The baby cereal aisle can be a bit overwhelming. There are different grains, fruit mixins, probiotics… and then of course, should you buy organic? For a look at organic food, read this article. Let’s look at the different types.
There are two types of infant cereal:
- Add breastmilk or formula: This kind only has the grain and added vitamins/minerals (some brands also add pre or probiotics).
- Add water: In addition to the grain and added vitamins/minerals, this type also has milk powder and a vegetable oil (some brands also add pre or probiotics).
Essentially, the “add water” variety already has formula powder in it.
I prefer the “add breastmilk or formula” varieties. Since you already know that your child tolerates his breastmilk or formula, you are only adding one new food: the rice, wheat, or whatever grain variety is in the cereal.
You’ll notice that the flavours are more limited with the “add breastmilk or formula” variety. That’s okay: it’s only a small sacrifice. You can add pureed apples, bananas, or yogurt when you make the cereal for your baby.
choosing a grain: wheat, rice, barley or oats?
In 2012, rice and products made from rice came under fire for the level of arsenic they contain. Interestingly, humans may actually need to have some arsenic in their diets. Currently, there aren’t any studies on humans but when animals are deprived of arsenic, their growth suffers and reproduction is abnormal. As the saying goes: the dose makes the poison.
So, at what level does arsenic become a toxic poison? Well, the exact amount is unknown. Long-term exposure at high amounts has been associated with an increased risk of certain cancers. In the US, the Food and Drug Administration is running a risk assessment that will hopefully shed some light on what risk the consumption of rice has and at what level.
Until then, a prudent practice would be to eat rice in moderation! What does that mean for infant cereal? Choose a variety of grains to feed your baby: wheat, barley, and oats are all readily available.