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Infant feeding: Should you fill a hungry baby up with rice cereal in a bottle

The question:
My 2-month-old baby is always hungry. Is it okay to put rice cereal in his bottle?

The Pediatrician Answers:
Human infants are supposed to eat frequently; this is normal. Humans are biologically designed to carry their young around and breastfeed them frequently; the normal newborn human nurses 15 times every 24 hours in the early days of life. Human infants do best on smaller more frequent feedings — this supplies plenty of calories for rapid growth, does not overdistend the baby’s stomach, and lets the baby stop eating when he/she is comfortably full.

Artificially fed (bottlefed) infants should conform as much as possible to the normal breastfed feeding pattern. By forcing the baby to take large quantities of fluid and calories at a feeding, the baby may learn to overeat. This may lead to an increased tendency to become obese. Furthermore, the gastrointestinal tract of an infant at 2 months of age is still quite immature; all of the digestive enzymes are not fully developed and large proteins may be absorbed whole instead of being broken into useable components. Absorption of whole proteins is thought to be associated with development of food allergies. The undigestible rice starch could lead to upset stomachs and other digestive difficulties.

For these reasons, I would strongly recommend against adding rice starch to your baby’s bottles. Allow your baby to feed normally; i.e., small, frequent feedings.

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