5 Alternatives to Baby Rice Cereal

After the Consumer Report’s study regarding high levels of arsenic in rice (including organic) came out last year, my family decided to cut all rice out of our diets. Coincidently, the same week the study was published my daughter was going to start on baby rice cereal and I had unknowingly purchased one of the brands with the highest levels. Obviously, I disposed of the cereal and began searching for alternative grains. I learned first, that although rice is recommended by almost every pediatrician as a first food due to it’s low risk of allergic reaction and easy digestion, it is not absolutely necessary. Squash, bananas, or sweet potatoes are wonderful first starter foods for baby and substantially more healthy. I also learned about several grains that are perfectly safe for baby and excellent alternatives to rice cereal.

Quinoa is actually not a grain, but rather a seed and is packed with nutritious elements like protein, iron, fiber, and calcium. It is small and round and can be given on it’s own or easily blended into baby’s mashed fruits or vegetables for added texture. Just be sure to thoroughly rinse before preparing as saponins (naturally occurring plant chemicals) can cause a bitter taste.

Amaranth is another seed which is often referred to as a grain. This highly nutritious food is prepared in the same way as rice and is gluten-free. Amaranth is a good source of protein, iron, calcium and fiber.

This small, round, gluten-free seed is great starter food for baby. Prepare is as you would rice or quinoa and use a food processor to create a fine consistency for baby’s cereal.

This nutrient rich whole grain, is closely related to wheat but has significantly more protein (approximately 30% more). It is available in a variety of forms but likely the most easy to prepare for baby would be puffed Kamut. Puffed Kamut also makes a great finger food.

Oats are readily available at almost every supermarket and several organic infant cereal brands offer an oatmeal cereal. They contain protein, calcium, fiber, iron, and several other nutrients. Oatmeal mixes very well with breastmilk to create a nice cereal for baby.
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  1. says

    Thanks for this very timely post…we are just now wading into solid food territory and honestly I already forgot about the arsenic in rice issue.
    It’s a challenge to remain an informed consumer when it comes to the food we eat these days. Thank you!

  2. says

    You might want to look into alternatives to grain-first introduction of solids, too. It was a huge “aha!” for me when I saw it pointed out that grains are the most ILlogical place to start with solids. In fact, the standard modern order of introducing foods is almost exactly *backward* from the traditional or common-sense way of doing it. Breastmilk is primarily fat and protein, with simple sugars, NOT carbs. Babies are best able to digest fat and protein – and simple sugars (like fruit), with their ability to digest carbs not being fully developed until they’re about a year-and-a-half old! So believe it or not, MEAT is actually a better first food than rice or oatmeal.

    • says

      Thanks for that info Rachel. That makes sense as meat contains the iron, protein and other essential nutrients for baby as well. However, my family tries to limit our meat intake so we opted for the above nutrient rich grains and a variety of fruits/vegetables like avocado and squash for our little one.

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