If you’re in a hurry to know our pick for best baby cereal, we recommend Gerber’s Single-Grain Oatmeal Baby Cereal as the best one.
If you want to learn why and see our other picks, continue on ahead!
Any educated parent knows that good nutrition for your growing child is paramount. Cereal is one of the most loved breakfast foods in the United States, and with good reason – it’s fast, easy, and fortified with healthy ingredients for growing kids.
Logically, it’s just as important to choose the best cereal for infants, as well. We’ll review several of the strongest contenders in this article.
Here is the list of best baby cereal we have reviewed:
- Happy Baby Organic Superfood Puffs Assortment Variety Packs 2.1 Ounce (Pack of 6)
- Earth’s Best Organic Stage 2 Baby Food, Apple Peach and Oatmeal, 4.2 oz. Pouch (Pack of 12)
- Gerber Single-Grain Oatmeal Baby Cereal, 8 oz (Pack of 6)
- Sprout Organic Stage 2 Baby Food Pouches, Banana Brown Rice w/ Cinnamon, 4 Ounce (Pack of 10)
- 8x Organic Original Quinoa Infant & Baby Cereal Travel Packs w/Naturally Occurring Omega 3, 6, 9 Protein, Iron, Magnesium, B2. Easiest First Foods to Digest.
Additionally, if you’d like an introduction to different types of baby cereals, check out this video:
When to Start with Baby Cereal
According to Mayo Clinic, your baby should not be eating solid foods until they’re at least four months old, but solid food readiness can occur anywhere between four and six months. At that point, they can start eating other foods in addition to milk or formula.
If you feed baby solid foods before this age, it can increase their chances of developing food allergies.
The American Academy of Pediatrics at healthychildren.orgrecommends looking out for certain developmental signs that show your baby is prepared for solid foods. The first one to watch out for is the ability for baby to hold their head up straight on their own for extended periods. The second cue is the ability to sit up straight on their own.
When your baby can hold up their body and head on their own, they’re often ready to accept solid foods. However, you should also keep an eye on your baby’s weight – once they’ve doubled their original weight, they’re typically big enough to try solid foods. The last clue is baby’s mannerisms. When baby starts taking a visible interest in food, they’re often ready and willing to try new things!
Benefits of Baby Cereal
Baby cereals provide benefits that other foods might not be able to. For example, the many combinations of fruits, vegetables, and grains available for baby cereals provide an unmatched source of variety in their diet, and grains in particular provide unique health benefits.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends, when your baby is ready, not to shy away from variety in baby’s diet. Introducing your baby to many different tastes and textures early on can help prevent pickiness as they grow.
However, keep in mind that your baby may not respond well to new foods right away! Take it slow, and try several times before giving up on new baby food. Dr. David Hill at AAP recommends trying a new flavor ten to fifteen times before giving up on it.
It’s essential that your baby gets the unique nutrients that come from different foods, especially when they’re growing quickly. However, don’t introduce more than one new food at a time.
The difference in textures from different grains, vegetables, and fruits, even pureed, will help your child acclimate to different tastes and mouth feels as they develop.
Baby cereals are an excellent source of nutrition and texture in a baby’s diet. Rice cereal, in particular, provides zinc and iron to the baby, two essential nutrients that formula and milk do not provide enough of at this age. Other traditional cereal grains, like oats and barley, are also healthy baby favorites.
Keep in mind that baby cereals and adult cereals are not equal. At six months of age, the baby shouldn’t be exposed to any foods that require chewing or teeth. Thus, baby cereals will, for the most part, be pureed or otherwise softened enough for them to eat.
For many years, moms have put puffed rice cereal in a baby’s bottle with their formula or milk to buff calories and the feeling of fullness. However, according to the AAP, this is no longer recommended for most infants. Rice cereal mixed with milk can pose a choking hazard for baby.
However, if your baby is colicky or diagnosed with GERD (gastrointestinal reflux disease), rice cereal in milk can help. GERD can cause babies to spit up much of their formula. The added rice cereal helps it stay down, but it can also cause over-fullness, weight gain, and fatigue from digestion in addition to the choking hazard, so it’s not recommended for normal babies.
As long as you introduce baby cereals in conjunction with plenty of vegetables and other nutritious foods, they make up part of a healthy diet. Over-eating of grains is not good for any baby, especially while their digestive system is still in development.
However, actively avoiding them encourages the development of food allergies later on. The most important thing to do is to find a healthy middle ground.
What to Look for When Choosing Your Best Baby Cereal
We’ve already covered a few points to consider when choosing baby cereals. Variety, for example, is an important thing to maintain in baby’s diet to discourage pickiness as they grow. However, don’t jump between new flavors and textures right away, either. Give baby some time to get used to each new choice, and if one doesn’t go over well the first time, try and try again!
