Delaying solids and avoiding baby cereal is important in the health of babies…

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Ingredients

RICE FLOUR, CALCIUM CARBONATE, AND LESS THAN 2% OF: SOY LECITHIN, TUNA OIL (SOURCE OF DHA), POTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, FISH GELATIN (TILAPIA), B Lactis Cultures, ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), ELECTROLYTIC IRON, ZINC SULFATE, ALPHA TOCOPHERYL ACETATE (VITAMIN E), NIACINAMIDE (A B VITAMIN), RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), THIAMIN MONONITRATE (VITAMIN B1), PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6), VITAMIN B12, FOLIC ACID (A B VITAMIN).

This is the ingredients of rice cereal taken straight off of the Gerber website.

In my quest to find research based advice on the subject of all things parenting, I am on a mission to read labels. You will notice that this “rice” cereal l actually doesn’t contain rice, but rice FLOUR. Way back when I started my college career, I took a nutrition class. There I learned that on food labels, the first ingredient listed is what makes up the majority of the product. Most consumers don’t realize this. So when you feed rice cereal, you are feeding your baby some flour with a bunch of additives, or fillers. It’s nutritionally void. Better options are available.

Dr. Alan Greene, a clinical professor at Stanford University School of Medicine, is on a mission to educate parents about better feeding practices and, in turn, lowering obesity rates. In his “White Paper” http://www.drgreene.com/ebooks/white_paper_white_rice_cereal.pdf , he states that the first foods that we feed our babies is what sets the standard for healthy eating habits:

“It should come as no surprise, then, that when the U.S. Department of Agriculture and

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported in 2011 the top source of

calories throughout all of childhood from age 2 through 18, in this our most obese

generation in history, the top culprit was empty calories from refined grain treats.xxv

Given that the predominant paradigm of giving processed white rice flour cereal to

babies lacks adequate scientific justification, and given that this practice could be

predicted to result in unhealthy eating patterns that we see throughout childhood, and

given that our current feeding methodologies have been accompanied by an

unprecedented wave of overweigh and obese babies, the time has come to abandon white

rice cereal in favor of healthier choices for babies.”

Additionally, rice cereal is linked to a higher risk of diabetes.

Processed refined grains, including white rice, have been linked to altered metabolic

effects including serum insulin spikes. Could this lead to insulin resistance or even type 2
diabetes?

That’s just what a 2010 Harvard study suggests. Researchers at the Harvard School of

Public Health analyzed rice eating and diabetes in about 200,000 people. 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. Separately, those who ate 2 or more

servings of brown rice a week had an 11 % decrease of type 2 diabetes. But the biggest

difference came in those who chose brown rice or another whole grain instead of white

rice – with up to a 36% reduced risk.xxxii”

The reason that this occurs is because the body needs pancreatic amylase to break down grains. Babies do not produce amylase fully until around 18-24 months, and when they are fed rice cereal before that time, it causes a spike in blood sugar levels, which can lead to pancreatic failure & diabetes later in life. Since babies cannot digest rice cereal, it sits in their gut and rots. This can lead to digestive problems, immediate and long term, and can lead to a very unhappy baby, despite the nay-sayers who claim that “their babies ate it and turned out just fine”….just please don’t even get me started on THAT argument! Babies’ guts only contain one carbohydrate enzyme: lactase. This is biological proof that babies only need breast milk until they are at least a year old.

So if we’re not feeding rice cereal, what foods should we start with?
The following health organizations, as well as the CDC, recommend delaying solids until AT LEAST six months, and then solids should GRADUALLY be introduced:
World Health Organization
American Academy of Pediatrics
UNICEF
American Academy of Family Physicians
Australian National Health and Medical Research Council
Health Canada
http://kellymom.com/nutrition/starting-solids/delay-solids/

A recent article in the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/health/many-babies-fed-solid-food-too-soon-cdc-finds.html?_r=0 suggests that some moms give their babies food too early to help them to sleep, however, this can be a dangerous practice. Adding rice cereal to a bottle is outright dangerous. Not only is it a choking hazard, but when babies are manipulated into sleeping longer, it greatly increases the chance of SIDS.

