Why I don’t recommend rice cereal

People are always asking what to start their baby on when they start solids. A common thing I get asked about is Rice cereal.  Rice cereal has really no nutritional benefit what-so-ever.  It purely is just adding calories to your babies diet.  Additionally, there have been studies showing how rice products have high levels of arsenic in it.  From Consumer Reports:

Arsenic not only is a potent human carcinogen but also can set up children for other health problems in later life.

Following our January investigation, “Arsenic in Your Juice,” which found arsenic in apple and grape juices, we recently tested more than 200 samples of a host of rice products. They included iconic labels and store brands, organic products and conventional ones; some were aimed at the booming gluten-free market.

The results of our tests were even more troubling in some ways than our findings for juice. In virtually every product tested, we found measurable amounts of total arsenic in its two forms. We found significant levels of inorganic arsenic, which is a carcinogen, in almost every product category, along with organic arsenic, which is less toxic but still of concern. Moreover, the foods we checked are popular staples, eaten by adults and children alike. See the chart summarizing results of our tests for arsenic in rice or rice products.

Though rice isn’t the only dietary source of arsenic—some vegetables, fruits, and even water can harbor it—the Environmental Protection Agency assumes there is actually no “safe” level of exposure to inorganic arsenic.

Another question I get asked a lot is when should you introduce solids?   I do not recommend adding any solids until at least 6 months of age.  There are even sources that say to wait until children are around 1. Think of it this way, food before one is just for fun.  So try not to stress over getting your child to eat.  If he or she is not showing any interest in it, do not force the issue.  One big thing you want to make sure of is that your baby can sit up on his/her own.  If you breast feed, it is always recommended to nurse your baby first because it is your babies single most important food until they turn one.

What do I recommend as a first food?   With Harper, we started with Avocados.  You can mash up avocados pretty easily and they actually are a great super food full of good fats and nutrients!  As with any first food, you want to really milk it down.  Whether you breast feed or use formula add a little of each of those to your introductory foods.  The better the baby gets, the thicker you make the food.  You can even mash up the avocado and put it in the babies bottle, just be sure to use a nipple that allows a stronger flow because of the thickened milk.  Below is a list of foods that I would recommend.  They say that you should introduce one food every 2 weeks.

  1. Avocado
  2. Sweet Potato
  3. Butternut Squash
  4. Bananas
  5. Green Beans
  6. Carrots
  7. Egg yolk
  8. Bone Broth

***It is important to note that if you or your family has a history of any food allergies, it is better to be safe and not try any of those foods until your child is at least one.  What we did with Harper was when we knew we were going to go to the pediatrician that day we would introduce foods that are common allergies like almond butter, eggs, strawberries, fish, etc.

***The American Academy of Pediatrics***

  • “Pediatricians and parents should be aware that exclusive breastfeeding is sufficient to support optimal growth and development for approximately the first 6 months of life and provides continuing protection against diarrhea and respiratory tract infection. Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child.
    • Complementary foods rich in iron should be introduced gradually beginning around 6 months of age. Preterm and low birth weight infants and infants with hematologic disorders or infants who had inadequate iron stores at birth generally require iron supplementation before 6 months of age. Iron may be administered while continuing exclusive breastfeeding.
    • Unique needs or feeding behaviors of individual infants may indicate a need for introduction of complementary foods as early as 4 months of age, whereas other infants may not be ready to accept other foods until approximately 8 months of age.
    • Introduction of complementary feedings before 6 months of age generally does not increase total caloric intake or rate of growth and only substitutes foods that lack the protective components of human milk.
    • During the first 6 months of age, even in hot climates, water and juice are unnecessary for breastfed infants and may introduce contaminants or allergens.
    • Increased duration of breastfeeding confers significant health and developmental benefits for the child and the mother, especially in delaying return of fertility (thereby promoting optimal intervals between births).
    • There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychological or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.
    • Infants weaned before 12 months of age should not receive cow’s milk but should receive iron-fortified infant formula.”

Good Fats vs. Bad Fats

Non-fat, reduced fat, and fat-free are all things we tend to see a lot of on our food labels.   Fat, when it’s the right kind, is very important for your body to function properly.  Most of the time when you see the above labels they are being altered by some form of chemical or processed sugar to make them that way.  It is extremely important to be getting enough fat in your diet, especially when you are trying to get pregnant, are pregnant, or are breast feeding.  The reason being that good fat is essential for brain and eye development and health.  For the mom’s to be and breast feeding mom’s, instead of supplementing you can eat one avocado and 3 tablespoons of coconut oil a day to get the fat your body needs.  Another popular way to get your good fats are by supplementing with omega 3’s, flax seed or fish oil; it is recommended that you take 1-3 grams/day.  Other natural sources of good fats are walnuts, olives, hazelnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, sesame seeds, salmon, cod, halibut, and olive oil to name a few. Another good tip is when cooking with oil it is best to use coconut oil, and for cooler temperatures like salads you olive oils are the best!

The main difference between good fats and bad fats is how the body responds and digests them.  Good fats are recognized by the body and are properly processed and digested, where bad fats, like trans fats, end up stimulating the bodies defense mechanisms causing and or leading to inflammation, increased blood pressure, pain, and heart disease.  On a more positive note, even though this may sound strange, good fats can even help you lose weight by stimulating your metabolism!  One common mistake people tend to make is to buy margarine, Smart Balance, or other similar products instead of going for just plain butter (especially grass fed).  Smart Balance and other brands are made chemically, and have little to no real ingredients in them.  Look at the attached pictures of the labels of real butter, margarine, and smart balance.  You go from 2 ingredients (cream and salt) in real butter to around 16 different ingredients in the other two!

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