As with any diet, you should look for balanced nutrition in baby cereals. Consider cereals that may already contain added ingredients like fruits or vegetables, unless you plan to add them yourself. These pre-mixed cereals will help maintain balanced nutrition and variety in baby’s diet.
Additionally, look for baby cereals and foods that are high in iron. Iron is one of the most critical additive nutrients when your baby is about six months of age. If you plan to buy baby foods without iron, or if you plan to make your own, make sure to add iron-rich foods like meat to baby’s diet, as well.
If you plan to have a “staple” baby cereal that you feed your baby often, it’s important to find a well-balanced, low sugar cereal that’s palatable for baby. Extra sugary cereals are, understandably, not ideal for baby’s health. They can cause weight gain, overexcitement, and difficulty sleeping.
A diet of extra sugary foods also promotes pickiness. Babies will always prefer sugary foods over non-sugary ones, so it’s best to introduce them to plain flavors first and keep sugary snacks as a special reward or treat.
Baby cereals are grain-based for the most part, and deciding which grain (or assortment of them) is best for your baby is up to you. Again, variety is always key, and each grain provides different benefits and drawbacks. Rice, for example, is a grain that absorbs unusually high levels of arsenic as it grows. While a small amount of arsenic won’t harm your baby, it’s best to feed them rice-based foods in moderation.
Convenience and Preparation Time
You will generally have access to three classes of baby cereals: ready-to-eat, instant, and homemade. Homemade cereals will take the longest to make and will generally be cheapest. To make them, you’ll usually want to grind the grains yourself in a blender, then add other ingredients.
Homemade cereals allow you the most control over the components, but they can be missing nutrients that store-bought fortified cereals have, such as iron.
Instant cereals are the next option for baby cereals, and they are nearly as versatile as homemade. They cost slightly more, though, and are fortified with extra nutrients. Instant cereals are usually faster than homemade, as well. Homemade cereal requires cooking over a stove, generally for about ten minutes. Instant cereals typically take only one minute.
Ready-to-eat cereals are the most convenient, but you also get the least product for the cost. Like the instant variety, ready-to-eat cereals are generally fortified with iron and other nutrients, and often have additional fruits or vegetables added in for flavor. They also have the least flexibility with adding your own ingredients. We recommend them for meals on-the-go, but not for frequent home consumption.
Best Baby Cereal Reviews
In this section, we’ve reviewed several excellent baby cereal options for you to consider. Check them all out below.
These superfood puffs are more of a snack food than a true cereal, but they come packed with nutrients and flavors that baby will like. While the snacks are soft, we would advise caution in feeding them to babies that haven’t yet grown teeth.
Crushing or breaking them into small pieces for less-developed children may be an option if you like the snack.
The manufacturer recommends that these snacks be fed to a baby after they can crawl with their belly fully off the ground. Keep this developmental stage in mind when buying the snack, as well as other cues we mentioned above. These snacks are also certified organic, and when the baby can use their hands to eat on their own, they become an even more convenient snack.
However, you should be aware that Consumer Reports recently covered a study that detected large amounts of heavy metals in this and other products. Consumer Reports disclaims in the article that their findings are “a spot check of the market, and cannot be used to draw definitive conclusions about specific brands.”
You can read over the article here if you wish to draw your own conclusions.
- Certified organic
- Full of nutrients like choline, vitamins C, E, and B12, and antioxidants
- Made without cane syrup
- Easy for baby to eat on their own when they’re ready
- No added sugars
- Comes in several different flavors
- May not be suitable for babies just starting solid foods
- More of a snack than a true cereal
- Concerning reports about heavy metal
This Earth’s Best baby food contains apples, peaches, and oatmeal, all pre-packaged and ready to serve to baby. The package itself is BPA-free, baby friendly, and easy to use – baby just drinks from the straw at the top! The pouch is also resealable, so what your baby doesn’t finish can be placed in the fridge for later.
The cereal food in this pouch is also USDA certified organic and non-GMO, has no modified food starches, and has no artificial colors or flavors. However, the single-serve pouches are expensive compared to instant and homemade. It’s much cheaper to buy instant baby food or to make your own from fresh ingredients, but these are well-priced as far as ready packs go.
If you can stomach the price, the utensil-free pouch provides the ultimate convenience, especially on the go. When the baby can hold things on their own, this pouch becomes even more convenient – just be careful to keep the cap away from your child, as it could pose a choking hazard.
- No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
- USDA certified organic and non-GMO
- No modified food starches
- Convenient, single-serve pouches
- Resealable pouch
- Comes in different varieties
- Relatively inexpensive for a ready-to-eat pouch
- Contains added sugars
Gerber’s single-grain baby oatmeal is a great staple to keep around the house. Oats are a grain that you can safely feed to baby every day, and the cereal just needs water added to be ready to eat. The plastic package is resealable and contains several servings.
