In the past, baby rice cereal was a common choice for baby’s first food. However, we now know baby rice cereal is not a healthy choice for babies. So, when can baby eat cooked rice? Is cooked rice a healthy choice for babies?
Many people around the world eat rice on a daily basis. But if you want to make the very best health and nutrition decisions for your baby, this article will be right up your alley.
When Can Baby Eat Cooked Rice?
Before you introduce any solid foods to your baby, including cooked rice, your baby needs to be able to fulfil these criteria:
A baby who is developmentally ready for solids will have:
- An increased ability to sit upright without support
- Lost his tongue-extrusion reflex (this reflex makes a baby stick his tongue out in response to food being put into his mouth)
- The ability to reach for food and put it into his mouth
- Readiness to chew
Generally, this happens at around 6 months of age for most babies. Breastmilk or formula is the only thing babies need until then – it provides them with all the nutrition they need, without anything else.
Baby’s first foods needn’t be bland or pureed – it’s just not necessary. Some of the things we do today are based on old ways of life. For example, when baby rice cereal was invented, parents were giving it to babies at around 6-12 weeks of age – something we know not to do now!
Also, in the past, cereals, dehydrated and canned foods were popular, due to lack of refrigeration. Obviously, this is no longer an issue today, but we still tend use these foods out of habit.
Can My 6 Month Old Have Rice?
After six months of age, in addition to breastmilk and or formula, babies need iron rich sources of food, as their own iron stores need topping up.
This is especially the case if your baby had immediate cord clamping at birth. It’s estimated that around one third of a baby’s blood volume is in the placenta – cutting the cord too soon means this blood (and the iron stores contained in it) isn’t received by your baby. Find out more about the importance of delaying cord clamping.
The most important thing for your baby is to be able to access natural, easily absorbable sources of iron and zinc. Meat plays a big role in this. Milk will continue to be the main source of food until 12 months of age – as they say, food before one is just for fun! But it’s important to choose those first foods wisely.
Avocado and wild salmon are great first foods which are packed with nutrients, as well as healthy fats for brain development.
The short answer is yes, your baby can have cooked rice at six months of age. However, if you can, try other nutritious foods first.
In fact, your baby can try any of the foods you eat at the family dinner table, aside from honey (can pose a bacterial infection risk – wait until 12 months of age).
For a list of first foods which are ideal for your baby, see our article, Starting Solids.
Can My 9 Month Old Have Cooked Rice?
Babies can eat cooked rice from six months of age, as long as they are developmentally ready for solids.
So yes, your 9 month old can safely eat cooked rice.
Can Babies Choke On Rice?
As a parent, it can be nerve-racking introducing new foods to your baby. Especially when we hear so many stories of babies choking on foods like grapes.
Foods which are a choking risk simple need common sense. For example, when your child is ready to eat grapes, cut them in half long ways.
So, can babies choke on rice?
As long as your baby is around 6 months of age and developmentally ready for solids, rice should not be a choking risk. Always supervise your baby during meal times, and if in doubt, check with your health nurse, paediatrician or nutritionist.
Is White Rice Good For Babies?
White rice is a very common food around the world – a kitchen staple! But is white rice good for babies?
While it will temporarily fill tummies, white rice is not really a healthy choice for babies (or adults either!). With very little nutrition and a lot of starch and carbohydrates, not to mention arsenic, there are plenty of foods which will provide nutrition and help your baby thrive, without spiking blood sugar levels.
Because babies primarily drink milk and eat so little in the way of solid foods, it’s important to make those solid foods count. As mentioned earlier, foods rich in iron and zinc are key. It’s important for brain development and red blood cell production, which is so important for so many bodily functions.
Arsenic In Rice
Recently, some organisations have highlighted arsenic levels in rice products are of concern. Some groups have advised parents to avoid feeding babies rice (including baby rice cereal) for this reason.
The American Academy of Pediatrics published a statement about arsenic in rice, saying, “Rice contains a high amount of arsenic. A natural element, arsenic is found in water, air and soil. It is linked to skin, lung, liver, kidney and bladder cancer. Arsenic exposure also may cause problems during pregnancy and developmental problems at birth.”
Rice readily absorbs arsenic from the soil and water it grows in. Brown rice is actually worse – it contains more arsenic than white rice, as the arsenic gets trapped in the fibrous hull. So if you do choose to feed your baby rice or rice cereal, be sure to keep it minimal, and avoid using it as a staple food if possible.
BellyBelly highly recommends the book Baby Led Weaning – The Essential Guide by Jill Rapely.