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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. We prefer the True Roots brand because it is pre-rinsed.
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. Find it here.
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. Shop millet here.
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- find it here!
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. We typically use this brand.