It is a very common thing for Asians to feed their babies porridge as their first weaning food. This is because feeding our babies porridge is a long-standing tradition that has been passed down for generations. Our mothers gave us porridge and our grandmothers fed or mothers porridge.
But did you know that white rice has the lowest nutrition among other grains? White rice is milled rice that has had its husk, bran and germ removed. After milling the rice is polished, until it is bright, white and shiny – which is what most consumers find more appealing. Aside from being highly processed, this also means that quite a fair bit of nutrition is stripped from the rice in the process.
Natural occurring arsenic is known to accumulate in rice at higher levels than in other crops and is estimated to absorb up to 10 times the amount of other grains. The arsenic content in rice varies according to the type of rice, where its grown, how it has been processed and how it has been cooked. This doesn’t mean that we should shun a grain that we have eaten for generations. It simply means we can make better and healthier choice grains to feed our babies. Here are 5 grains parents can feed their babies instead of white rice.
Millet is a good protein source and is rich in multiple vitamins, phosphorus, potassium, iron, and magnesium. It has high amounts of fibre, essential amino acids like lecithin and methionine, and phytic acid that help reduce the risk of cancer and lower blood cholesterol. Although sources say that parents can introduce millet from 6 months, some prefer to play it safe and introduce them 8 months. Millet is nutritious and versatile. It can be used in baby cereals and can be added to fruits and vegetables.
Oats are a great alternative for babies who are allergic to gluten and cannot eat grains like wheat, rye and barley. This gluten-free grain is rich in essential nutrients such as fibre, proteins, and vitamins and provides the same vitamins and minerals that essential grains do. Oats are safe to introduce from 6 months onwards. Choose steel-cut oats or the standard infant oat cereal with the least amount of processing. Pick options that do not contain added preservatives, sugar, salt, and flavouring.
Although barley is not a common food to feed to a baby, it is one of the most nutritious grains naturally available. It contains lots of fibre, amino acids, iron, copper, B vitamins, manganese, iron and phosphorous. It is a very good alternative food for babies who cannot tolerate rice. Barley also contains high quantities of phosphorous and calcium which plays an important role in strengthening your babies’ bones. Barley can be introduced at 6 months but not as a first food in case of possible gluten allergy.
4. Bario Rice
There are so many different types of Bario rice but what makes them a popular choice for baby food is their soft texture. The Bario Red Rice is high in protein, thiamin and low in fat. It also contains an antioxidant called anthocyanins, which is known to reduce inflammation and allergy. The Bario Black Rice, on the other hand, is high in fibre content, which aids the digestive system. Aside from being harvested only once a year in Sarawak, Bario rice is also cultivated by hand with no germicide and pesticides. They are also sold in their natural state leaving all the essential vitamins and mineral still intact.
Quinoa contains a cluster of B group vitamins such as Riboflavin, Niacin, and Thiamine. It also has Calcium, Phosphorous, and Magnesium that are crucial for bone growth as well as Omega 3, 6, 9 fatty acids needed for the brain and eye development. What makes Quinoa stand out from the rest of the grains is its rich source of good carbohydrates and lower glycaemic index (GI). A serving of quinoa is sure to provide your baby with the energy he or she needs to play and learn.
When introducing new food
Remember to talk to your paediatrician before introducing food to your baby and always introduce foods one at a time to single out any possible allergies. Follow the 3-day wait rule. Once you are sure the food you’re introducing is safe, you can continue to feed your little one.