I prefer baby led solids (or baby led weaning) for my family. Some of the foods that are considered to be good first foods are:
avocados
sweet potatoes
pumpkin
peas
mangos

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About Latch The Babes

I am a crunchy mama of four children who is passionate about providing research based breastfeeding education. I live in Mississippi with my husband, Brian, my three sons, Gabe, Justin, & Bryson, and my daughter, Kynli, who I often refer to as "Miss Ma'am". I breastfed all of my boys and Miss Ma'am is still going strong! I worked as a lactation specialist with WIC for a few years and am currently working on my IBCLC requirements. I have been involved with La Leche League since my oldest son was born in 1997.

14 responses »

  1. My mom wants me to start introducing jarred baby food because my 12 week old holds a high interest in peoples food. When he was younger my aunt thought it was funny to rub her sucker on hia lips and tongue. How do I politely go about telling people, again, that I want to wait until at LEAST 6 months before I introduce any food other than breastmilk?

  2. I totally. Made the mistake of giving Leila cereal ONCE when recommended by my doctor. She was constipated for 8 days, and it was pure torture! (Id love to win an amber teething necklace!)

  3. Couldn’t agree more. Thanks for the websites. I’ve been preaching this but had no articles to back it up 🙂

  4. Sad that the general belief is based on such misinformation. I’m not sure if its a cultural thing but I always hear to put rice cereal in bottles as early as 3months. I was trying to teach my baby to drink out of a bottle instead of breast for this reason. I couldn’t and spoon fed him it a couple times at 4 months, which my pediatrician said was ok. I soon came across all this information online on various accounts. I stopped immediately and just now am starting to puree veggies for my 6 month old. I started with squash and am thinking of sweet potatoes or avocado next. I hear mangos are tropical and shouldnt be a first food? You are doing a great thing by spreading this information on so many sites fb, ig, etc.. people need to be informed and not just follow whats the norm right now and maybe the right way will be the norm some day soon !

  5. After reading this it just pushed breastfeed even more for me! I am determined to self wean and go for as long as I can and hopefully not even have to buy a single jar of baby food or cereal. I keep my diet clean, healthy, and organic for my breast milk why should I change it when she starts to eat things on her own.

  6. I never realized pumpkin would be a good first food too! Definitely think I will have to try that one when the time comes. Thanks for sharing this 🙂

  7. Awesome post! I’m getting so excited to start baby led weaning! But I’m also sad cause my little baby is growing up! 😦

  8. I totally agree with this article! Can I share it at our Spanish blog for AP?

    Also, I don’t want to feed my baby rice cereal even though my pediatrician insist on starting her with that next month (she is 5 months old this week). I want to wait until she is 6 months to start her solid but she has a problem with spitting up all the time after she is fed (only breast milk). My pediatrician told me it is probably because she has reflux or something in her digestive system hasn’t developed completely so she recommended to give her rice cereal. I don’t want to because i don’t want to give her anything that is processed. The nurse suggested only giving her a little bit before going to sleep, like to spoons, because the cereal is heavy and will make her keep her food down. I researched cereal and I think Earth’s Best is a good choice, my question is would you recommend it?

    • Yes! Absolutely share it!!
      If it were me, I would skip the rice cereal altogether! If you must feed something for the reflux, I would opt for homemade oatmeal cereal instead. I don’t like the organic cereal either, and they’ve been known to contain higher amounts of arsenic than regular cereal. I just wouldn’t feed it, organic or not!
      Here is a link to a good homemade oatmeal cereal recipe. But of course, I prefer the baby led weaning approach and don’t feed purée at all, and with my daughter I opted to wait until 9-10 months before starting solids, and she is my healthiest child! If your baby is only spitting up & not having a lot of pain, I doubt that its necessary to give cereal. Spit up is ok! Babies digest breastmilk so easily that he is probably retaining all of the nutrients.
      http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/cereals.htm

      • Thank you! This is a lot of help 🙂 I am also researching about baby led weaning, I have a friend that told me about it and I am very interested in trying it out, let me know if you have any suggestions or an article about it.

  9. Pingback: The List of Information I Wish I Had When I was Pregnant | #BabyBane

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