Does my Baby Need an Infant Cereal

Baby sitting in chair being spoon fed infant cereal.

If you are starting to introduce solids, you may be wondering “Does my baby need an Infant cereal?”. In general, it’s recommended to start with an infant cereal because it’s high in iron (1). However, you don’t have to give cereal. Instead, you may choose to give other iron-rich food sources. Read on to learn more about infant cereal.


Does My Baby Need an Infant Cereal?

If you’re introducing solids, infant cereals are a good place to start. This is because infant cereals are high in iron (1). Notably, iron is one of the most important nutrients when introducing solids. 

To learn more about the important nutrients when introducing solids and meeting your baby’s iron needs, head to our previous blog posts. 

However, you can choose not to give an infant cereal. In this case, it’s important to provide other iron-rich food sources. This can include: 

    • Chicken 
    • Pork 
    • Tofu 
    • Legumes 
    • Beef
    • Eggs 
    • Seeds (2). 

If you decide to offer cereal, it can be confusing knowing which one to choose. Read on to learn more about how to choose an infant cereal.


How to Choose an Infant Cereal

There are many types of infant cereals to choose from. Because of this, it can be overwhelming to decide which one to go with. Here are some tips to help you: 

    • Ensure the cereal is fortified with iron → helps to meet iron needs 
    • Choose a wheat-based or multigrain cereal → introduces an allergen early on
    • Pick a cereal to mix with breast milk or formula (not water) → to increase nutrients
    • Select a cereal without fruit → helps develop taste for bland flavours (1,3,4, 5)


What to Avoid When Choosing an Infant Cereal

As mentioned, there are many infant cereals to choose from. However, there are some cereals you should try to avoid (or limit). This can include: 

    • Rice-based cereals → can contain arsenic which can be harmful (if including a rice-based cereal, include other cereals to offer variety)
    • Cereals mixed with water → doesn’t provide additional nutrients
    • Cereals mixed with honey (before 12 months of age) → can be a source of foodborne illness (5,6)


Final Notes from The Nest

Infant cereals are a good way to provide your baby with iron when starting solids. However, it can be confusing knowing which one to choose. In general, you should pick a cereal that is plain, wheat-based, and mixes with breastmilk or formula. Additionally, you should avoid or limit rice-based cereals, cereals mixed with water, or cereals that contain honey. For more information about infant-cereals, book a call with one of the Registered Dietitians at The Nest. 


Article Written by Hailey Belaire

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  1. Kids Health [Internet]. Delaware: The Nemours Foundation; c1995-2022 [updated 2021 Feb; cited 2022 Apr 16]. When can my baby start eating solid foods?; [about 2 screens]. Available from:
  2. Solid Starts [Internet]. Brooklyn: Solid Starts LLC; c2022 [updated 2020 Sept 30; cited 2022 Apr 16]. Top 25 iron-rich foods for babies and toddlers; [about 3 screens]. Available from:
  3. Solid Starts [Internet]. Brooklyn: Solid Starts LLC; c2022 [updated 2022 Mar 30; cited 2022 Apr 16]. Oats for babies; [about 4 screens]. Available from:
  4. Healthy Children [Internet]. Illinois; American Academy of Pediatricians; c2022 [updated 2021 Mar 17; cited 2022 Apr 16]. Starting solid foods [about 3 screens]. Available from: 
  5. Center for Disease Control. When, what, and how to introduce solids [Internet]. Atlanta; Center for Disease Control; 2021 [revised 2021 Aug 24; cited 2022 Apr 16]. Available from:
  6. Food and Drug Administration. For consumers: seven things pregnant women and parents need to know about arsenic in rice and rice cereal. Maryland: Food and Drug Administration; [revised 2020 Jun 8; cited 2022 Apr 16]. Available from: