Baby deserves only the best, but how do you know which cereal will be the best?
My top choice no matter your baby’s age is the Happy Baby Organic Probiotic Baby Cereal for a lot of reasons you will see below. But keep reading for some other great options for young and old babies alike!
One of the finest moments as a parent is the moment when you finally get to give your baby solids. There’s nothing quite as exciting as watching your baby try and figure out that mushy baby cereal for the first time. Since baby cereal is what they recommend you start with, it’s really important to pick the right one. Whether this is baby’s first go with solid food or they’ve been eating solid food for a while, you can find them the right baby cereal.
Best Baby Cereal for 2018
Best Baby Cereal for Beginning Solids (4 to 6 months)
For years, everyone from doctors to Grandma’s recommended that you start with plain rice cereal. In light of recent evidence against rice cereal, now the experts suggest that you simply feed baby a food that’s easy to digest and contains good amounts of iron. That’s why a single grain cereal is the best choice for a first food, and my favorite single grain cereal is this oatmeal cereal from Happy Baby.
I like oatmeal because it’s a little bit more hearty than rice cereal. You can make it thicker, which is nice for babies with a bit of reflux because they’ll be able to keep it down more easily.
This particular oatmeal offers a nice fluffy texture and it mixes really well. I’ve used both breast milk and water, and I’ve had great results both times. But oatmeal offers more nutrition than a rice cereal does.
It’s not a white carb like most cereals- it’s a complex carbohydrate. This gives your baby the advantage of prolonged energy and feeling full for longer. Getting used to these kinds of carbs from the start sets them up for healthier choices later on.
The Right Nutrients for Smaller Babies
Food at such a young age is all about nutrition. Taste takes a back seat to nourishing our babies’ bodies. This organic oatmeal baby cereal is not short on nutrients, and the taste isn’t too bad, either! In addition to the B, C, and D Vitamins, here’s the best of the best nutrients in this cereal:
- Iron: One serving of Happy Baby Oatmeal has 50% of the daily recommended value for iron. This is more than the 40% that most other baby cereals have.
- Choline: This nutrient supports brain and eye health. Since this nutrient is so important to natural processes in the brain, it makes a good supplement to baby cereals. One serving of Happy Baby has 25g of choline.
- Calcium: 20% of your baby’s daily calcium needs are found in this cereal. As we all know, babies need calcium to help them build strong bones and teeth.
- Zinc: Not getting enough zinc can lead to stunted growth in children. This nutrient is essential to growth and function of the immune system as well. Babies get 35% of their daily intake from this cereal.
- Probiotics: Oatmeal, and all baby cereals for that matter, can often constipate your baby. It can lead to some other tummy troubles, like gas and bloating, too. Happy Baby puts 5 different probiotics in their oatmeal cereal to make it easy on baby’s tummy. Not only will they be more easily able to digest the oatmeal, but the build-up of beneficial bacterial will help them to feel better as they process all their foods.
- BONUS- Alpha amylase: This is a substance that’s usually made in the pancreas, but is found in short supply in infants. It helps to break down the saccharin chains in long starches. It’s included in this cereal as yet another aid for proper digestion.
What They’ve Left Out
This brand will always be one of my favorites, and their baby cereal is no exception. Happy Baby puts real thought into their food. You won’t find any GMOs in this cereal. There’s no BPA in the packaging. As for the food itself, there’s no added salts, sugars, colors, or artificial flavors.
You’re left with nothing but milled oats and some awesome nutrients. And while it’s not the most flavorful thing you could make, it’s a good starting point for baby’s first food. You can confidently feed this wonderful food to your baby every day!
Video: Why It’s Healthy
Best for Beginning Solids (4 to 6 months)
What would a baby cereal review be without a glimpse at Gerber baby food? This stuff has been a staple in many households for generations. While some people shy away from single grain rice cereal due to arsenic concerns (see note at the end), some people rely on a very easy to digest grain like white rice. If you want a simple option to start your baby on, then Gerber is a great, affordable baby cereal option.
White Rice Can Be Nice
Now, I am saying this knowing full well what the other options are, but for some babies, white rice is the best choice. Putting all of the controversy surrounding the nutrition, white rice is really easy to digest. Yes, it’s bland. Yes, it’s not the most nutritious grain out there. But for babies that just need help keeping something down, white rice is a great choice. It’s very gentle on little tummies and it’s not likely to cause an allergic reaction. This particular cereal is organic, so arsenic isn’t as big of a concern.
This is a good option for your baby’s very, very first solid food. Mixed with a little breast milk, formula, or water, it offers great nutrition for a 4 to 6 month old baby.
- Iron: One serving of this cereal gives baby 45% of their daily iron need. That’s important as baby begins to look to solid foods to fulfil those iron needs.
- VitaBlocks Blend: This is Gerber’s exclusive blend of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc, and 6 B Vitamins. Each of these vitamins will promote healthy growth of all your baby’s body systems, including the immune system.
- Calcium: What better time to get calcium than when bones and teeth are growing like crazy! This cereal has 20% of your baby’s suggested calcium intake.
- Choline: I’ve talked about it earlier, but the 15mg of choline in each serving of organic Gerber cereal gives your baby’s brain a boost.
A Good, Not Great Choice
I love that this cereal is organic. It’s also non-GMO, has zero salt, and zero added sugars. So now that the scary stuff is gone, we can focus on taste and texture. This is bland, bland, bland! A baby with an adventurous palate will probably reject this unless you add some flavor with some fruit or veggies. The texture is okay- not as fine as other rice cereals, but dissolves without too much problem. I’ve learned that letting the rice cereal sit in the liquid for a few minutes gives a smoother finished product. As with all rice cereals, beware the back-up, aka cereal-induced constipation!
Best for Beginning Solids (4 to 6 months)
This cereal isn’t well know, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not well made. I will admit that this stuff is pricey, so it’s probably best suited for a baby that only eats rice cereal once a day or so. The price, combined with the nutritional profile, makes this cereal an amazing choice for a first food for your little.
Quinoa: The Grainy Breast Milk Equivalent
Quinoa has all essential and nonessential amino acids, proteins, vitamins, iron, and is a real-life superfood. This makes it an ideal first (and forever!) food for your baby. I can’t sing quinoa’s praises enough. It’s like the perfect addition to a breastfed baby’s diet because it mimics what they’ve already been getting. Plus, it’s a perfect starter grain because it’s hypoallergenic and gluten-free, so it won’t rock your tiny baby’s tummy.
This grainy cereal from WutsupBaby has it all, and the addition of carrot only makes the whole thing healthier.
- Omega Fatty Acids: This cereal has omega-3s, -6s, and -9s. These play an important role in brain and eye development, and support cellular function as well.
- Prebiotics and Fiber: Nothing has to be added to this cereal to give it better digestability- the drum dehydration of the quinoa retains the grain’s natural prebiotics and fiber. This makes it easily absorbed and less likely to cause constipation.
- Protein: Quinoa is a complete protein, so it’ll help support the muscles and organs of your growing baby.
- Vitamins and Trace Minerals: Let’s not forget the good stuff! This cereal is a good source of Vitamins A, B and E in this cereal, as well as magnesium and zinc.
Nothing Added, Nothing Lost
So this cereal has 2 ingredients: quinoa and carrots. Both are non-GMO and organic. There is no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. There’s no salts, no sugars, and nothing to get in the way of a simple, and nutritious food. Now, the carrots do add a bit of flavor, so be prepared for that. It’s not as bland as other cereals. And the texture is very fine and powder-like, which I personally love for rice cereal. Less lumps means a happier baby. Big downside here: the price! It’s only available in these travel packs. They’re convenient, but they are expensive. Not a good choice for a baby who likes to down a bunch of cereal.
Older babies simply have different nutritional needs than younger babies. From the time of baby starts solids, to the time they get really good at eating solids, they will be needing different foods to both fill them up and nourish them. Older babies depend more on food than milk for their nutrient intake. When single grain cereal becomes bland, and baby’s food repertoire becomes larger, this quinoa based-baby cereal is fantastic.
Super Grain for Super Growth
Quinoa has been known as a superfood for centuries- it’s always been known to be nutritionally dense. Babies in particular can benefit from this grain, as it is a complete protein on it’s own. It has all the essential and nonessential amino acids that are the important building blocks for our bodies, and especially our muscles and brain.
It actually has a nutritional profile that’s similar to breast milk, so it gives your baby exactly what they need as they get older. That makes it a really great food during weaning. You’ll know that your baby is getting similar nutrition without having to continue nursing or bottle feeding.
The organic quinoa in this cereal offers 100% plant-based nutrition for your baby. The lack of synthetic nutrients in NuturMe is what causes the cereal to be so easily digestible. Plus, it has a plant fiber that acts as an active prebiotic, which also helps with digesting this grain. It actually has a full serving of probiotics for baby.
Plant-based nutrients are more easily absorbed by your baby, too. So even though quinoa seems sophisticated for your baby, it’s actually an ideal food for older babies. Here’s some other great things that can be found in this cereal:
- Iron: This cereal is fortified with organic iron. And while it doesn’t provide as much iron as some of the other cereals (only 11% of the daily recommended intake), I like that it’s organic iron from a natural source.
- Antioxidants: The naturally-sourced vitamins and minerals in this cereal come from plants that are also really high in antioxidants to keep baby’s immune system healthy.
- Fiber: This grain has more fiber than most other single grains. Important for babies that might have issues with constipation from eating solid foods.
- Vitamins and Minerals: You’ll find all of the B vitamins, as well as vitamin A, D, and other minerals like magnesium, zinc, and potassium in this cereal. And none of them are synthetic.
- No allergens!: This cereal is free from gluten, dairy, soy, and egg. So while I like it for older babies, it could be a good food earlier on, too.
Flavor for an Advanced Palate
As baby gets older, they’ll start developing their own tastes for food. You might notice that your baby likes or dislikes certain foods. And baby cereal is no different. That’s why I like that this brand comes in several different flavors.
My baby’s favorite flavor was the Apple flavor. It gave the quinoa just enough sweetness for her to like it better than the plain quinoa alone. There are two other flavored varieties: banana and raisin sweet potato. They are both wonderful. If you prefer to just make your own flavored baby cereal, you can buy the plane organic quinoa baby cereal from NurturMe and you will still get the same benefits. Just add in the baby food of your choice and mix.
This baby food makes a great thickener for some of the run your varieties of baby food, especially the fruits. But one note about this cereal: you have to mix it really well. I recommend a ratio of one tablespoon of quinoa cereal to 2 tablespoons of liquid of your choice.
Also, make sure the liquid is warm. If you use a cold liquid, you will end up with a lumpy, cement-looking mixture. Having a fork or a tiny whisk to really get a smooth consistency won’t hurt either. You can also add this as an extra protein in almost any baby/toddler meal. It’s very versatile!
Best for Older Babies (6 months and up)
We’ve talked about how more advanced and complex grains are great for an older baby’s palate and diet. Well, this multigrain cereal is not short on any grains, texture, or flavor. Even though it’s more complex, it’s still very easy for baby to digest. It still has a finer texture too, so it’s easy to mix into just about anything. A great choice for a baby cereal-eating pro.
Many Grains Make Happy the Baby
This baby cereal is a mix of oats, spelt (a type of hulled wheat), and barley. Oats alone are an easy-to-digest, complex carbohydrate. Add in an ancient wheat grain called spelt, which is like a healthier, nuttier tasting wheat grain, and good old barley and you have a great mix. All three of these are high in fiber, which should offset the added iron’s ability to make baby constipated. All three of these are hearty and will fill up an older child, no problem.
Nutrition for Your Almost-Toddler
This cereal has really important nutrients that an older, more active baby would need to fuel their day.
- Zinc: This wonderful mineral helps your body’s immune system. It helps build proteins and DNA, so it’s crucial when baby is growing so quickly. This has 25% of need daily zinc.
