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So your baby’s pediatrician said it’s time for solids and you run to the store and stock up on baby rice cereal for some baby food fun! Or do you? Is rice cereal bad for babies?
Here’s the deal, rice cereal has been a popular choice for first time solids, including adding it to bottles to drink. But what most parents and caregivers do not know is that rice cereal should NOT be the first food to introduce to your baby.
But why is rice cereal bad?
Arsenic in Rice
What many people do not realize is that baby rice cereal contains high levels of arsenic. Arsenic is naturally occurring in the earth and therefore found in rice. You can’t even escape the arsenic when buying organic rice products. It is just a natural thing.
Whether in a cereal form or another other form, rice should be a food that all of us limit whenever possible. Rinsing rice under running water until the water runs clear is also advisable. If you can buy a different baby cereal such as oatmeal, this is a much better choice.
BRAT Diet Food
Not only does rice contain arsenic, it is a food of the BRAT (bread, rice, applesauce, toast) diet commonly consumed to manage diarrhea, causing constipation. With babies fragile tummies and developing digestive systems, rice may contribute to their constipation and digestive upset. For these reasons alone, you should second guess your choice in introducing baby rice cereal when it is time for your baby to start solids.
Best First Food?
So what is the best food to start your baby on? According to my kids’ pediatrician, it is best to go straight to organic pureed fruits, vegetables and chicken. If you can make your own baby food at home, this is ideal. Packaged baby food products are highly processed, even organic varieties.
Our pediatrician is also a believer in introducing high-risk foods early on. I just love her! Did you know that the new guidelines state you should introduce peanut butter by 6 months of age? Yep, you read that right! Other foods that should be introduced include fish, eggs and dairy.
What’s more, I also happen to be a strong believer in introducing as many different foods as possible between 4-6 months of age to reduce the risk of food allergies. While this rule doesn’t apply to everyone, it is something to consider and talk with your pediatrician about.