Should i feed my baby rice cereal

Baby Food for Thought: How Safe is Rice Cereal?

For generations, rice cereal has been a top choice for babies starting solid foods, but lately there’s growing concern about what’s in it besides the rice: arsenic. UR Medicine’s Dr. Ruth Lawrence, an internationally recognized expert on breastfeeding and infant nutritional needs, offers some information and advice for parents.

Arsenic occurs naturally in soil, air and water. Because rice is grown in water, any arsenic in the water supply binds to the rice as it grows. A known carcinogen, arsenic can influence risk of cardiovascular, immune and other diseases, and research has shown that even low levels can have a negative impact on babies’ neurodevelopment.

Both adults and infants are exposed to arsenic when eating rice, but it’s a bigger concern for babies. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says rice intake for infants, primarily through infant rice cereal, is about three times greater than for adults relative to body weight. In fact, people eat the most rice (relative to their weight) at approximately 8 months of age, a prime time for infant brain development.

The FDA recently proposed a limit of 100 parts per billion of inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal. Their testing found that most infant rice cereals on the market either meet, or are close to, the proposed level. A JAMA Pediatrics study, published on the heels of the FDA’s recommendation, advises parents to keep an eye on the amount of cereal their babies eat. Researchers followed children for a number of years, noting the amount of rice products they ate and analyzing the arsenic levels in their urine. Babies who ate rice cereals had higher concentrations of arsenic than those who didn’t.

Here’s some advice for parents who are wondering if, why and when to consider feeding rice cereal to babies.

  • Follow the “six-month” rule. Don’t feed your baby rice cereal—or any other solid food—prior to six months of age. Babies should be exclusively breastfed or given formula (or a combination of breast milk and formula) for the first six months of life. Breast milk, and even formula, is much more nutritious for babies at this age than solid-food alternatives.
  • Note the benefits of rice cereal. There are reasons why rice cereal is so popular: it’s easy to digest, doesn’t trigger an allergic reaction as the gluten in wheat can, and is well tolerated by babies who are transitioning from breast milk or formula to solid food. In an appropriate quantity, it’s still a food you can include in your baby’s diet.
  • Watch your baby’s intake. The greatest brain development occurs in the first year of life and a baby’s diet has an impact on that development. When you feed your baby rice cereal, follow the American Academy of Pediatrics’ advice: Don’t feed rice cereal every day and don’t make it the only food in the meal.
  • Pick your brand of rice cereal wisely. Levels of inorganic arsenic can vary widely by brand in both baby foods and products for adults. (Check out Consumer Reports’ study of arsenic levels in a variety of products.)
  • Expand your baby’s diet. Add other grain cereals to your baby’s diet, including barley, quinoa, and oats. Choose single-grain cereals, rather than multigrain so you can see how your baby reacts to various grains and avoid any that seem to cause a problem. When it’s time to add vegetables and fruits, follow the same principle and introduce one new food at a time.
  • Choose iron-fortified cereals. These help ensure your baby gets the nutrients it needs for optimum brain development.
  • Don’t overlook other potential sources of arsenic. Arsenic can be found in other foods and other sources besides rice cereal—especially groundwater. If you have a well, be sure to have it checked periodically for arsenic as well as heavy metals such as lead, which also can be harmful to babies’ and adults’ health.

Ruth A. Lawrence, M.D., is a professor of Pediatrics and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and medical director of the Ruth A. Lawrence Poison and Drug Information Center and of the Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Study Center. She is an internationally renowned expert in breastfeeding and author of Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession, now in its eighth edition.


Is Rice Cereal Safe for Babies? – Happiest Baby

By Gabrielle McPherson, MS, RDN, LDN

When Grandma starts nudging you to offer your 2-month-old rice cereal, you might be wondering if it’s safe. After all, rice cereal is easy to digest and well tolerated by babies, and for 50 years, it was Baby’s first food. Then again, lately rice cereal has earned a bad reputation for its high levels of arsenic. So, is rice cereal safe for babies? And what’s the best way to introduce it? If you’re confused about offering rice cereal to your baby, let us steer you in the right direction.  

Are infant cereals good for babies?

