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Doctors Say Cut White Rice Cereal from Baby's Diet

baby food, infant food

Brown rice farina.

“You gotta give-a tha baby tha Farin!”

That’s what my old Italian neighbor across the street from the house we lived in when my daughter was born used to shout at me.  “You gotta put-a the Farin in-a the bot.”  I never fed my daughter cereal when she was an infant and instead went straight to fruits and vegetables.  Unbeknownst to me, I was on to something.  Doctors are now recommending that parents forgo giving their infants white rice cereal as their first solid food, in hopes that they won’t acquire a taste for “highly processed white rice and flour.”

Alan Greene, a pediatrician at Stanford University’s Lucile Packard Children Hospital, says parents should instead offer brown rice cereals, “or even a homemade brown rice mash or vegetable purée.”  Greene is concerned about the increasing rate of childhood obesity and diabetes, and worries that feeding infants white rice cereal “could set them up for a lifetime of bad habits, such as a weakness for cakes and cookies,” according to USA Today.

David Ludwig, director of the Optimal Weight for Life program at Children’s Hospital Boston, says giving your infant white rice cereal is like feeding them “the nutritional equivalent of table sugar.”  But the USA Rice Federation counters that “white rice has no fat, cholesterol, sodium or gluten, a protein in wheat to which some people are allergic,” says spokeswoman Stacy Fitzgerald-Redd.

Greene suggests that brown rice cereal “offers the advantage of added iron, an important nutrient for babies, especially those who are breast-fed.”  He says, “I don’t want people to feel guilty.  I have four kids and I figured this out just recently.  But it’s time to change.”  No guilt over a parenting decision?  That is a refreshing change!

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