One of the biggest blindly accepted misconceptions is the idea that a baby should eat cereal. What’s worse, it is said to be good for the baby. As if it’s not bad enough that many pediatricians recommend that a baby is to be started on solids at 4 months old, they are saying that cereal is the perfect first food. Even worse: most say to start your baby on rice cereal. I have done my research, and this is what I have found.
So let’s get to the point.
Why is cereal so bad?
It’s hard for a baby to digest.
This should be the main reason why you shouldn’t even consider giving your baby cereal. For your body to be able to digest grains, your body must be able to produce an enzyme called amylase, which a baby does not have until they are at least a year old or even up to two years old! Babies start to make a small amount of salivary amylase at about 6 months old. However, pancreatic amylase to actually digest grains is not produced until molar teeth are fully developed, which is on average from 12-19 months old. Undigested grains can harm your baby’s intestinal lining, which can throw off the balance of bacteria in their gut and lead to lots of complications later in life. Some of these complications are behavioral problems, mood issues and food allergies.
You’re feeding them something bad in place of something good that they could be eating instead.
When you feed your baby these indigestible foods, you could be giving your baby food that has more nutrition in it that he could actually absorb into his body.
What else should I know?
Traditional cultures don’t do it.
Traditional cultures do not give babies infant formula. As a matter of fact, they do not give their children grains until they’re over a year old. When they do, they make sure to mildly ferment the oats by letting them soak for 24 hours or longer.
Oats are bad, rice is worse, corn is worst.
If you are absolutely hell-bent on giving your child cereal, please give them oats. Oats, rice, and corn are all hard or impossible for a baby to digest but at least oats are not empty calories. Corn is the worst because even adults cannot completely digest it. Oats, of course, are still not digestible so I’m not recommending it, but at least there’s more nutrition in it. If you do decide to give your baby rice, give them homemade brown rice.
Doctors don’t know everything.
Of course you should listen to your pediatrician, but also listen to YOURSELF! Do your research. The doctors are the experts, but they are only going by guidelines that are in place at that time, or even guidelines that are out of date that they either don’t know have changed or don’t care have change. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics say to encourage parents to introduce solids at age 6 months, but a lot of pediatricians still recommend starting your baby on cereal at 4 months old. Wrong and wrong!
Doctors suggest grains because they’re hypoallergenic and because they’re high in iron.
Okay, great! This sounds like a perfect plan. However, it’s not. The cons outweigh the pros, especially since a lot of that iron is just pooped out anyways because she couldn’t digest the grains!
What do I do now?
If you understand and believe that you should not give your baby grains until they are at least a year old, that is great! Other than the obvious (baby cereal) some other things that your baby should not have are (adult) rice cereal, gold fish, cheerios, corn flakes, (adult) oatmeal, infant crackers/cookies, breads or anything else that is made from wheat, rice, or corn.
If your doctor tells you to start your baby on cereal because it is high in iron, but you don’t want to give your baby grains, here are a few other foods that are also high in iron that you could incorporate into your baby’s daily diet (please check to make sure WHEN you can introduce these foods to your baby!!!):
- breast milk (of course) and it’s the best!
- green peas
- sweet potatoes
- dried beans
- dulse flakes
- winter squash (like butternut squash)
- egg yolks
- bananas (low in iron, but still good)
- apples (low in iron, but still good)
- raspberries & blackberries (low in iron, but still good)
- meat & poultry
- pumpkin seeds
- dried fruit
- sardines, canned salmon
Thank you for reading my blog and I hope it has been informative. Please feel free to comment and ask questions. If I can, I’ll be happy to answer them.