The Best Baby Cereals of 2024, Tested & Reviewed

Start your baby off on the right step with these organic baby cereals.

a baby sitting in a high chair being spoon-fed baby cereal


tali ditye author mommyhood101  By: Tali Ditye, Ph.D., Co-founder
  Updated: November 30, 2023

Mommyhood101 independently tests and curates baby gear to help you make informed decisions. If you buy products through links on our site, we may earn a commission.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends starting solid foods at around 6 months of age.

A baby's first food will be a relatively bland porridge, such as oatmeal or rice cereal. Ideally, the cereal will be organic, non-GMO, and free of trace pesticides, herbicides, and heavy metals.

According to the AAP, here are some clues to help you know when your baby is ready to start solid foods:

✔️  Sits with minimal support.
✔️  Has good head and neck control.
✔️  Has doubled their birth weight.
✔️  Weighs at least 13 pounds.
✔️  Turns head away when full.
✔️  Puts things in mouth.
✔️  Is interested in your food.

These are rough rules of thumb that will not necessarily apply to all babies, so always check with your child's pediatrician first. For example, a premature baby may double their birth weight long before 6 months, and may not show any interest in baby cereal at that point!

Just for fun, what does ChatGPT think is the best baby cereal!?
"According to my research, the best organic baby cereal is made by Gerber. This brand produces a healthy and nutritious baby cereal that uses non-GMO ingredients to ensure their products are free from artificial preservatives and additives." -ChatGPT

In this case, we tend to agree with our robot overlords!

In this article, we review Oatmeal and Rice Cereals only. Be sure to check out our other review article if you are interested in finding the best organic baby purees.

Full disclosure: Some of these baby cereals, including the Holle and Happy Baby options, were sent to us as free test samples by the manufacturer.

To find the best rice and oatmeal cereals of the year, we've tested 26 different brands. We checked for certifications from USDA Organic, the Clean Label Project, and Oregon Tilth.

Update: As of 2023, the Happy baby cereals have been discontinued.

We checked the cereal's consistency, ease of feeding, and taste. With the babies, we tested acceptance and how it affected their gastrointestinal system: reflux, spit-up, diarrhea, and constipation. Finally, we checked reports of heavy metals in baby foods, including the recent report from Happy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF), and the follow-up report from the Congressional Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy.

Overall, we found some excellent options that are not only certified organic but also accepted by infants and well-tolerated by their guts!

Here are Our Top Picks!

a mom feeding a baby earths best oatmeal cereal

1. Earth's Best Baby Cereal - Organic Oatmeal.

Earth's Best baby cereals come in several varieties including Oatmeal, Brown Rice (what they call "whole grain rice"), Oatmeal with Banana, and Whole Grain. The Oatmeal variety says it may contain traces of wheat/gluten, but the Brown Rice version is gluten-free. The great thing about Earth's Best is that they genuinely take a lot of pride in the foods they produce. They're a smaller company (owned by the Hain Celestial Group) that takes genetically modified ingredients very seriously (check out their mission at Earth's Best). Other than the oatmeal and bananas variety, we found the Earth's Best options a bit blander to the taste than others on this list. It could be because they contain 0 grams of sugar, but our test babies didn't seem to mind once it was mixed with a little bit of breast milk!

cradlewise smart crib

The Earth's Best Oatmeal has a very simple set of ingredients: the main ingredient (whole grain oats or rice) and a bunch of vitamins/minerals, including iron. Like most other baby cereals, each serving contains 5mg iron content, and 1 gram of fat. Nice and simple, which we like. Our test babies liked it too, and tolerated it very well, without any signs of gastrointestinal distress. Interested? Check out the Earth's Best Organic Baby Cereal here. Note that the Clean Label Project found very high levels of contaminants in the Earth's Best *rice* cereal, which we do not recommend.


