Arsenic is naturally found in soil and water, however it can become concentrated due to conventional farming practices. When pesticides and herbicides are used on fields, the runoff contaminates the soil and local water with arsenic. This irrigation water is then flooded over the rice fields for long periods of time. Arsenic accumulates in the soil and water, and rice absorbs more arsenic compared to other crops. Even organically grown rice is susceptible to high levels of arsenic contamination because of the necessary growing environment, and the high levels of pesticide runoff in our modern environment. Both white and brown rice were found to contain arsenic in recent studies.
((High levels of arsenic damages the nervous system. It can cause poor concentration and memory, and reduced intelligence. Furthermore, moms who eat a high arsenic diet while pregnant have babies with much higher rates of respiratory complications.))
- Fortified With Synthetic Iron
And for all of those reasons, we chose to skip it for our precious little guys.
So now that we’ve covered why rice baby cereal isn’t the best first food for baby, what is?
This NurturMe brand wasn’t available to give my boys, but I absolutely would have considered using this organic quinoa blend with breast milk when they were showing developmental signs of being ready for more. Sitting up on their own, reaching for utensils, bringing hands to mouth, cut first tooth, and lots of saliva… this happened around 9 months for both my boys 💙
Nutrient dense foods are perfect for your little one. Grains, nuts, and seeds shouldn’t be given until after age 1 (we chose 2) and only if properly prepared. Below are some additional foods that are great to start with that will nourish your baby’s brain and development. Be sure to always opt for pastured and toxin free animal products.
There have been some magnificent discussions on breastfeeding, safer formula swaps, baby food making, and baby led weaning… but I was most recently asked about my thoughts on infant rice cereal.
❗️This post is most certainly not to tell you whats “right” or “wrong”. All us mamas are just trying to do our best, am I right?!
Here are a few reasons why we did choose to skip cereal and introduce nutrient dense foods instead.
First lets look at what infant cereal is…
It’s usually made from white rice, which has almost no nutritional value. As a result, it’s fortified with synthetically produced vitamins, like ferrous sulfate (iron), folic acid (vitamin B9), and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Some manufacturers are offering organic rice baby cereal, but unfortunately it’s not much better. The baby cereal may be from brown rice but it’s processed into a flake so that it’s quick to prepare (which spikes blood sugar levels) and is smooth for baby’s palate.
Amylase is the enzyme that’s necessary to digest starches and grains, like rice cereal. Babies begin to produce salivary amylase as early as 6 months, when rice cereal is typically introduced, however they don’t develop pancreatic amylase, the powerhouse of carbohydrate digestion, until 8 months on average.
🥣 Rice Cereal Is…
- Highly Refined
- Low in Nutrition
- Full of Folic Acid
I’ve mentioned that rice baby cereal is high in synthetic vitamins that are hard to digest and not bioavailable, but folic acid can be even more damaging. Folate is a necessary nutrient, while folic acid is it’s synthetic, manufactured replacement. It can cause thyroid damage and health issues for the estimated 50% of the population with MTHFR mutations.