Can You Put Oatmeal or Cereal in a Bottle? [Incl. Formula]

Balint Horvath, PhD

Writer, parent, and veteran of baby feeding battles.

Updated:

Putting oatmeal or cereal in a bottle seems the easiest way to feed your hungry baby. But, can you put oatmeal in a bottle? How about infant cereal for babies who are bottle-feeding? I’ve done the research and here’s what parents need to know!

Pediatricians recommend NOT putting oatmeal or cereal in bottles due to choking or overfeeding. Feeding solids to bottle-fed babies younger than four months isn’t advisable because of allergies. Oatmeal or cereal can be added to formula or breastmilk in a bottle if care is taken. 

Key takeaways

  • Whenever possible, choose to feed your baby oatmeal or cereal with a spoon rather than from a baby bottle. 
  • Oatmeal or baby cereal can be mixed with infant formula for a smoother consistency but watch out for choking or overfeeding if using a bottle.
  • Oatmeal is quite different from baby cereal with pediatricians recommending the former as a safer alternative. 
  • Oatmeal and baby cereal are grain products but they have many differences too!
  • Use my step-by-step process for making oatmeal or cereal in the baby bottle safely.
  • Oatmeal and baby cereal are highly nutritious and come with a number of benefits as a solid food for babies. 

Can you put oatmeal or cereal inside a baby bottle? 

Putting oatmeal or cereal inside a baby bottle is seemingly a convenient way to introduce your infant to solids. But is this really the best way to feed your baby solid food? There’s no clear-cut answer but either way, it’s important your baby is ready to be fed solids. 

By the time your baby reaches four to six months old, you can start to switch from infant formula to solids. Breastfed babies do better moving onto solids after they reach six months old. Oatmeal or infant cereal mixed with breastmilk or infant formula is a healthy way to transition your baby to solids but should it be done in a bottle? 

According to child experts, there are some solid food shortcuts you should avoid, one of them being NOT putting cereal in bottles. Many pediatricians recommend waiting until your baby is six months old before feeding them solids and by this time they’re ready to be spoon-fed. Here’s an article I wrote about spoon-feeding vs bottle-feeding.

Younger babies can be fed solids if they’re developmentally ready to take food such as oatmeal or rice cereal softened to mush. However, it’s best to spoon-feed them as long as they can hold their head up and can swallow food without it dribbling out of their mouth. 

Can you put oatmeal or cereal inside baby formula? 

Putting oatmeal or cereal inside baby formula is one way of softening food as your infant gets used to ingesting solids. However, if you choose to put oatmeal or cereal in your baby’s bottle, it’s important to take note of the following risks:

  • Choking hazard: If your baby isn’t used to having solids in their bottle, they could struggle to swallow it properly. This can cause them to gag or choke, especially if they’re lying down while drinking from the bottle.
  • Overfeeding: Your baby drinks according to volume and won’t stop drinking if they’re used to a certain amount at each feed. Adding cereal or oatmeal to infant formula increases the number of calories ingested at one meal. 

Pediatricians recommend giving your baby their breast milk or formula in a bottle before letting them take a spoonful or more of cereal or oatmeal as they get used to solids. 

Oatmeal vs cereal for a baby – differences, similarities

While oatmeal and cereal are both grain products, there are some differences worth noting when comparing oatmeal vs. cereal for a baby. Oatmeal is a processed form of oats used to make a porridge dish. It’s highly processed for babies through steaming or flaking, resulting in a thinner texture that’s safer and easier for smaller tums to digest. 

Baby cereal is made from grains such as rice, quinoa, or barley. Rice cereal is the most commonly used for babies and turns into a smooth, silky consistency when mixed with infant formula or breast milk. It’s easily digestible and should be fortified with iron.

Pediatricians often consider oatmeal as the safer alternative to rice cereal which can be exposed to arsenic. Eating oatmeal helps to reduce acid reflux, often a side effect of consuming rice exposed to inorganic arsenic. Oatmeal is gluten-free too making it perfect for little ones battling celiac disease

Watch this video which talks about the dangers of rice cereal for babies.

