Contrary to popular belief, grains should not be introduced before 8 or 9 months of age. I know, I know… your pediatrician, grandmother, and even strangers will insist that rice cereal is perfectly fine, even before 6 months. I once had a home depot employee follow me through the store trying to convince me that rice cereal would make Isabella begin sleeping through the night. But it’s just not true.
It takes a while for baby’s gut flora to develop. Exclusive breastfeeding through 6 months is critical in this process. And until baby is 8 or 9 months old, they haven’t developed enough of the enzymes necessary to fully digest grains. So while you can buy cereal labeled “4 months and up” at the grocery store, it doesn’t mean it’s good for her to eat.
I know plenty of parents who have struggled with fussy, colicky, gassy, constantly-spitting-up babies for months and can’t figure out what the problem is. I’m willing to bet that in many cases, cutting out grains (and other foods that aren’t age appropriate) would do wonders for solving the problem.
When preparing grains, soak them overnight to improve their digestability. I usually add double the amount of water recommended and simmer them slowly until all the water is gone. Sometimes I’ll even pulse the mixture a few times in my food processor before jarring it or adding it to other purees.
Every baby is different. Some may be able to digest grains just fine at 6 months, while others may be 12 months or older before they can digest them without being uncomfortable. This is why it’s so important to introduce foods one at a time and note if baby is showing any signs of sensitivity.
As a side note, rice cereal doesn’t necessarily help a baby to sleep all night. Isabella didn’t start doing that till she was almost a year old, well after she began eating whole grains.