- Kids Health
5 Reasons to Think Twice About Infant Cereal
As a new mom, I have been excited about every one of my sons milestones, and being old enough to start cereal was one of them. I was fed cereal, my mom was fed cereal, and it's an exciting new experience to prop your baby up in a high chair and give them their first taste of real food. That is, until I did some research into health benefits and hazards of infant cereal. The results had to be shared.
1.) Cereal became a food staple when infant formulas did not contain iron.
In years past, infants, primarily formula fed infants, would suffer from anemia in great numbers. It was crucial to introduce iron to these infants, but a process to fortify formula had yet to be discovered. This the iron fortified infant cereal was born. This is no longer a problem, as breastfeeding moms are instructed to continue taking a multivitamin with iron, and all infant formulas are now iron fortified. There is simply no use for cereal in an infant diet.
2.) Introducing an empty carb as first food can lead to diabetes later in life.
Infant cereal has no dietary value to an infant less than one year old. It is pure starch, which is pure carbs, which your previously milk fed baby's body is not used to or prepared for. This sudden influx of empty carbs can cause blood sugar spikes, which will cause baby's body stress as it is forced to regulate. This repetitive overuse of the body's blood sugar regulation system can make it more likely to over or under compensate when carb rich foods are ingested in the future, and can cause diabetes.
3.) Because the lack of nutritional value, cereal replaces other nutrient rich foods your baby needs.
Every time you allow your child to full up on cereal, you are depriving him a meal with nutrients that he needs to grow. Starting out on fruits and vegetables instead gives your baby the opportunity to have more digestable nutrients in his first solid foods, and still provides that feeling of fullness that most parents cherish about infant cereal.
4.) No other culture has this practice of feeding infants under one year grains.
Cultures that do have a similar practice wait until the infant is one year old. Why? That brings us to our last and most important point:
5.) BABIES CAN'T DIGEST CEREAL!!!
The human body needs an enzyme called amylase to break down and digest grain. However, this enzyme isn't produced until six months of age, and enough isn't made to support a grain based diet until one year! That means this undigested grain is just sitting in baby's gut, taking up space. Have you ever noticed the way a baby's poop will change once cereal is introduced? It becomes gritty. That's because the intestines extract the water from the cereal, which carries with it sugars, and the poop out the grain cereal exactly how it came in the box! That's what the grit is. Cereal may make your child feel fuller longer, but it is because they are just getting filled up. You might as well be feeding your baby sand. It would do the same thing! If you must give your child cereal, wait until 6 months. Remember breast fed is best fed and the current reccomendation is for your baby's diet to consist only of breast milk or formula until 6 months of age, and hopefully fruits and vegetables will be their first food, not nutritionally deficit cereal!