When you first start baby weaning, it can feel very daunting knowing what food to start with. Baby rice is a very common choice for parents to start with as it offers a gentle introduction to solid foods and a smooth texture which many babies find agreeable.
Most guidelines suggest starting weaning at 6 months although some parents and even some brands recommend starting to give baby rice when they are four months old.
What is baby rice?
Baby rice is just normal rice that 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.
Baby rice benefits
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. For example:
• It is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans
• It is hypoallergenic, so your baby is unlikely to have any bad reactions to it
• It's bland to taste, so while the flavour isn't anything exciting, this blandness is exactly what your baby needs early on in their weaning journey and as a result, they're unlikely to dislike the taste
• It has 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 six months old. This weaning guideline has come from the NHS. However, all babies are different and some are ready sooner than this so it is best to discuss with your doctor or health visitor if you think your baby is ready for weaning sooner than the six-month mark.
Many brands offer baby rice from four 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, they 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 parents to use water here, however, you should stick to following the instructions the brand provides.
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 point for parents before they move onto baby purees, so you may find that after a couple of days of 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 six favourites.
1. Kendamil Smooth Baby Rice - 5 pack
Formulated with essential vitamins and minerals to support your baby’s growth and development,
2. Cow & Gate Baby Rice Cereal
With natural ingredients and vitamin B1, Cow & Gate is a popular brand of baby rice which is
There's nothing added to Aptamil Organic Baby Rice but Organic rice flour and little vitamin B1.
4. Heinz 4+ Months First Steps Baby Rice
Containing Parsnip, Potato, Sweetcorn, Onion, Heinz First Steps Baby Rice includes 12 key vitamins
5. HiPP Organic 100% Baby Rice
Gluten-free and suitable for vegetarians, this 100 per cent organic baby rice contains only
Baby rice alternatives
If your baby isn't a fan of baby rice or you'd just like to try something different, here are some alternatives to give a go once your baby is six months:
• Baby porridge
• Veggie puree
Just be sure to prepare these alternatives so they are safe for your baby to enjoy.