- 6 B Vitamins: These vitamins support the nervous system, but more importantly, they are used to help convert food to energy- something your toddling baby needs! You’ll find 25% of each B vitamin’s recommended daily intake in Earth’s Best.
- Iron: Without enough iron, your blood cells just can’t do what they need to do. Iron deficiency can stunt growth and keep baby from reaching his or her next milestone. 45% of daily iron needs can be met with just one serving of cereal.
- Protein: 2 grams of protein doesn’t seem like much, but that’s actually 9% of baby’s daily needs. That will help their muscles and body grow.
Best for Earth and Baby
One of the big benefits of using Earth’s Best baby cereal is the fact that it really is good for baby. They add all the nutrients that tots need without adding any preservatives, salt, sugar, flavoring, or colors. This baby cereal is best for the earth, too. It isn’t made using controversial GMOs and it’s completely organic. No pesticides to harm the environment or your growing child. That means it’s good for everyone, including you. You can get this all at a reasonable price and you can rest assured that your baby will like the flavor and thicker texture and heartier flavor.
Best for Older Babies (6 months and up)
Barley sounds like something you’d put it a stew, not give to your baby. But with the growing concerns over rice cereal, barley is becoming a more popular choice for baby cereal. This particular cereal contains organic barley, which is easy to digest and perfect for big tummies and little tummies alike.
This was a popular grain for hundreds of years. Barley is actually one of the more nutritious grains. It contains lots of fiber, which helps keep your baby’s gut healthy. Consuming barley used to be a common remedy for constipation, so you won’t have to worry about this grain backing your baby up. This is also a single grain, so it’s good for certain sensitivities, like acid reflux.
So why would this be best suited for a baby over 6 months? Well for starters, barley has a strong flavor. Unlike bland rice cereal, barley baby cereal has it’s own taste, and a more experienced eater is less likely to reject it. Also, barley does contain some gluten. If you worry about a gluten allergy in your child, it’s always best to wait until they are a little older to test out glutiny grains on them.
Barley’s Nutrient Powerhouse
I’ve already mentioned that barley is one of the better grains for nourishing your growing baby. Here’s why this cereal is good for your kiddo.
- Iron: This cereal is fortified with iron to help your baby grow. Since barley has trace amounts of phosphorous, your child can better absorb the 45% of daily iron in this cereal.
- Copper: There isn’t a daily recommended intake for copper, but it is a useful nutrient. It occurs naturally in barley and helps with iron digestion and absorption.
- Calcium and Vitamin D: These nutrients have been added to help your baby’s bones. Remember that Vitamin D helps the calcium be absorbed. Your kiddo will get 15% of their calcium needs and 10% of their Vitamin D needs in one serving.
- Vitamins and minerals: This barley cereal is a great source of B vitamins (25% of daily intake each!) as well as zinc (20%). This will keep baby’s immune system healthy.
Basic Formula with No Fillers
Healthy Baby’s organic baby cereal is so good for baby. But it’s not good for your wallet. This is pretty pricey, even if you can order it in bulk. But you are paying for a pure, organic barley baby cereal. It’s got no soy, no dairy, no GMOs, and even BPA-free packaging. Although it’s one of the more expensive options, it mixes so well in cold or warm liquids that it’s worth it. No chunks or leftover flakes with this tasty cereal. Your older baby is sure to love it.
A Note About Rice Cereal
Now that I have revealed my picks for my favorite baby cereals, I want to talk about why rice cereal only made the list one time. Maybe you’ve heard about the arsenic concerns for baby cereals. Arsenic occurs when crops grow because it is absorbed from the irrigation water used to grow crops.
Rice crops take a lot of water, and therefore absorbs a lot of the inorganic arsenic that’s been accumulating in the ground and water. Arsenic found in baby cereal is dangerous because it can have a negative impact on the central nervous system, including the brain and nerves. It can even cause learning difficulties later in life. According to a study done by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a baby who eats 2 full servings of a baby cereal containing arsenic can double their risk of cancer over their lifetime. No parent wants to inadvertently do that to their kid. Organic and non-GMO baby cereals made from other grains pose no such risk. That’s why I shy away from inorganic white rice cereal.