkin patch knowing that this year, this year for sure, the Great Pumpkin would arrive.

Then, lo, this past Sunday the signs were all in order. It was time. Matt mixed up the cereal and put Simon on his knee. Auntie Jen got out the video camera to record the drama. And I commenced to feeding the child.

We started out fabulously. I put the spoon in Simon’s mouth and he took it like a champ! In fact, he attempted to lift the entire bowl and chug the cereal all at once. He leaned forward and eagerly took each spoonful from me and even managed to swallow most of them. Finally, after eating the vast majority of what we prepared, he turned his head away from the approaching spoon as his belly was full.

About an hour and a half later, Simon fell asleep. Matt and I turned in ourselves with visions of long stretches of uninterrupted sleep in our heads. How long woud he go? Four hours? Five hours? Six hours? The suspense was killing us.

But not for long! Because at 11:30, exactly three hours after this exciting first meal, Simon woke up hungry. He did the same at 2:30. And at 6:00. And at 9:00.

Did I mention he spat up like Vesuvius, too?

As far as I am concerned, Matt and I just recorded our own, never-to-be-aired episode of Myth Busters. Because let me tell you, that rice cereal could not come close to satisfying the needs of a nearly six-month old baby during a growth spurt.

And those fabled babies who slept through the night so easily and so quickly after their first taste? Let me assure you, it was the formula that conked them out, not the rice cereal.

We’ll give Simon his rice cereal again tonight, and we’ll even make it thicker this time. But we’ll also be going to sleep when baby does, because we now know that a long night still awaits.

2 Responses to “Rice Cereal: Myth vs. Reality”

  1. harriette says:

    Hi, Jessica.

    The perpetrators probably fed their youngster much earlier. I fed Ian rice cereal before he was a month old (a tiny teaspoon), which was a little early even then, but he did slurp it up and slept through the night. I was told by my pediatrician that it was OK to give babies rice cereal because they wouldn’t develop an allergy to it and I was desperate and sleep-deprived. As I told Ian, the advice doctors give changes back and forth (and not only on this question), but the babies still seem to survive. By 6 months old, my boys were scarfing up 1-2 jars of baby food a day. I guess they just got started so young they didn’t know any better .

  2. shawn says:

    I definetly wouldn’t give up…

    Kalyna started off slow, we feed her one bowl a day but quickly moved to feeding her 3 times a day once she enjoyed it. (We used formula, not breastmilk for the cereal).

    We still had to feed her at night for a while.. it took some time until we fed her enough during the day and she learned she wasn’t going to get a midnight snack and could survive..

    Our feeding routine goes like this now:

    Breastfed when she wakes up… (6:30am – 7)
    breakfast – 8am
    lunch – noon
    dinner – 4pm
    breastfed when put down for the night – 7pm

    We occasionally do a feeding at night if she wakes up.. I know she falls asleep easier with a late night feeding, but she’s sleeping well through the night now..

    Even when we fed her rice ceral, we had to force the sleep training… Kalyna would wake up normally at the same times even after we did rice cereal and formula until we did sleep training…

    We actually kept track how many feedings we were giving her at night, and just slowly tried to weed them out… We noticed that when I went in and patted her to sleep, she would pretty much fall back asleep. If Yun even came in the room, it was chaos.. Baby smells the milk :)

    Good luck.. don’t give up :)

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