Is white rice cereal the best choice for baby’s first food?
Should your baby have rice cereal as his first solid food?
Introducing solid foods is an exciting milestone for most parents. Traditionally that first meal usually was an iron fortified white rice cereal. That no longer may be the best choice for your baby! White rice cereal has very little nutritional value, except for the iron that it has been fortified with. There is actually a campaign movement to stop the manufacture of white rice cereal for babies! We know that children start to form definite likes and dislikes after exposure to food. Processed grains like white rice is not the type of food that we want our children to develop a taste for! Childhood obesity is a real problem, so we must introduce foods from moment one that are nutritious and not empty calories. There are so many other great choices for your baby’s first meal. Iron is an important nutrient, and babies’ iron stores do start to decrease around the 6 month mark. With that in mind, parents may want to choose some foods that are higher in iron for their baby. If you are worried about your baby’s iron level that can always be easily tested by a simple blood test by your baby’s doctor. However, healthy term babies usually are not high risk for low iron. So what options do you have for that first meal? You still may choose a rice cereal that is iron fortified, but I would use a brown rice option. There are many different brown rice baby foods available. Oatmeal is also a better choice than a white rice cereal. Other great first foods would even include pureed meats. Yes, meat! Meat is a great source of protein, zinc, and iron. Not usually the first food that parents think of when starting solids! Other options would include bananas, sweet potatoes, or even a good fat like mashed avocado. There is no research that supports introducing food in any particular order is better for your child. As parents, you just want to expose your child to many tastes and foods that are nutritiously dense….not just empty calories. If we want our children to embrace whole grains, vegetables, fruits and lean proteins, then that is what we should be introducing from the first spoonful our babies receive. So….in my opinion, white rice cereal would not be the best choice…and spending your dollars on baby blueberry cobbler (yes it is out there) is not the best way to introduce the wonderful taste of blueberries! Introduce your baby to the foods that you hope will become staples in his diet. Enjoy this new milestone! Remember, feeding your baby should be fun and nutritious!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.