Around 6 months of age, when babies are ready to take their first slurp of solid foods, their needs for certain nutrients, like iron, rise significantly. Infant cereals are fortified with iron to help oxygen travel in the red blood cells and for healthy brain development. If babies miss out on getting the iron they need, iron deficiency can develop, hampering learning, growing, and appetite. In addition to serving up a healthy dose of iron, infant cereals offer many other nutrient must-haves, including calories for energy and growth, folate, zinc, protein, and B vitamins. 

What is rice cereal?

Rice cereal is one popular type of baby cereal. It’s made from rice that’s been ground up into a fortified powder. With a generous splash of liquid (like formula or breastmilk) it’s an easy food for new eaters to chow down. The issue is that rice cereal contains arsenic, a natural element found in the Earth’s crust that’s present in the air, water, and soil, which gets into crops as they grow. As rice grows, it tends to soak arsenic up more arsenic than other crops—so even though arsenic is present in lots of foods, it’s especially concentrated in rice. And because arsenic is a known carcinogen, it could threaten a baby’s health and development if overeaten…which can sound pretty scary.

Is rice cereal safe for babies?

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), yes, rice cereal is safe, as long as it’s consumed in small amounts. Arsenic can’t be removed from rice, so instead baby cereal products must undergo testing to make sure the arsenic level is low enough to keep little eaters safe. In 2020, the FDA released up-to-date guidance on safe levels of arsenic in rice cereal to be at or below 100 parts per billion (ppb). So what does that mean for your family? In short, you can offer your baby rice cereal sometimes, but it should never be your tot’s only source of nutrition. 

Do I have to give my baby rice cereal?

No! Rice cereal is not a necessary food for babies, and even the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says rice cereal doesn’t have to be a first food. Alternatives to rice cereal are readily available in stores and have similar or better nutritional value to rice cereal. Babies are at a higher risk of experiencing the harmful effects of arsenic because their still-growing bodies are vulnerable, so many parents are more comfortable with cereal derived from a different type of grain.

Rice cereal alternatives 

  • Oat cereal
  • Multigrain cereal
  • Barley cereal
  • Millet cereal
  • Quinoa cereal

How to reduce arsenic in your baby’s diet:

If rice cereal is a pantry staple in your kitchen, there are several ways to keep your baby’s exposure to arsenic to a minimum.

  • Limit rice cereal to twice a week or skip it altogether.
  • Choose alternative grains that your baby can eat daily. 
  • Offer your baby a wide variety of iron-rich foods, like pureed beans, pureed meats, pureed chicken, pureed fish, scrambled eggs, and pureed vegetables. 
  • Avoid using rice cereal as a thickening agent for formula or breastmilk, and talk to your baby’s pediatrician about an infant formula that contains a thickener.  
  • Check the Clean Label Project’s top five list of baby cereals with low contaminants.

How do I know if my baby is ready for cereal?

Though older family members may drop hints that it’s time to add cereal to your baby’s repertoire, hold off on introducing foods too early! It’s not until your baby reaches that half-year mark that their digestive tract is mature enough to handle cereal. (Learn more about feeding your baby solid foods like cereal.)

Ideally, babies should exclusively breastfeed or formula feed for six months. Babies start showing signs that they may be ready to explore the world of solid foods when they sit up with good head, neck, and trunk control and show interest in eating, which tends to happen around the half-year mark. 

Will adding rice cereal to my baby’s bottle help them sleep?

The AAP strongly advises against adding rice cereal—or any cereal—to a bottle to enhance a baby’s sleep duration. Adding these grains to a bottle makes it thicker, posing a risk of choking and rapid weight gain. If you have concerns about your baby’s sleep, give your pediatrician a ring.

Can I thicken my baby’s bottle with rice cereal?

Adding cereal to a bottle has been a long-time habit for families for lots of reasons. Some parents feel it helps their babies stay full for longer, and others believe it helps prevent excessive spit-up episodes. 

However mixing cereal into your baby’s milk can increase their risk of gagging and choking during their feeding. On top of that, it can cause them to overdose on calories, giving them far more than they need and increasing their weight quickly. If your baby has problems with swallowing or reflux, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor.

How do I offer infant cereal to my baby?

Stir one tablespoon of cereal in a bowl with four to five tablespoons of breastmilk or iron-fortified infant formula. Spoon-feed this soup-like mixture to your baby until they show signs they’re full. If your baby has had plain cereal before and you know they’re not allergic, you can start mixing some fruit puree into the cereal for a fun flavor change-up.


