Rice cereal is one of those foods that’s questionable when giving it to babies. It doesn’t make you a bad parent if you have given your baby that food, but it is good to know everything you can about rice cereal. Being educated as a parent is the best thing you can do for your baby. With my oldest I really just did what my parents and grandparents told me because I didn’t know what I was doing as a new parent and figured that knew better than I did. But, the second time around was different. When my youngest son became old enough to eat solids, I read everything I could and I came to the conclusion I would never feed him rice cereal and I truly never did.
If you are on the fence about it, here are reasons why I never fed my baby rice cereal and reasons why you may not want to either. Once you know the reasons behind my decision, you can decide what is best for you and your baby.
Why I Never Fed My Baby Rice Cereal
- It doesn’t help babies sleep longer- There seems to be some myth that giving cereal in bottles will help babies sleep longer. However, more and more studies are showing that it doesn’t help babies sleep longer. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics cautions that doing this could put your baby at risk for excess weight gain, because her or she can wind up getting more calories than they need (you can read about that here). All baby typically needs for the first six months is milk from the mama (or formula).
- Rice cereal can be a choking hazard- In order to get your baby to suck down rice cereal in a bottle, you usually have to cut a bigger nipple. How can this be good for baby? It could actually cause choking especially if you try feeding your baby this way during nap and sleep times.
- It’s just a filler- If we’re being honest here, rice cereal has little to no nutritional value, it’s simply something to use as a filler. Most moms give their babies rice cereal because they think it’s a great first food and sometimes to help add iron into their diet. But studies have shown otherwise. Meats, fruits, and veggies are actually good first foods (and can be a better way to get iron).
- Rice cereal isn’t all that healthy- Again, this article isn’t to make anyone feel bad, it’s all about the fact. Rice cereal has been proven to be not that healthy for your baby. There are tons of sugars and grains in rice cereal that aren’t great for baby. Not to mention, many contain chemicals to help extend it’s shelf life. One dangerous chemical found: Arsenic. Don’t believe me? Read the advice from the AAP here. Next time you grab a box of rice cereal look at the ingredients, they do contain many in which you probably can’t even pronounce. If you can’t pronounce it, do you really want to feed it to your baby? I sure don’t!
- Rice cereal can be an early cause of early obesity- As I mentioned early, the AAP cautions it can cause excessive weight gain. Not only are you basically handing your child sugar when you give them rice cereal, but it can lead to obesity and even diabetes later in life. In fact, a 2010 study published in Arch Intern Med found that those who ate white rice 5 or more times a week had a 17% increased risk of type 2 diabetes compared with those who ate it less than once a month. Avoid it if at all possible to help give them a healthy start to life.
- Formula & breastmilk is best- Keep in mind that the standards for when you feed baby solids is now 6 months. Most babies can’t handle food until they reach that point. Even then, starting them out with wholesome, organic foods like fruits and vegetables can be exactly what they need to get started on a healthy lifestyle.
Again, this article isn’t mean to be a “parent shaming” post. I realize that rice cereal has been a standing tradition and something our parents used when we we were little (mine used it with me). But we have to remember that as time has changed our foods have become more processed then ever and if our food industry isn’t going to set standards on foods for our children, maybe it’s time we do it ourselves.
If you don’t choose to avoid rice cereal altogether, then consider doing your research on certified organic options that can be much healthier for your baby.
So what do you think? Do you feed rice cereal to your baby?
Want another great read? Check out 10 tips for being an awesome mom!