Baby rice and cereal as a first food – pretty normal, right? Well yes, until a few years ago, baby rice or cereal was the obvious of choice for a baby’s first taste of solids. The reason for this was that there was train of thought that suggested that sticking to very simple foods would reduce the risk of developing allergies. In other words, processed rice cereal had a low allergy risk and it was safer to introduce more nutritious food later in the weaning process.
What the research says about baby rice & cereal as a first food
Research shows that the introduction of foods between 17 and 24 weeks does not increase the risk of allergies to that food. In fact, introducing a food type much later (after 7 months) poses a greater risk for allergies. And surprisingly to some, the research also indicates that early exposure to foods (even through the placenta and breast milk) may be protective against allergies. So, we are no longer avoiding variety and allergens when we start solids. No more baby rice and cereal as a first food!
It’s not only the biological reaction to food that we’re talking about. Findings in the research point to the fact that early exposure to a variety of flavours and foods (i.e. before 7-8 months), decreases the risk of fussy eating in the toddler years. The resounding message is to opt for stronger and more varied tastes than the blandness of rice cereal. Read more about introducing allergens here.
The new approach to first foods
There is a new trend emerging that centers around replicating the nutritional composition of breast milk in first foods. This is specifically in terms of the ratio of carbs versus fats. Breast milk is mostly water with 55% fats, 37% carbs and 8% proteins. Baby rice and cereal is predominately carbohydrates (and processed ones at that) and that is a huge shift for your baby’s gut.
Instead of carb-rich, nutritionally weak foods, we are opting for first foods that are less processed, such as vegetables, fruits and healthy fats such as avocado and nut butters.
Successfully weaning your baby
This new approach to weaning is a huge departure from the thinking of the past. Introducing flavours, variety and allergens early is the logical and healthy way to wean your baby. If you want to introduce healthy grains early, rather look at options such as quinoa, oats and unprocessed rice than baby rice cereal.
Want to know more about successfully weaning your little one? Get your copy of the best selling Weaning Sense book filled with delicious weaning recipes to try. Or sign up for the Weaning Sense online course for a step-by-step guide to weaning straight from the experts. You can also access the course directly from Parent Sense – the all-in-one baby app that takes the guesswork out of parenting.