Baby Oatmeal vs Rice Cereal: Differences and When to Start


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For first-time moms, every new thing can seem confusing and sometimes even a bit scary. New moms are often afraid of making a mistake that could cause distress for our babies.

  • Are you a new mother who is wondering about choosing baby oatmeal vs rice cereal?
  • How do you know what the difference is between the two, and when you should start feeding either of them to your baby?
  • How do you know whether baby oatmeal or rice cereal is best for your baby?
  • Have you found yourself stressing over these types of questions?

Even simple things like feeding your child can cause a bit of worry. It is important to know that this is perfectly normal. Just be aware that it won’t always be this way. You will become more and more confident as your child grows. In the meantime, let’s take a look at what the experts have to say.

What is the Difference Between Baby Oatmeal vs Rice Cereal?

First of all, let’s take a look at some of the differences between baby oatmeal and rice cereal to help us determine if either is better for your baby. Here, we will look at ways in which rice cereal and baby oatmeal are the same or very similar.

How Are Baby Oatmeal vs Rice Cereal Similar?

  1. Both are Safe – Both rice cereal and baby oatmeal are considered by experts to be safe for most babies.
  2. Both are Single-Grain – They are both single-grain instead of multigrain, making them easy for your baby to digest.
  3. Both are Bland and Tolerable – Both rice cereal and baby oatmeal are bland foods, making them easy for almost any baby’s tummy to tolerate.
  4. Both are Easy to Prepare – Both of these baby food choices are easy for the parent or caregiver to prepare.
  5. Both are Nutritional for the Baby – Rice cereal and baby oatmeal also both have nutritional benefits for the baby.
  6. Both are Recommended at the Same Age – Experts recommend that you don’t start feeding either of these choices to your baby until he or she is at least 4 to 6 months old.

How are Baby Oatmeal vs Rice Cereal Different?

While we can see that there are many similarities between baby oatmeal and rice cereal, there are also several differences. Let’s take a look at some of them.

  1. They are Made From Different Grains – While baby oatmeal is made the oat grains, rice cereal, just as it sounds, is made from rice grains.
  2. They Taste Different – Although rice cereal is said to have a very bland taste, baby oatmeal has more of a nutty taste.
  3. Allergy Risks – Rice cereal seems to post no allergy risks but baby oatmeal could cause allergies in some babies.
  4. They Have Different Textures – While rice cereal is very smooth and creamy in texture when mixed with milk, baby oatmeal has a grainier texture.
  5. Rice Cereal Should be Limited – Because rice cereal has been shone to have greater amounts of arsenic than previously known, it is advised that you give it to your baby less than 5 times per week.

How Do You Know If Your Baby is Ready for Solid Foods?

Many new mothers wonder how they will know when their baby is ready to move from strictly formula or breast milk and on to more solid foods such as rice cereal or baby oatmeal. How do you know if your baby is ready to introduce these foods into his or her diet?

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents and caregivers to introduce these foods only after their baby has reached the ages of 4 to 6 months.

But how do you know for sure that your baby is ready?

  • Before giving solid foods to your baby, he or she should be able to sit up on their own, with very little to no support from you.
  • Your baby should be able to hold his or her head up with no help from you.
  • If your baby is reaching for your plate or spoon during mealtime, he or she may be ready for solid foods.
  • Always speak to your child’s doctor about whether or not your baby is ready to introduce new foods.

What Are Some Tips for Introducing Baby Oatmeal and Rice Cereal?

As we mentioned before, it can be scary for new moms to introduce something into their baby’s diet that he or she has never eaten before. While baby oatmeal is more nutritious, it also has a better chance of causing allergies for the baby.

Because of this, it may be a good idea to start with rice cereal to make sure that your baby is tolerating it well. Breast milk or formula should still be the main source of nutrition for your little one until he or she is at least one year old. There are some tips to follow that could make things easier for the baby and for you.

  • Offer your baby rice cereal or baby oatmeal only after he or she has had regular breast milk or formula for a meal. This prevents the baby from making solid food its main source of nutrition too early.
  • Never leave your baby feeding alone, whether the baby is eating milk or rice cereal or baby oatmeal. If the baby starts to choke or has an allergic reaction, you will need to be close by.
  • Only introduce one type of solid food at the time. If you fed your baby rice cereal for the first time this morning, don’t introduce him or her to baby oatmeal tonight. Give it a day or two so that you can monitor for reactions or tummy upset.
  • Do try to introduce spoon feeding at this time. Mix a little of the rice cereal or baby oatmeal with your breast milk or formula and see if your baby will eat it off of a baby spoon.

But How Do You Know Which is Best for Your Child?

There are often various circumstances that could make the difference in whether to choose rice cereal or baby oatmeal for your baby. If your child has a greater chance of food allergy, for example, then baby oatmeal might not be the best choice just yet. Your doctor can let you know what to do if this is an issue. On the other hand, if you are worried about the risk of arsenic from rice cereals, then you might decide baby oatmeal if the best choice after all.

Other factors could help you to decide whether to introduce your baby to rice cereal or baby oatmeal first. Here are a few reasons for choosing each.

  1. Choose Oatmeal for Acid Reflux – If your baby is suffering from acid reflux, you should talk to your doctor about ways to help prevent it. Your doctor may suggest feeding the baby a thicker substance than formula or breast milk to try and keep the food down. In these cases, it is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics that you choose baby oatmeal because it is thicker and does not contain arsenic.
  2. Rice Cereal is a Good First Choice – Unless you have been otherwise advised by your doctor, rice cereal is a good choice for the baby’s first taste of solid food. Ironically, it is the lack of taste that makes this true. The blander taste and smoother texture of rice cereal make it less likely to upset your baby’s tummy.
  3. Baby Oatmeal Has More Flavor – If your baby took one taste of rice cereal and tried to spit it out, it could be that he or she wants something with a bit more flavor. Introducing baby oatmeal just might do the trick in these cases because of its nutty taste.
  4. Rice Cereal has Less Flavor – After the last entry, it would seem that this is a negative aspect, but for some babies, having less flavor is a good thing. Some infants simply do not like new things and must be introduced to solid foods slowly. Since rice cereal has almost no flavor, the baby will taste the milk that he or she is used to, and be more likely to accept it this way.
  5. Baby Oatmeal is Packed with Nutrition – Even when made with water, baby oatmeal has vitamins and minerals that can help aid in your baby’s development and growth. The fiber content can also help keep your baby from becoming constipated. Rice cereal also has nutrients but not as many.
  6. Rice Cereal is Easier to Swallow – If your baby seems to have a hard time trying to swallow the thicker baby oatmeal, rice cereal may be a better choice for him or her for now. Rice cereal is much thinner, almost the consistency of milk, making it much easier for a baby to take in without choking.

In Closing

As you can see, there are valid reasons for trying both rice cereal and baby oatmeal for your baby. While introducing new things can be a bit tricky sometimes, baby’s first solid foods can help them to sleep longer, feel more satisfied, and grow healthier. As always, talk to your doctor about which choices are the best for your baby.