About Gabrielle McPherson

Gabrielle McPherson, MS, RDN, LDN is registered dietitian in Missouri who specializes in community and pediatric nutrition. Gaby is passionate about encouraging families to eat well in simple, practical ways that are realistic...and delicious! When not working, Gaby loves cooking, baking, and making messes and memories with her sous-chef/preschooler Charlotte.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.

how to cook rice for feeding

Contents: Hide

  • Rice porridge for infants
  • First baby food with rice porridge
  • Dietary Guidelines
  • How to cook rice porridge for babies
  • One of the first "adult" dishes on the baby's table is rice. This cereal has earned the trust of nutritionists, pediatricians and parents around the world. Rice is a gluten-free, low-allergenic cereal with a high content of "healthy" carbohydrates (up to 85%), which are perfectly digested in the baby's sensitive digestive tract. Rice is also traditionally used in the therapeutic diets of people with diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and intestinal infections. nine0005

    Main useful properties

    The main properties of rice porridge are its low calorie content (44 kcal per 100 g of product) and the optimal ratio of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Rice has a low glycemic index, which contributes to a more efficient supply of glucose to the brain. Protein in rice contains a small amount, but due to its structure, it is perfectly absorbed by the human body (up to 98%). In the fat component of rice, 1/5 part (21%) belongs to fatty acids important for the child's body: oleic (37%), linoleic (41%) and linolenic. The low fat content in rice groats (0.7–1 g/100 g of groats), the optimal ratio of proteins, fats and carbohydrates (7 g/1 g/74 g) create a long-lasting feeling of fullness when eating ready-made rice dishes. Since rice does not contain coarse dietary fiber, it can be used in the diet of people with diseases of the digestive system, accompanied by excessive motility and gas formation. The vitamin and mineral composition of rice cereal is not as rich as compared to buckwheat or oatmeal. However, rice grains contain a large amount of B vitamins, of which the most are pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and tocopherol (vitamin E). nine0005

    Rice dishes occupy one of the leading positions in the world gastronomic culture. About 5000 recipes based on this cereal are known. Therefore, in baby food, rice porridge does not lose its popularity.

    For breakfast in Russia, porridge is traditionally prepared for children, because the first meal should be high-calorie, satisfying and tasty. The main components of a healthy breakfast should be complex carbohydrates, proteins and fats of animal origin, which take longer to be processed by digestive enzymes. Therefore, the choice of parents in favor of porridge as the main dish in the morning is quite justified. nine0005

    Rice porridge for feeding children in the first year of life

    Children's rice porridge is one of the most popular products in the Baby Premium line. Small gourmets can choose from dairy-free and milky rice porridges, with fruit additives. All cereals of the Baby Premium line have a high safety profile, are enriched with essential vitamins and minerals, which increases their nutritional value.

    The use of fortified baby foods is an important part of nutrition in the first year of life. During the transition of a child from exclusive breastfeeding to the stage of introduction of complementary foods, short-term deficiency states for individual microelements may occur. nine0005

    Lack of proper eating habits in the family, encouragement of the child's independent choice of foods, selectivity in nutrition, restrictive diets are factors that lead to a deficiency of vitamins and minerals in the baby's diet.

    In this regard, health professionals have developed a global strategy to reduce the risk of developing vitamin and mineral deficiencies - the mandatory fortification of daily food, especially regarding the children's menu.

    Thus, it has been proven that no additional non-fortified food can provide the infant with an adequate level of zinc, the deficiency of which causes a decrease in growth rate, intestinal diseases and a decrease in immune tolerance. Accordingly, the child should receive additional zinc with enriched complementary foods.

    The same risk factors include a high prevalence of iron deficiency in children of the 1st year of life due to poor control of maternal nutrition during pregnancy and lactation, obsession with diets, premature birth and the development of digestive disorders in the infant in the first months of life. Iron deficiency can cause delayed psychomotor development and other health problems in the baby. With the right balance of trace elements in the diet of both the mother and the baby, this condition can be avoided. nine0005

    Baby Premium baby cereals contain all the necessary vitamins and minerals, but the content of such elements as iron, iodine, zinc, B, A, C vitamins is especially high, which cover up to 10% of the daily requirement for these substances.

