When it comes to baby cereal in particular, the AAP recommends that whatever brand parents or caregivers choose, it should be iron-fortified.
When considering the brand of baby cereal that’s right for you, you may want to think about personal preferences such as price, ingredient integrity, sugar content and additional vitamins provided.
Rice Cereal: Should You Worry About Arsenic?
Rice cereal has long been the go-to for many families when it comes to introducing a baby to solid foods. Some of the reasons behind its popularity include:
- It’s easy to digest
- It does not tend to trigger an allergic reaction as gluten or wheat can
- It’s typically well tolerated by babies who are transitioning from breast milk or formula to solid food.
However, there has been some scrutiny around rice cereal as of late,
While research suggests fortified rice cereal is the most commonly introduced solid food during infancy, experts now recommend exercising caution. “While fortified rice cereal provides iron—a critical micronutrient for overall growth and for the development of the brain and immune system, and a micronutrient nearly one in five infants is deficient in—fortified rice cereal has also been found to contain up to six times as much inorganic arsenic as other grain-based cereals,” explains Malkani.
“Heavy metals are ubiquitous in the environment and in our soil, but because of the way rice is grown, it absorbs about ten times as much inorganic arsenic as other grains,” continues Malkani. “Given that babies have small bodies and high nutrient needs, and that excessive early exposure to arsenic is associated with lower IQ, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and a higher risk of some cancers, it’s wise to choose alternatives to infant rice cereal that are less likely to contain excessive amounts of arsenic, including fortified cereals made from buckwheat, millet, barley, quinoa, oats and wheat.”
While choosing the right baby cereal may feel a little overwhelming for parents given the amount of choices that do contain rice, it’s important to note that in most cases, the amount of arsenic from rice food products is small and should not cause any symptoms in children.
Introducing your child to a varied diet as soon as they are able to eat solid foods is a great way to keep them as healthy as possible.