a baby reaching for a bag of else organic baby cereal

2. Else Organic Baby Cereal - Almonds & Buckwheat.

This option is a bit different from your typical oatmeal baby cereal in a few ways. First, rather than using oatmeal, it uses a blend of gluten-free buckwheat flour, tapioca starch, and almond butter. Second, rather than only being offered in a bland "original" flavor, Else also offers this baby cereal in delicious natural flavors of vanilla, banana, or mango. Third, the Else baby cereals have been awarded the coveted Clean Label Project Purity Award, which means they have been tested for (and passed with flying colors!) over 400 different impurities including chemicals, toxins, and industrial contaminants (like heavy metals, BPA, pesticides). For those who aren't familiar with the Clean Label Purity Award, you can read more about it here; suffice to say, it's a big deal, especially when recent studies found all sorts of nasty contaminants in baby food (especially rice cereals). Else has also been granted several other awards for its transparency in labeling, purity, and pesticide-free products. That makes us feel really good about our little ones consuming Else products!

But how did our test babies feel about it? In our testing, we tried the original (no added flavor), vanilla, and banana flavors. All three are non-GMO, USDA organic, certified plant-based, and free of dairy, soy, gluten, and corn syrup. The texture was a little different from typical oatmeal baby cereal, but we thought it was plenty smooth and creamy for a first food. The original was rather bland, as you would expect until we mixed it with breast milk - which our test infants loved! On the older babies, one 8 months and one 10 months, we tested the flavored versions - of course, we also tasted them ourselves! Both were great - the flavor was subtle and not overwhelming, and both babies accepted them without any hesitation. Overall, we think the Else baby cereal mixes well, has a great texture as a first food, has yummy flavor options, and is well-accepted and tolerated. What more could we ask for!? Well, one minor thing we would request is the removal of the tapioca maltodextrin, which is a food starch; it's organic and accepted by the FDA as safe for consumption, but it's also a somewhat unnecessary filler/thickener. Other than that little gripe, we think this is a perfect first food! Interested? Check out the Else Organic Baby Cereal here.


a canister of gerber organic baby cereal

3. Gerber Organic Baby Cereal - Oatmeal.

The Gerber organic baby cereals come in Oatmeal, Brown Rice, and Oatmeal with Peach and Apple flavors. You'll want to start with the Oatmeal, and then move on to the Oatmeal with Peach and Apple flavors. We found the oatmeal to be the perfect consistency for a first food. It also wasn't quite as sweet tasting as the brown rice, and the oatmeal with peach and apple was the sweetest tasting of the three. We mixed it with breast milk and the babies seemed to like it quite a bit! All varieties have just about the same nutritional composition, with 5mg iron content per serving, 2 grams of sugar, and under 1 gram of fat.

Note that the Oatmeal versions are not gluten-free, but the brown rice version is. Gerber oatmeals contain a pretty simple set of ingredients: oatmeal, two organic sources of choline to support brain and eye development (soy lecithin and choline bitartrate), and vitamins and minerals. We don't appreciate the addition of soy lecithin. We also want to point out that while we recommend the Gerber organic oatmeal variety, we do not recommend their rice cereal based on the Clean Label Project findings. Overall, a great first oatmeal that we have found to be well-accepted when mixed with breastmilk or formula, and very well-tolerated by infants. Interested? Check out the Gerber Organic Baby Cereal here.


a box of holle organic oat baby cereal

4. Holle Baby Cereal: Organic European Baby Food.

If you don't know about Holle, you're missing out! Very popular in Europe, Holle is a Swiss company that conforms to the relatively strict European organic and Demeter farming regulations, making some of the best organic baby formulas and foods on the European market. Parents rave about their products, and for good reason - they are uncompromising in their ingredient sourcing and quality control. Thanks to several companies that import European baby formulas and foods to the USA, you can get this porridge delivered to your doorstep within a couple of days. The Holle oatmeal cereal contains only two ingredients: organic whole-grain oats, and vitamin B1 (thiamine). Their other varieties are similarly simple.

