The most commonly recommended first food for your baby is white rice cereal. I’m sure your maternal nurse, GP and friends have recommended it. Have you stopped to consider why?
Let’s look at the reasons why some people recommend it. Rice is said to be a low allergenic food. This means when introducing foods for the first time, it has a low risk of causing a reaction of any sort. Which can be very reassuring for a mother! Plus, often the rice cereal is fortified with iron, which babies have an increased need for from 6 months of age.
Why you should skip the white rice cereal
Let’s look at why white rice cereal might not be the best first food for your baby.
It is a highly processed grain. Levels of childhood overweight and obesity are on the rise, and stats are indicating it is beginning around 6-9 months of age. The exact time we are introducing solids to our babies.
As mothers, we all want the best for our babies. And usually this includes giving them wholesome food to start their day on. White rice cereal begins as whole grain, is then broken down into flakes, and further broken down into powder. The result being when it hits your baby’s tongue, it is instantly turned into glucose before it has been swallowed!
I know most mothers would not like the idea of giving their baby spoonfuls of sugar to begin their food journey – yet white rice cereal is one step away from sugar.
There are a number of ways a high carb diet may upset your baby’s system.
It causes blood sugar spikes, making more work for their pancreas. Babies who have blood sugar highs followed by lows may be irritable, not sleep well, and create a preference for a high carb diet.
High carb diets encourage inflammation in your baby’s system, feed pathogenic bugs such as candida, and create acidity in the mouth.
Studies have now shown that feeding a high carb diet in the first year of life is associated with long-term changes in the hypothalamus, the area of the brain associated with appetite regulation. This means feeding your baby a high carb diet in the first few months of solids introduction has the ability to program their food preferences and appetite regulation for their lifetime.
As part of the processing, folic acid and iron (sometimes calcium) are added to the cereal. It is always better to gain nutrients from wholefoods rather than artificial supplementation. Folic acid can be harmful for some babies, and iron is easily sourced by other means.
Some better ideas for your baby’s first foods include sweet potato, slow cooked meats, egg yolk or zucchini.