White Rice Is Like Poison for Baby


white rice
White rice? Or "white poison"?
When we first started baby Kavya on solid foods at 6 months, I was adamant that she would only have brown rice cereal and whole grains, like oatmeal.

I didn't want her to get used to white rice and white bread and all of that crap we grew up eating. And it turns out I wasn't the only one thinking that way.

As part of his national WhiteOut campaign, Dr. Alan Greene, the author of Feeding Baby Green and a pediatrician at Stanford University’s Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, is touting much the same thing, citing increasing childhood obesity and diabetes rates as a reason to cut out white rice and other simple carbs in favor of more whole foods.

According to Greene, white rice is "the No. 1 source of calories for kids in the first year of life, other than breast milk or formula. By 18 months, most children get no whole grains each day."

In our household, my husband and I make a point of eating whole wheat bread, steel cut oats, and other heartier, more nutritious foods, and use organics for some of our fruits, veggies, and meats. Kavi actually loves whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta (especially ravioli!), and even a bit of quinoa here and there, and the pre-prepped baby food she gets is also made with whole grains. She never really got into cereal -- wheat or white -- so we pretty much skipped that right from the start. But the whole grain option was always there.

Still, white rice -- or "white poison," as one particularly militant uncle calls it -- is an easy habit to fall back into. After all, Chinese takeout just tastes better with it, and it cooks cleaner and faster than even the quickest-cooking brown rice. Plus, we grew up on the stuff. It's a staple in Indian food. So naturally, it sneaks into Kavi's diet now and again.

But Greene's agenda has reminded me of exactly why I wanted her not to get used to it in the first place. It doesn't offer as complete or long-lasting nutritional value as the brown version. More importantly, once you let the white rice back into your diet, it's WAY too easy to let the other junk sneak back in. And while we'll let Kavi have cake or other treats once in a while, rice is too much of a dietary staple to let slide every time. We know, because we've been doing it in our own diet. And it has to stop.

So I'm hereby banning white rice from Kavi's diet -- and okay, okay, ours too. It's not easy to get back into the brown rice habit, but it's important for Kavi's health, and for our own. After all, if we want Kavi to have healthy habits, we have to have them ourselves.

Do you give your baby "white poison" or stick to the whole grains? Will Greene's "WhiteOut" campaign make you rethink your stance?

Image via Tamaki/Flickr

baby development, baby first year, solid food


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nonmember avatar Monzie

My son always got brown rice cereal or rolled oats when he was a baby and I have always only bought whole wheat bread and whole grain cereals for his father and myself. So now that my kid is a toddler and eating the same stuff as the rest of the family, I'm confident that he eats enough whole grains in his regular diet that I don't have to sweat it when a little white rice, pasta, or bread appears on his plate. So no, I haven't banished white rice from our lives. It's just something we eat in moderation.

vicesix vicesix

I am not saying this in a superior way, just answering the question...no, I have never served my children white rice or white bread either. I even buy whole wheat pasta for the occasional spaghetti dinner. The only time they ever have white is at someone else's home or perhaps at a restaurant. They are 7 and 9 years old now and are so accustomed to wheat/brown everything that they really don't care for the white stuff, as it's a foreign flavor to them. Start 'em early, mama!

molly... mollymae09

Josiah has only had baby rice a handfull of times. He didn't like it so we switched to oatmeal and he loves that. I'm trying to get my boyfriend to start eating wheat stuff...and it's working little by little. I'll admit, I'm a pasta lover. But I do eat whole wheat pasta as much as I can.

Proud... ProudSingleMum

Okay....I have to ask..... Isn't white rice what is primarily eaten in Japan and China? Are those people more unhealthy because of it?

Or is just like everything in the good 'ole USA.....too much is the problem!

Christeen Conrad

Thank you ProudSingleMum, I'm Korean and I was just about to say something.

Reminds me what they kept telling me in the hospital. Don't eat anything spicy. My mom could not believe it. Because Asians eat spicy stuff all the time but here in American it's suddenly a problem.


thedg... thedgoddess

I'm with them. It's too much of a good thing!

Also, I don't know why people start with grains anyway. According to stuff I've read, the best foods to start with are potatoes, sweet potatoes and avocados.  Much healthier, chock full of vitamins and easy to prepare.


vicesix vicesix

LOL, ProudSingleMum, I think you've got it right...it's too much! Americans eat WAY too many grains, and the fact that most of them are refined/processed (white) just makes it worse. I have seriously tried to cut back on the amount of grains--whole wheat or not--I eat and replace them with vegetables. It makes a big impact on weight!


LindA... LindAngeLevi

I've heard that wheat is just as bad as rice. Whole grain is actually the best

nonmember avatar Allboys

Yes we do feed our children white rice. When they were babies grains were not at the top of their food list and the grains they got were whole grains. But white rice, as in cooked grains of rice not the box of pulverized rice cereal has been given to our children during meal time whenever we have a meal that it compliments. We also eat brown rice, steal cut oats, whole grain bread and all kinds of tasty snacks imported from here or there. What we don't rely on heavily is pre packaged heavily processed foods and all four of my children are healthy weights.

nonmember avatar JaneyJane

I don't know how I feel about this. It just sound ridiculous to me. I'm Chinese and grew up eating white rice as a staple of my diet. I am perfectly healthy and am considered THIN. I don't think it's necessary to pain certain foods and evil or bad. For the most part people know what is healthy and what is not and a lot of it is moderation and portion control. Freaking out and blaming specific foods, etc does nothing to help us in creating a balanced and suitable diet to fits an individual's needs.

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