Holle recently received the Clean Label Purity Award, making it one of very few baby cereals with that prestigious certification! For parents who are certain their baby is getting sufficient iron from other sources, this is the most basic oatmeal cereal you will find (unless you grind it yourself!). We fed Holle oatmeal cereal to our children from about 5 months onward, and all of them accepted it (mixed with breastmilk) and showed very high tolerance. It's as simple as you can get, so this isn't surprising. It is bland and tasteless? Yes! Will your baby love it when mixed with a little bit of breast milk? The odds are in your favor! Expensive? Yes, this baby cereal is about $1.50 per ounce, but for parents seeking an excellent option, we highly recommend it. Interested? Check out the Happy Baby Organic Baby Cereal here.


assorted canisters of beech-nut organic baby cereal in the oatmeal variety

5. Beech-Nut Infant Cereal, Organic Oatmeal.

At less than $3 each, these canisters of Beech-Nut are a great deal. Beech-Nut, a long-time purveyor of baby foods, managed to produce a USDA-certified organic oatmeal cereal that sources ingredients from farms with sustainable agriculture practices and commitment to biodiversity. Like all baby cereals other than Holle (above), the Beech-Nut cereals are fortified with several vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc, folic acids, and several B, D, and E vitamins. In a quarter-cup serving (15 grams), the cereal contains 6.8mg of iron. This might be somewhat excessive if your baby is already supplementing iron through baby formula or other sources.

In our testing, the Beech-Nut cereal was mixed readily with water (we usually add a tiny bit of breast milk to increase familiarity when using it as a first food), and became a smooth consistency that was easy to scoop and feed. Some parents might notice tiny metallic flakes in the oatmeal cereal, which is the electrolytic iron and not a cause for concern. Trying the cereal ourselves, it was extremely bland - this wasn't surprising given that there are no added sweeteners or flavors. Nevertheless, the 8-month-old baby we tested this with was very intrigued by its flavor and texture, showing very high acceptance. Tolerance wasn't quite as high, however, with the baby developing signs of constipation later in the day. It's unclear whether it was directly related to this cereal, but first foods can produce constipation (and other gastrointestinal effects) regardless of their iron content. Overall, we think this is a great new addition to this list, and the price is unbeatable at about 33 cents per ounce! Interested? Check out the Beech-Nut Infant Cereal here.

Conclusions

Note that Pure Spoon baby foods were new to the market back in 2016-2017, but were recently discontinued. At this point, the remaining supplies of this excellent baby food are sold out, so we've removed it from our list entirely.

Check out our quick guide on how to start solid foods, which gives an overview of the cues to help you figure out if your baby is ready to try solid foods. If you're ever uncertain, always consult your pediatrician before starting, and make sure you have one of the best high chairs to achieve a good feeding posture and support!

First Solid Baby Foods

Baby Cereals are usually the first recommended solid food for babies 4 to 6 months of age. This is for a few reasons. First, it gets your baby used to a unique food texture in the mouth without any new strong flavors and gets them used to coordinating and swallowing something thicker than milk. Second, around 6 months of age, your baby's iron needs usually exceed what is available in breast milk or infant formulas, so iron-fortified baby cereal is a great way to supplement.

And no, research shows that iron-fortified baby cereals do not cause or exacerbate constipation.

Third, cereal is unique because you mix it with breast milk or baby formula to make it a more familiar flavor for your baby and reduce the likelihood that your baby outright rejects it - this is especially important if you're dealing with a picky eater. Speaking of picky eaters, be sure to check out our reviews of the best organic baby formula.

Second Solid Baby Foods

The fruit and veggie puree is the next step after your baby has graduated from baby cereal, usually around 6 to 8 months of age. You can see the best organic baby food purees here. Experimenting with fruit and veggie purees can be a real adventure! Don't be surprised if your baby spits out everything the first time, or even the second and third time! Sometimes it can take 5-10 times for your baby to get used to a new flavor or texture, and this process is a great developmental learning experience for your baby. So, don't give up on them!

Our advice is to start by slowly mixing some relatively bland fruit and veggie purees into the baby cereal. Maybe some banana or prune puree mixed into the baby cereal, which tends to be sweeter and preferred by most babies.

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