The Hot Topic Tuesday prompt of the week is “Rice cereal is a good first food for babies.”
When my daughter first started eating solid foods, my husband and I skipped the baby cereals. Instead, the first big girl food that my daughter ever ate was sweet potatoes. I had also loaded my freezer up with other homemade baby foods made from carrots, yellow squash, spinach, Swiss chard, peaches, mangos, papayas, and bananas and other healthy fruits and vegetables. For her first grains, I planned on quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice, and barley. I did not give my daughter any of those overly processed, pre-packaged baby cereals and certainly not rice baby cereal.
Rice cereal is, plain and simple, not a good first food for babies. First, rice cereal is highly refined, high in sugar, and low in nutrients. Basically, rice cereal is a nutritionally-defunct, overly-processed pseudo-food. Just as I was not going to give my daughter a fast food burger and fries with a side of slim fast for her first meal, neither was I going to give her rice cereal. Real babies need real food, and so her first bites of big girl food were some delicious and healthy sweet potatoes that I careful peeled, cooked, and mashed up for her.
Second, giving a baby rice cereal as a first food can influence later food choices and can ultimately increase the risk for diabetes. By giving babies highly processed and very sweet rice cereal, their little palates become accustomed to highly processed and very sweet foods. In other words, giving a baby rice cereal sets the kid up to crave junk food. Again, because I want my daughter to want healthier food choices like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, I am skipping the rice cereal and starting right away with nutritious vegetables and fruits. Furthermore, eating too many simple carbohydrates such as those that are found in rice cereal is linked to an increased risk for diabetes. I of course want to keep my daughter as healthy as possible, so not a morsel of rice cereal will enter her mouth!
Finally, rice cereal is pointless. The main reason for starting with rice cereal is that it is easy to digest. Back in the 1950s when mothers were urged to introduce solid foods prior to six months, an easily digestible food was necessary. However, the current recommendation is to wait to give a baby solid foods until six months of age when his or her gut has closed. By waiting long enough, real foods can be given to a baby, making rice cereal pointless. My daughter was exactly six months old when she had her first bite of big girl food. Sweet potatoes all the way! No pointless rice cereal for her!
Yes, brown rice cereal is an alternative to the nutritionally-devoid white rice cereal. However, rice is not one of the healthiest grains. So, if you feel like you must give your baby rice cereal, then brown rice is the way to go. However, for my daughter, I am skipping the baby cereals all together and starting her with real fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Rice cereal is just not a good first food for a healthy, happy, growing baby.
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Next week’s Hot Topic Tuesday subject: Should babies wear shoes?
Linky has been removed.
Get the white out of baby’s first foods, pediatrician says: http://www.usatoday.com/yourlife/parenting-family/babies/2010-12-01-babyfood01_st_N.htm
Nine good reasons not to use baby rice: http://www.analyticalarmadillo.co.uk/2011/12/nine-good-reasons-not-to-use-baby-rice.html
First Rice Cereal: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:First_rice.jpg