Sometime in your baby’s first year of life, you’ll make the leap from liquid nourishment (breastmilk or formula) to solid foods. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends introducing solids around 6 months of age. Some babies may not be ready to try solid foods at 6 months, and that’s OK too. For many years, the gold standard of baby’s first food has been white rice cereal. The thought has been that rice cereal is bland and easy to digest. However, in recent years, pediatricians, nutrition experts, and parents have been sounding off against white rice cereal — and for good reason.
White rice cereal is a processed (read: junk) food that is devoid of nearly any nutrition. Alan Greene, MD, FAAP, and the voice behind drgreene.com, says about white rice cereal:
“We call it cereal, but it’s processed white flour with added iron. … Metabolically, it’s similar to eating sugar.”
Dr. Greene initiated a campaign called the WhiteOut movement in which he educates and urges parents to feed their babies real first foods, like vegetables and fruit, or whole grains, like brown rice or whole oats. The difference between brown rice and white rice is bigger than you may think. White rice is a processed food that is created by removing the bran and germ portions of brown rice. Removing these portions of the rice removes fiber, vitamins, and minerals. What’s left is a high starch, high carbohydrate, low nutrient food.
So what is a good first baby food? If you’re intent on using cereal, choose the whole grain baby cereals — or make your own! An even better path is to skip the cereals altogether and feed baby mashed avocado, banana, cooked sweet potato, or cooked pear. These pureed foods, mixed together with a small amount of breastmilk or formula, make the perfect first meal for your baby.
What did you feed your baby first?