Cereals are often the first choice of meals to introduce to a baby’s diet when the baby is ready to move forward from breast milk and strict liquid. The time to introduce solid meals to baby diet has often times been debated with some parents giving acceptable time to be between four to six months, while others believe six months is best as babies often show signs of readiness for solids foods.
Since pediatricians’ recommendation of baby cereal as first food really has been greeted with disapproval by some people there have been questions as to whether cereals are the best solid meals for babies.
Baby cereals are usually made from white rice, it’s fortified with synthetically produced vitamins, like ferrous sulfate (iron), folic acid (vitamin B9) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).
Most pediatricians recommend starting rice baby cereal at about 4-6 months old for baby’s first food. Some doctors will recommend it even earlier as a way to help newborns sleep. Mom’s are urged to add a little rice baby-cereal and formula to baby’s bottle as a way to keep him full and sleep through the night. There are a few problems with this recommendation though. Even Gerber, the popular baby food manufacturer recommends against putting rice cereal in your baby’s food.
Some mothers who spoke with LEADERSHIP Weekend expressed mixed feelings as to how introduction of cereals has affected their babies.
Mrs. Mairo Zakari, a mother of three children between the ages of 10 to two in Lokogoma Abuja, explained that she has fed most of her children with cereals between six months to two years of age, noting that it was not a problem for her except for the initial inability for the children to digest the meals due to the change from liquid to solid meals.
Another mother, Mrs. Philomena Bako, in Apo area of Abuja, explained that it was a major problem for her to choose which cereals to feed her 10 month old baby with as he showed signs of allergies and it was difficult to settle on any.
Study has shown babies who were fed rice baby cereal before four months slept less than the babies who weren’t fed solids.
How to introduce solid diet for babies
Gently cook egg yolk in butter and serve chopped or mixed with other food. Add a little unrefined sea salt for taste and minerals. Don’t do egg white until after one year.
Organic beef liver grated or pureed
Pureed pastured/organic meats
Mashed ripe fruit like avocado and banana. Fruits high in pectin like apples, pears, peaches and plums should be cooked.
Earth’s Best Organic Baby Cereal
Like the Gerber options, this comes in several varieties including Oatmeal, Brown Rice (what they call “whole grain rice”), Oatmeal with Banana, and Whole Grain. The Oatmeal variety says it may contain traces of wheat/gluten, but the Brown Rice version is gluten free.
Choosing Rice Cereals
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 modern environment. Both white and brown rice were found to contain arsenic as such when shopping for cereals it is important to take these into consideration.
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