    The first complementary foods with rice porridge for children

    Each parent can offer children's rice porridge for breakfast. For healthy babies, complementary foods at 4-6 months can be started with safe, low-allergenic Baby Premium rice porridge and gradually move to milk-based rice porridge, which has a high nutritional value due to the ideal combination of animal proteins and cereals, as well as the additional introduction of vitamins and minerals . In terms of calories, milk porridges are comparable to breast milk (90 kcal and 70 kcal, respectively), in this regard, they perfectly maintain a long-term feeling of satiety and give a stable supply of energy to the little hero.

    If it is necessary to make a more varied diet and introduce the child to new tastes in the Baby Premium line, you can choose milk rice porridge with fruits. Fruit additives in cereals are additional sources of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and also develop the taste buds of a little gourmet.

    If a child has health problems in the form of food allergies, malabsorption syndrome, celiac disease, then he can be recommended for a long time low-allergenic rice porridge, which is also a full-fledged dairy-free cereal dish. The ratio of the main nutrients, the content of vitamins and minerals in it correspond to all physiological norms of consumption in early childhood. Dairy-free rice porridge is enriched with prebiotics in the form of inulin, which will favorably affect the formation of a healthy microbiota in the intestines. nine0005

    The use of Baby Premium cereals in the daily diet of young children allows parents to be confident in the high level of technological, microbiological and chemical safety of the product, its usefulness and ease of preparation in a variety of conditions.

    Dietary Recommendations

    1. Start introducing a new food into the diet with a tiny amount. For the first acquaintance with rice, a quarter of a teaspoon of porridge will be enough for a crumb. Every day, you can increase the serving, gradually trying to reach the amount of one serving recommended by the pediatrician. nine0005

    2. It is best to offer this high-carbohydrate product to babies in the morning.

    3. Postpone rice foods for a while if your baby has bloating, intestinal colic, or problems with bowel movements (constipation).

    4. Having decided how to cook rice porridge for feeding, over time you can enrich the taste of the main dish by adding mashed apple, pear or squash puree to it.

    5. In the Bebi Premium line, along with classic rice porridge, there are options with fruit, vegetable, and cream components. They will introduce the baby to new facets of the taste of a product already known to him a few months after the introduction of the first complementary foods. nine0005

    6. Take the time to teach your child about food etiquette from an early age. Wash your hands before and after eating. If the baby is already more than 10 months old, let him try to feed himself. To do this, put a beautiful bowl in front of him and offer a spoon that will be comfortable for him to hold.

    How to cook rice porridge for babies

    You can go in two ways - buy a package of regular rice or choose a special ready-made baby porridge from this cereal. Let's consider both options in more detail. nine0005

    Rice groats

    Several varieties of the product can be found on store shelves. These are parboiled, long-grain, round-grain and medium-grain rice. For the first feeding, the last option is best. Such a product absorbs a large amount of moisture during cooking and boils well. Before you cook rice porridge for the first feeding, you need to carefully prepare the grain.

    • Sort by hand to remove possible pebbles and other debris. nine0008
    • Rinse under water until the liquid is clear.
    • Soak rice in warm water, then rinse with cold water.

    It is important to consider the following information:

    • it is not recommended to cook cereals for children under one year old with cow's milk;
    • proportions: for 20 g of rice - 50 ml of water and 100 breast milk or formula;
    • for babies, do not season porridge with salt, sugar.

    Ready porridge

    At the first feeding, the consistency of the food should be light and as homogeneous as possible. The presence of even small lumps in the baby can provoke regurgitation and rejection of food. Therefore, for the smallest, it is permissible to begin acquaintance with rice in the form of a ready-made powder for making porridge.

    In this case, it is better to take the dairy-free version as the very first product. He leaves the mother the opportunity to prepare a dish with the addition of breast milk or a mixture - products with which the baby's body is already familiar. As a rule, a cooking recipe with exact proportions is indicated on the packaging of porridge. nine0005

    When choosing ready-made baby porridge, pay attention to the ingredients. The presence of dyes, soy products and some other components can cause allergies and other undesirable reactions on the part of the child's body. Bebi Premium rice porridges for the first complementary foods are distinguished by a balanced composition and are additionally enriched with a complex of prebiotics, which contribute to the formation of the correct microflora of the baby's intestines.

    Important! Whichever of the options for how to cook rice porridge for the first complementary foods you choose, only a freshly prepared dish should be offered to the baby. Do not refrigerate leftovers and do not use for subsequent feedings. nine0005

    #First food #Nutrition for children up to a year

    Rice porridge for children | Nutrilak