Your baby's first solids may well be baby rice as it's a common choice for parents to start weaning their little ones with.
Baby rice offers a gentle introduction into solid foods and a smooth texture which many babies find agreeable. While guidelines suggest starting weaning your baby at 6 months old, some parents and even some brands recommend starting to give baby rice when your baby is 4 months old.
What is baby rice?
Baby rice is just normal rice which has been ground to a fine consistency. It comes as a dry mixture, which is then mixed with milk to create a smooth texture that is considered ideal as a first weaning food.
Depending on the brand you choose, whether it's looking at brands like Cow & Gate, Hipp or Aptamil, it usually contains added vitamins such as zinc, iron, and thiamin.
Why should I use baby rice?
You've probably heard of a lot of people using baby rice as the very first food to feed their baby when weaning and this is mainly because it's easy for your little munchkin to digest. But there are plenty of other positives too, such as:
- Baby rice is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans
- Baby rice is hypoallergenic, so your baby is unlikely to have any bad reactions to it
- Baby rice is bland, so while the flavor isn't anything exciting, this blandness is exactly what your baby needs early on in her weaning journey and as a result, she's unlikely to dislike the taste
- Baby rice is a smooth, runny consistency once combined with milk, which means your baby won't have trouble swallowing it
- You can combine baby rice with milk or water, this gives you as the parent options if you prefer not to use milk, including because of allergy concerns
When should I give my little one baby rice?
As already mentioned, the recommendation is to start weaning your babies from around 6 months old, this weaning guideline has come from the NHS. However all babies are different and some are ready sooner than this, it is best to discuss with your doctor or health visitor if you think your baby is ready for weaning sooner than the 6-month-mark.
Many brands offer baby rice from 4 months old and again this is one to consult with your GP or HV on. Don't be surprised if your baby only wants a small amount to begin with but alternatively, she may be keen for more.
How do you cook baby rice?
While how you prepare baby rice depends on the brand you pick, typically baby rice is stirred with between 3-4 spoonfuls of your baby's usual milk. We've also known some of our #MumTribe parents to use water here, however you should stick to following what the brand-recommendations are.
If you are using milk, it's completely up to you whether you include it cold or warm, but if serving warm, remember to check the temperature before feeding your tot.
How often should my baby have it?
Baby rice tends to be the starting pointing for mums before they move onto fruit and veg purees, so you may find that after a couple of days using baby rice, you'll feel comfortable moving on from it.
Baby rice can also be used to bulk out fruit and veg puree so it's always useful to have a box around in the kitchen cupboards. It's worth bearing in mind that your baby doesn't need baby rice, you may prefer to dive straight into purees. It's completely up to you.
Charlotte Stirling-Reed, a registered Nutritionist and wing-woman to Wean In 15 author, Joe Wicks, says: 'A whole host of new research has looked at the idea of weaning with vegetables first. Savoury, bitter, sweet veggies – you name it – should be offered in order to help encourage acceptance of vegetables and to expose babies to these flavours in early life to help children to develop a liking for these very early on.'
Is baby rice safe?
A study revealed that certain brands of baby rice and cereals made with baby rice contained potentially harmful toxins such as arsenic and cadmium. These toxins are able to enter the product through contaminated water, which is used to irrigate rice crops in certain countries. Due to the small amount of baby rice your child is likely to eat while weaning, it is unlikely to cause long-term health problems, although we recommend moving on from baby rice after a couple of days.
What baby rice should I try?
There are a lot of different brands of baby rice so we've whittled them down to our top five favourites.
Formulated with essential vitamins and minerals to support your baby’s growth & development, Kendamil Smooth Baby Rice is low in salt and contains no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives
Suitable from four months.
Light, creamy and organic, Organix Baby Rice has 16 portions per pack and contains no added salt or sugar.
Suitable from six months.
With natural ingredients and vitamin B1, Cow & Gate is a popular brand of baby rice which is Gluten free and contains naturally occurring sugars, free from artificial colours, flavourings or preservatives
Suitable from four months.
There's nothing added to Aptamil Organic Baby Rice but Organic rice flour and little vitamin B1. We love the resealable pack for easy storage.
Suitable from 4 months.
Containing Parsnip, Potato, Sweetcorn, Onion, Heinz First Steps Baby Rice includes 12 key vitamins and minerals tailored especially for your little one including iron which supports normal cognitive development. Featuring small pieces, the resealable tub includes a handy scoop inside.
Suitable from 4 months.