Step-by-step guide on how to put oatmeal or cereal in a bottle for a baby

Tommee Tippee Baby Bottles, Natural Start Anti-Colic Baby Bottle with Medium Flow Breast-Like Nipple, 11oz, 3m+, Self-Sterilizing, Baby Feeding Essentials, Pack of 3

The best time to introduce oatmeal or cereal in a bottle is when your baby is six months old. By this time they’re ready to handle solids and should be able to drink sitting up. Follow these steps to ensure your baby enjoys oatmeal or cereal in a bottle while getting the health benefits at the same time. You may choose for example the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Added Cereal Baby Bottle.

1. Mix With Water

Oatmeal and cereal for babies can be mixed with boiled water to get a smooth, thin consistency. You can add some breast milk or boiled formula instead of water if you want a nutrient-rich meal. However, be careful of adding too many calories to each feed. 

2. Use the Right Quantity

Filling the whole bottle with oatmeal or cereal will be too much for your baby to consume in one feed. Instead, follow the manufacturer’s recommendation on how much to give your little one at each meal. Normally, the quantity equates to filling the bottle to about one-third

3. Don’t Leave Baby Unattended

Before giving your baby their bottle, make sure they’re sitting upright to prevent choking or gagging. It’s vitally important that you sit with your baby while they’re drinking thickened food from the bottle to ensure they’re safe. 

4. Use a Y-Cut Nipple

Using a Y-cut nipple is ideal for thickened food and provides a consistent flow. This type of nipple is normally used for bottlefed babies from six to nine months old. Using wide-neck or narrow bottles makes it easier to add oatmeal or cereal to your baby’s feeding equipment. 

What are the benefits of oatmeal and cereal for babies? 

High in fiber and nutrients 

Oatmeal is high in fiber and is rich in nutrients essential for your baby’s growth and development. Three to four tablespoons of oatmeal meets your baby’s daily nutritional needs. Iron-fortified baby cereal with calcium, zinc, and Vitamins B, C, and E is healthy and meets your infant’s dietary requirements at that age. 

Blends well with other foods

Oatmeal and baby cereal blend well with other foods and are ideal for thickening breastmilk or infant formula. They don’t form clumps or alter the flavor of other foods either. 

Gentle on the digestive system

Oatmeal processed for babies and baby cereal are both gentle on your little one’s digestive system when they’re ready to handle solids from the age of six months old. Babies as young as four months old, if developmentally ready, find it easy to ingest and digest oatmeal and cereal.  

Prevents constipation 

Oatmeal in particular helps to prevent constipation when introducing solids for the first time. It’s high in fiber and acts as a natural laxative by adding bulk to their stools, making bowel movement easier. Whole wheat or barley cereal reduces constipation as well. 

When is it unsafe to feed a baby oatmeal or cereal out of a bottle?

Feeding a baby oatmeal or cereal out of a bottle is unsafe if your infant isn’t ready to digest solids. It’s not recommended to introduce solids to babies under the age of four months. When asking if you can put cereal or oatmeal in their formula, bear in mind that choking is a risk if your baby’s swallowing reflex isn’t properly developed.  

Feeding your baby cereal or oatmeal out of a bottle can increase the risk of allergy formation especially if they’re younger than four months. 

Conclusion

Introducing solids to your baby is an exciting time and you can start with oatmeal or cereal when your infant reaches four to six months old. However, putting these foods into a bottle comes with some risks. Using bottles for thickened formula (and nipples) helps to mitigate choking or gagging hazards. 

If you want to play it safe, let your baby drink breastmilk or formula in a bottle before giving them oatmeal or cereal with a spoon as a way of introducing solids. This way, you can start weaning them off the bottle before transitioning fully to solid foods. Another related food is rusks which you shouldn’t put in baby bottle either.

Here in this article on whether you should give your baby a bottle before or after breakfast, you can find some suggested schedules when introducing solids.

Last update on 2024-03-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Author

I’m Balint, founder of this site and a father (and dad) to a baby-turned toddler. I found the world of babies so fascinating that I started a blog dedicated only to that topic. By the way, I studied physics, engineering (PhD, MSc), and therefore I do a thorough research when I write about something. Since it’s a blog, of course I also write about my personal experiences.

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