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Is White Rice Cereal Dangerous for Babies?

Did You Know?

Soft fruits or boiled vegetables mashed, puréed, or ground using a food grinder is considered to be the best and safest solid food option to feed babies.

Something that is easy to digest and is solid is often recommended to babies who are at least 6 months old. Talk about introducing the first solid food to a baby and the first thing parents tend to do is buy a box of white rice cereal. And why not? Also referred to as baby rice, this cereal comes with the promise of being easily digestible, gluten-free, and fortified with added iron. However, what appears to be healthy is actually highly processed and in no way beneficial to your baby. Read this Buzzle article for details that will warn you about the possible adverse effects of rice cereals.

Why White Rice Cereal is Not Good for Babies

Heavily Processed
White rice cereal is loaded with white flour which in turn is a highly processed ingredient. So, how can something that is heavily processed be good for your baby or rather anybody? Wheat subjected to refining process produces white flour and this processing impacts its nutrition quotient heavily. Simply put, the refining process robs white rice cereal of all its natural nutrients. Although these cereals may be fortified with added nutrients, their bioavailability decreases in comparison to naturally available nutrients in food. Also, introducing white rice cereal at a very early age sets the precedent for unhealthy eating and there are high chances that the craving for white flour food will only increase over the years.

High Sugar Content
Refined flour behaves like sugar in the body. Once the cereal is consumed, the white flour in it gets converted to sugar immediately. No wonder it is often said that feeding a spoonful of white rice cereal to your baby is as good as emptying a spoonful of table sugar in his mouth.

Insulin Spikes
Consuming edibles high in white flour increases blood sugar levels rapidly. As the hormone insulin controls blood sugar, the sudden rise in sugar levels triggers a substantial rise in the release of insulin. This spike in insulin every time the baby is fed white rice can eventually make the body cells resistant to the actions of insulin. This can cause difficulty in controlling blood sugar, increasing the risk of diabetes.

Weight Gain
High insulin levels have been associated with excessive weight gain. No wonder pediatricians believe that feeding infants with white flour products is one of the factors responsible for causing childhood obesity in the United States. Also, being overweight and obese in the initial years increases the risk of cardiovascular problems later in life.

Constipation
Babies feeling constipated after being fed iron-fortified cereals has been reported by quite a few moms. When the diet contains too much iron, babies tend to strain during bowel movement and defecate dry, hard stool. So, your baby needs to undergo some blood work that evaluates the amount of iron circulating in the bloodstream and after consultation with a qualified doctor, decide whether it is necessary to feed iron-fortified white rice cereals at all.

Is Whole Grain Baby Rice Healthy?

Many say that instead of white rice cereal, organic whole grain baby rice can be given to babies. Unlike white rice, whole grain is not processed and hence retains most of its vital nutrients, including fiber, minerals, and vitamins. However, a recent study analyzing baby rice food sold under popular brands, published in the Journal of Food Chemistry, revealed the presence of harmful elements, such as arsenic, in them. Though the concentration of these toxins are below safe limits, Swedish researchers are of the opinion that there is a need to reestablish new rules for permissible arsenic levels in rice milk and baby rice to ensure that the presence of arsenic in baby food is reduced to the least possible extent.

What Your Baby Should Eat

Looking for a healthy food option for your baby? The egg yolk (and not the egg white) of boiled eggs is one of the best first solid food items for babies. Egg yolk is considered a brain food as it contains nutrients that promote the healthy functioning of the brain. Puréeing fruits and cooked vegetables are also recommended for feeding your baby. Something as simple as mashed sweet potato that is well-cooked is a good, healthy food option for your baby. By far, ideal solid baby food always consists of food prepared at home. By making food at home, you have control over and knowledge of every ingredient you add to the food you give your baby.

Caution
As parents, you should not be in a hurry to start feeding your baby solid food. Introducing solids early can cause breathing problems in case small bits of foods travel down to the lungs. This can happen because babies are not mature enough to chew and swallow solid food. So, wait until 6 months before introducing solids in your baby’s diet.

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I am a father of three and my wife is a registered nurse specialized in children.

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