Baby Vomiting After Eating Rice Cereal | Is This Okay?

| Reviewed By Amanda Lundberg, BSN, RN

It can be thrilling when your child reaches the stage of transitioning from breastmilk or formula to solid foods. However, introducing new foods may not always go as planned.

Certain foods can cause reactions that leave us looking for answers about what went wrong.

Why does my baby throw up after eating rice cereal? There are several reasons that could explain your child’s vomiting after eating rice cereal. He may still be too young to handle solid foods, be experiencing an allergic reaction, have consumed too much at once, be suffering from reflux or gastroenteritis, or have excess air in the stomach.

Babies react to different foods for many reasons, and rice cereal is no exception. Learn all you need to know about rice cereal and when and how to introduce it to your child.

Vomiting Rice Cereal – 8 Reasons Why

If the introduction of rice cereal to your child’s diet leads to vomiting, here are the most common reasons why.

1. Baby Is Too Young

You shouldn’t feed your baby anything except breastmilk and formula for the first six months of life. If your child was premature, you may need to wait even longer before introducing solids. Check with your doctor if you have any doubts.

If you introduce rice cereal too early, it can cause stomach pain for your baby because his digestive system isn’t ready to handle it.

Babies have tiny tummies, and the rice cereal can simply be more than they need that early.

2. Allergic Reaction

Your child may have an allergy to rice or something that is in the rice. This can cause vomiting as well as other symptoms such as swelling and rashes.

If you suspect food allergies, stop feeding your child rice cereal and contact your doctor.

3. Overfeeding

Babies are not tiny adults. While overeating isn’t a fun experience for anyone, it can be especially painful for babies. If your child is given too much rice cereal, vomiting may be the only way for him to get it out of his system.

Make sure not to offer your child too much at one meal, and pay attention to signs that your child is full and wants to stop eating.

4. Reflux

Reflux is a common issue for infants that leads food in your child’s stomach to come back out the way it came in originally.

Reflux can occur after any food, and it usually is not serious and will go away as your child ages and their digestive system matures.

5. Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis occurs when an infection causes the stomach and the bowels to become inflamed. This can cause vomiting, and you will need to see your doctor so your child can receive treatment that will lead to relief.

6. Contaminated Cereal

Rice cereal, like any food product, can be contaminated and make your baby sick. Rice is already suspect due to high arsenic levels that have been found in it.

There can also be an issue when rice is being manufactured and prepared that leads to further contaminants. If caught, a company will recall a product, but your child may have already ingested it and thrown it up before the recall.

7. Too Much Air in Stomach

Babies get excess air in their stomachs when they cry or gulp from the bottle or breast. While this is common, it can lead to vomiting if a child’s stomach is upset enough when food hits it. 

8. Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome

Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome is rare, but it can definitely cause vomiting in babies who suffer from it.

When the trigger food, such as rice, is given to a child with FPIES, gastrointestinal issues begin. However, your child may not immediately throw up. Children with FPIES may take hours to show signs of a reaction.

Best Position for Vomiting Baby

You don’t want your baby to choke while he’s vomiting, but infants can’t hold up their heads without support.

That means you need to ensure your child is in an upright position when he vomits. Hold him up with his head facing forward so he can get the vomit out of his mouth.

A baby boy with a small amount of spit up on his chin.

Should I Feed Baby After Vomiting?

You can feed your baby after he vomits, but start slowly. You don’t want your child to get dehydrated, so offering breastmilk or formula after they vomit will help ensure they don’t.

However, you don’t want to offer too much right after a child vomits, or they may get sick again. Offer a small amount of breastmilk or formula to see how your child responds before offering more.

When Can You Start Feeding a Baby Rice Cereal?

Rice cereal is not recommended for children who are less than six months old. Their digestive systems aren’t ready, and rice cereal could be a choking hazard for kids who are too young. 

Can I Give My 3-Month-Old Baby Cereal?

It’s not a good idea to give your 3-month-old baby cereal. At 3 months old, your baby should only be ingesting breastmilk or formula.

How Much Rice Cereal for 4-Month-Old?

Ideally, your 4-month-old won’t be eating any rice cereal since pediatricians recommend waiting until a child is 6 months old before giving them food.

If your doctor advises you to give your child rice cereal earlier, they should tell you how much to give.

How Much Rice Cereal for 6-Month-Old?

You don’t want to offer your child too much rice cereal when they are first learning to eat. Simply offer 1-4 tablespoons once a day until your baby gets used to chewing and digesting this new food. 

Is Baby Rice Cereal Hard To Digest?

Baby rice cereal is easy to digest for most babies. Rice was specifically chosen as a first food for babies because it’s not a food that’s likely to cause allergies, and babies can usually process it pretty well.

However, a child can be allergic to any food, and some babies process rice cereal better than others.

Can You Put Rice Cereal in a Bottle?

At least one person has probably told you to put some rice cereal in your child’s bottle to help him sleep longer. However, this is not what the professionals advise.

Rice cereal added to a bottle can cause your child to choke, so pediatricians do not recommend it.

Adding Rice Cereal to Formula for Reflux

When your baby is ready to try rice cereal, add it to your child’s formula in a bowl, not a bottle. Feed your child upright in a high chair to help avoid reflux, and give them a couple of spoonfuls to see how they respond.

If your child has problems swallowing the rice cereal mix, you may want to wait on offering more until some time has passed.

Rice Cereal vs. Oatmeal for Reflux

Oatmeal is what pediatricians recommend if your child has reflux. Oatmeal, like rice, does not contain wheat. That’s a plus because wheat is a top allergen that shouldn’t be introduced to your child too early.

Additionally, oatmeal does not contain high levels of arsenic like rice, so it’s a better option for your little one.

Dangers of Rice Cereal for Babies

Rice cereal does present dangers to babies, especially since it was discovered that rice can contain high levels of arsenic. 

Like any food, rice cereal can also be a choking hazard, so it’s important to monitor meal time every time your child eats.

Arsenic in Baby Rice Cereal

The arsenic levels in baby rice cereal are high enough for the FDA to take note. Ingesting a food that contains a high level of arsenic can lead to cancer or learning problems for kids. 

Alternative to Rice Cereal for Babies

Due to the information available about the dangers of rice cereal to babies, many parents are switching to alternative foods that are just as nourishing but much safer.

Oat cereal is a great alternative that should be easy for your child to digest. Buckwheat cereal does not actually contain any wheat, and that makes it a great choice for those hoping to avoid gluten introduction to their baby. 

You can also opt out of the cereal game and introduce your child to other foods when they are six months old.

Try avocado, pasta, or steamed veggies, and see what your baby likes.

Related Questions:

Can Allergies Cause Vomiting?

Food allergies can cause vomiting, so it’s important to track food as you introduce it to your child to check for reactions. Your child may also vomit when they have sinus issues that lead to excess mucus. 

When Is Baby Vomiting Serious?

Vomiting is serious when your baby cannot hold down any liquids and is at risk of dehydration. If your child isn’t making dirty diapers, refuses breast milk or formula, and is extremely sluggish, you need to seek medical help.

Closing Thoughts

Baby vomit is a part of the parenting journey, but it’s important to know why your child is vomiting and what you can do to make sure they stop.