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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Are we feeding our babies the right thing?

For some years now, rice cereal has been the recommended first choice of food for babies ready to start eating solids. Rice cereal has been historically chosen as a baby's first food for several reasons. Texture wise, it is extremely smooth and hence associated with literally no risk of choking. Rice cereal is fortified with iron, one of the key nutrients babies need after they reach the age of 6 months, as it is at this time that their iron stores begin to deplete and rice cereal is associated with an extremely low allergy risk.

I ask you though, how appropriate is it for babies from a European background to have rice as their first food? Rice cereal has a high glycaemic index, meaning eating it results in a relatively high secretion of insulin, the hormone we know to play a significant role in regulating fat cell development and size. I am unsure as to why, given that rice is not naturally high in iron that that would be our choice of first food for our precious babies? Would we not be a better option nutritionally to offer babies pureed vegetables or even oats; which are much higher in iron than rice cereal and then get the babies onto pureed meat ASAP?

While global manufactuers of rice cereal would strongly argue against this idea, I know what I will be giving my baby.