Rice cereal is often the first food most infants have. Most of the time, children will have rice cereal daily for breakfast and dinner for months. Mirna Sabbagh – Nutritionist and Breastfeeding Specialist at myPediaclinic explains that consumption of infant rice cereal is putting children at risk of 2 reasons:
- Children are missing out on major vitamins and nutrients from other foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and meats.
- Infant rice cereal is high in inorganic arsenic which is negatively affecting children’s development.
What is inorganic arsenic and how does it affect children?
Inorganic arsenic is a chemical found in soil,air, soil, fertilizers, pesticides, and certain foods. Inorganic arsenic is considered toxic. Recent data from 2016 published by FDA shows that exposure of infants to arsenic can result in a child’s decreased performance on certain developmental tests that measure learning. They have found that it is also related to lung and bladder cancer.
Where is inorganic arsenic mainly found?
It is found in mainly in rice. This is due to the crop itself as it absorbs arsenic from the environment.
What should we replace infant cereal with?
We have a few suggestions for you:
- You can make your own baby cereal using a mix of non-arsenic containing grains.
- Incorporate fruits and vegetables into your child’s diet.
- Incorporate meats, legumes, and healthy fats in your child’s diet.
Note that iron fortified cereals provide the majority of the baby’s iron needs. When avoiding iron fortified cereals you want to make sure to provide adequate iron from other sources into your child’s diet.
If you have any questions about the ideal diet for your child, or are looking for guidance on how to best encourage your child to eat healthy foods, we are here for you.