It’s time for your baby to start solid foods—hooray! Let’s find the best rice cereal for babies and fill up that little tummy for fewer nighttime feedings and (hopefully!) more sleep for tired parents.
Starting this next milestone is exciting, but can feel overwhelming as well. Rice cereal has always been a go-to first food, but let’s explore if this is still the safest option.
Interested in baby-led weaning? Start with these simple foods.
A basic guide to rice cereal
Rice cereal is a natural first food. It’s quick to make, bland and easy to digest. Plus, you can mix it with purified water, breast milk or formula to create a thin consistency, perfect for a baby learning how to swallow solid foods.
Unfortunately, rice cereal contains higher levels of arsenic than other first foods—like oat or whole grain cereals. (Here’s another surprising food where you may find arsenic.)
Arsenic is a chemical found in soil, and because rice plants absorb more liquid from soil, they absorb more arsenic as well. Most foods contain some amount of arsenic, but experts are concerned about the level in rice cereal. This has caused pediatricians and nutritionists to look at other options for Baby’s first food.
Is rice cereal safe for my baby?
Yes, but in limited amounts. As long as rice cereal is not the only food your baby is eating, it’s safe to add it to his diet. In addition to cereals, he can try a variety of pureed fruits, vegetables and meats.
How many times a day should I feed my baby rice cereal?
Aim to feed your baby rice cereal no more than once a day—a serving is about 1/4 cup. Supplement with other baby cereal options, like whole grain, oatmeal, quinoa and barley. These grains have the same benefits of rice cereal, but with significantly less arsenic.
Once your baby has graduated from the blander cereals, it’s time to have some fun in the kitchen with homemade baby food bursting with new flavors.
When can I start feeding my baby rice cereal?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping breast milk or formula as your baby’s primary source of nutrition until she is six months old. Some babies are ready to start solid foods as early as four months. Here are a few ways to tell if she’s ready. If you think it’s time, talk with your pediatrician about how to get started.
What brand of rice cereal should I buy?
Look for rice cereals that are fortified with iron. Rice is naturally low in iron, and your baby will need this nutrient as he grows. Earth’s Best and Gerber both offer organic rice cereals fortified with extra nutrients.
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