While this oatmeal requires a bit more prep time than the ready-to-eat pouches, you get more product for the price. It also takes much less time to prepare and cook than homemade cereals do, making this a great middle ground. It’s non-GMO, but not organic. This baby cereal is fortified with important nutrients for baby like iron, vitamins A, C, and E, calcium, B-vitamins, and zinc.
All in all, this baby cereal is a great choice as an everyday staple for baby, especially on a budget. However, keep in mind that oat-based cereals are not as stomach-friendly as some other grains. Overeating of oats tends to cause issues like constipation in some babies with finicky digestive systems.
- Suitable for everyday eating
- very budget-friendly; you get a lot of bang for your buck
- easy to prepare
- nutritionally supplemented with vitamins and minerals
- Not organic
- Oats can cause constipation in some babies
Sprout’s resealable baby food pouches are another great snack or meal for the baby on the go. In contrast to our other ready-to-eat pouch, though, this one contains no added sugars and is full of potassium and magnesium (however, this can vary by flavor – this is for the banana and brown rice variety).
Keep in mind that these have a slightly smaller serving size for a higher price than the other pre-made cereal pouches we reviewed.
Having no added sugars is an excellent bonus for baby’s health. As little added sugar as possible is best, but this can be hard to achieve with all the sweet and sugary products on the market today. The fact that Sprout’s baby cereal pouches have no added sugars puts them a cut above the rest in our opinion.
The baby food is also organic and non-GMO. Organic and GMO certifications aren’t important to all parents, but when available, they’re good to watch for in your baby’s food. If food is certified organic, you know that there’s less chance of it being contaminated by pesticides or chemicals.
These certifications often also mean an increased price, so if budget is a concern of yours, look for non-organic and GMO alternatives that may be cheaper.
- Certified organic and non-GMO
- No additives, preservatives, fillers, or concentrates
- Convenient pouch, great for on-the-go
- Comes in several varieties
- No added sugars
- Excellent source of potassium and magnesium
- Taste good (even according to adults!)
- More expensive than our other ready-to-eat pouch
- Contains rice, so should not be given every day (different varieties may not include rice)
This quinoa baby cereal caught our eye because of how nutritionally available it is. It comes packed with vitamins E and B6, as well as essential nutrients like protein, iron, magnesium, and omega 3s. It’s also very gentle on baby’s digestive system – if you can get them to eat it!
Many babies don’t like the characteristic “quinoa” smell, especially if they’ve been introduced to more palatable foods first.
This version can be largely avoided, however, by introducing this food to baby early on. The quinoa grain is especially good for babies who don’t tolerate other grains well. Quinoa doesn’t cause the same constipation and gas that other grains like rice and oats can. If you’re successful, it may well be the best infant cereal available because of its tummy-friendly properties.
You can mitigate the quinoa taste and smell by mixing it with other things, like milk, soup, fruit, or other grains. Despite requiring a bit more effort than the ready-to-eat pouches, it’s much more versatile. However, it’s not as convenient or portable.
Keep in mind that, while this instant product is more expensive per ounce than ready pouches, adding milk or water to instant products results in more food when they mix! Although this is expensive as far as instant mixes go since it’s a specialty grain, it does end up being less costly than ready-to-eat pouches.
- Free of artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives
- Certified organic and non-GMO
- Gentle on sensitive tummies
- Rich in vitamins, amino acids, and prebiotics
- Versatile – can be combined with milk, soup, juice, fruits, formula, and others
- Flavor and smell may bother some babies
- Less expensive than ready-to-eat pouches, but not by much
After reviewing the above products, one is obviously the clear winner. Gerber’s oat cereal is nutritionally sound, easy to prepare, and the most affordable pick of the bunch. It’s also suitable to be fed to baby every day, although we recommend supplementing it with fruits, vegetables, or other grains to help prevent constipation and other digestive concerns. However, it’s not organic.
We’re deeming WutsupBaby’s Quinoa cereal our best organic baby cereal, and, to promote acceptance of the taste, the best baby cereal to start with, too. However, Gerber’s Single-Grain Oatmeal is a great choice as well, especially as a budget pick. While WutsupBaby’s Quinoa cereal measures up nutritionally, it’s more expensive and less palatable. Gerber’s oat cereal is more palatable and cheaper, but less tummy-friendly.
However, as far as convenience goes, Sprout Organic’s instant food pouches are also a solid choice. They’re significantly more expensive, but their convenience on the go can’t be beaten. For that reason, they deserve a place on our best-of list, too.