White Rice Is Like Poison for Baby

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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