Why Are You Feeding Baby Rice Cereal?

It’s time to stop feeding babies rice cereal.

I’m serious.

Put down that box of “rice cereal” and walk away.

Rice cereal is BAD for your baby. Rice cereal is probably at the root of the obesity epidemic in children.

Why? Think about what you know about healthy, nutritious foods. We know we’re supposed to be eating whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Do you know what rice cereal is?

NONE OF THOSE THINGS.

Rice cereal is processed, pressed, milled, sealed, fillers, shelf-stable for months or years. I don’t eat that kind of food. Doctors tell you not to eat that kind of food. Why do baby doctors tell you to feed your baby that kind of food? It goes against everything you know about what food is: real, whole, unprocessed, fresh, in its original state, no added ingredients, no fillers, something that eventually decomposes. Rice cereal is white flour with iron added back in.

How They Make Rice Cereal

The box of rice cereal says it’s fortified with a dozen vitamins and minerals and won’t expire for another two years. Two years. How they make rice cereal: the whole grain of rice is stripped of its nutritious shell, processed, and vitamins and minerals are added to try to make it worth something again (because they took out what was good and integral, and had to add a synthetic version back in.) White and starchy–what you’re supposed to avoid. Vitamins and minerals that your baby probably can’t even absorb because it doesn’t come from real food.

Well, My Pediatrician Said…

But the AAP, the American Academy of Pediatrics said,

“For a baby’s first food, rice cereal is not as nutritious as other food options and only became popular in the past 30 to 35 years because it was thought to be the least allergenic of the cereals, Dr. Greer noted. Other options for a first weaning food include red meat, which Dr. Greer said contains the iron and zinc that breastfeeding babies in particular are lacking after six months of breastfeeding.”

Ask your pediatrician why their professional organization calls rice cereal “not as nutritious as other food options.” Point your pediatrician to White Out, where they might be able to look at the evidence for themselves.

It’s Refined White Flour Cereal

Giving your baby a spoonful of rice cereal is practically like giving your baby a spoonful of sugar. Refined carbohydrates are bad for all of us, let alone your baby.

Rice cereal makes no sense. And I’m not the only one. Dr. Alan Greene, a well-known pediatrician, has made it his mission to get the White Out of our babies’ diets. He thinks rice cereal is at the root of our nation’s childhood obesity epidemic, and I don’t think he’s wrong.

“Rice cereal isn’t just babies’ first food. In the US, this processed white flour is the number one carb eaten by babies from the first bite to the first birthday (It’s the #1 food carb, behind formula, but ahead of breast milk. And average babies get about twice as many carbs for the entire first year from rice cereal than from any solid real food.)…Processed white flour is the single largest food influence on taste preferences and metabolism during the entire first year. It’s no wonder we have a snowballing obesity and diabetes epidemic…Kids born in the 60s, and just before and just after, usually had parents who were still raised on real food. Many of these babies did come to prefer processed foods, but not in excessive amounts and their metabolisms were mostly able to handle it.
However, when they grew up and started to have children of their own, this generation was exposed to heavily processed food both in the womb and in their earliest direct food exposures. This was when the childhood obesity epidemic started to take off.
Obesity is a very complex issue, but we know that the it’s strongly influenced in the womb. With the obesity epidemic starting in the 80s, the question isn’t just what was new about babies then, but also what was new about mothers then. For one thing, it was the first generation of mothers whose tastes and metabolisms were influenced by white rice baby cereal.”

Rice cereal in your baby’s bottle?

The number of babies who actually benefit from rice cereal in their bottles is tiny compared with the number who get it. There are a lot of studies out there that show how putting rice cereal in your baby’s bottle is leading to obesity, constipation, and asthma. Unless your baby is literally vomiting so much they have stopped gaining weight, it’s probably a bad idea (and I’d really give a pediatrician who recommended it to keep a baby sleeping long at night, a kick in the butt and a pink slip.) If you have a doctor that recommends rice cereal in your baby’s bottle, ask them to back up their recommendations with evidence.

The Arsenic in Rice Cereal

And then there’s the whole arsenic thing, you know, where rice cereal has high rates of arsenic. Literally poison in our babies’ food.

What Should I Feed My Baby Instead of Rice Cereal?

What about actual vegetables and fruits? How about soft meat, like from stews, cut into bite sized pieces, and let baby feed himself? What about oatmeal, or steel-cut oats? Whatever fresh fruits and vegetables you have with dinner, like avocados, red peppers, pears, peas, broccoli, peaches, carrots, chicken, celery, beans, beef, barley, quinoa, squash, green beans, and actual whole foods.

So Why Are You Feeding Baby Rice Cereal?

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