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Is it safe to feed my baby rice cereal?

Is it safe to feed my baby rice cereal?


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There are better options. High levels of inorganic arsenic, which can cause health problems later in life, have been found in baby rice cereal. Safer first foods include iron-fortified cereals made from other grains, such as oats or barley, and pureed meats, fruits, and vegetables.

How does arsenic get in rice cereal?

Arsenic is a common metal that has two forms – organic and inorganic – and many foods and beverages contain both forms in varying levels.

Arsenic is naturally present in water, soil, and air, but processes such as mining, manufacturing, and pesticide use have increased the level of inorganic arsenic in the environment.

Rice can contain high amounts of inorganic arsenic (which is the kind that worries experts) because rice plants tend to absorb arsenic more readily than other plants.

What are the dangers of arsenic in my baby's food?

Inorganic arsenic is more toxic than organic arsenic and can cause certain cancers. Early exposure to arsenic is also associated with cognitive problems, such as lower IQ.

There's a greater risk of experiencing adverse health effects from exposure to inorganic arsenic during pregnancy, infancy, and early childhood, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

This problem is compounded because babies eat three times more rice in relation to their weight than adults do, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Doesn't rice cereal provide nutrients my baby needs?

Iron-fortified rice cereal has fewer nutrients overall than healthy first foods such as pureed meats and vegetables. Serving a variety of foods will naturally provide a range of nutrients.

The AAP says rice cereal doesn't offer any nutritional advantage over other grains, so opt for iron-fortified baby cereals made from non-rice whole grains, like oats or barley.

Isn't rice cereal a good first food because it's bland?

It's a myth that bland food is better for babies. Babies all over the world eat a range of flavorful foods. Some experts believe exposure to a variety of flavors early on can even discourage picky eating later.

What is the FDA doing about arsenic in baby rice cereal?

The FDA has been testing foods for arsenic since 1991 and issued draft guidance in 2016 proposing a limit on the amount of inorganic arsenic that should be found in rice cereal for infants. (This is not a legal requirement like the limits the FDA sets for arsenic in water.)

The AAP supports the FDA's proposed limit.

How can I limit arsenic in my child's diet?

  • Opt for iron-fortified infant cereal made with non-rice whole grains such as oats or barley.
  • Feed your child a variety of foods.
  • Cook rice in plenty of water (about six to 10 parts water to one part rice), and then drain it well. This will help wash away some of the arsenic.
  • If you feed your baby rice cereal, limit the amount and choose a brand with the lowest level of arsenic. Contact the manufacturer for information about their products.
  • For toddlers, do not use rice milk as a substitute for cow's milk (wait until your baby is at least 12 months old before introducing cow's milk).
  • For kids of all ages, avoid foods sweetened with rice syrup.

Note: The AAP recommends breast milk or formula as your baby's sole source of nutrition for the first 6 months, though some babies may be ready for solids as early as 4 months.

Do other foods and drinks contain arsenic?

Yes. Contaminated drinking water is the most common source of high levels of inorganic arsenic. The metal has also been found in some fruit juices and produce. And any product that's made from rice, such as rice milk or rice syrup, is also a potential source of arsenic.


Watch the video: How To Start Solids For Your 4 Month Old Baby - By Dr. Tahir (November 2022).

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