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Can Babies Eat Rice? Everything You Need To Know

I love Chinese food. So, it’s only natural that the grandbaby would want to dive right in and try a handful of rice, too! However, the first time he had rice he started choking over one small grain of rice.

I had to double-check when it was okay to feed babies rice. Thankfully, he must have just had a distaste for the plain rice. Babies can safely eat rice at approximately eight months when they can eat most other solid foods. 

Can Babies Eat Rice?

Babies can eat rice! Most babies will need to take some time to learn about the new texture. Then, they will happily begin to enjoy the different types of rice that the rest of the family does. I love rice, from Chinese food to Spanish rice, and so does my grandbaby. 

However, it’s important to make sure that you fully understand when babies can eat rice. You’ll also need to know how to give your baby rice to make sure that it is not a choking hazard. 

When Can Babies Eat Rice?

Babies can eat rice when they are ready to eat solid foods. Most doctors recommend that you start with pureed baby foods. You’ll need to take your time, and follow the appropriate timeline for introducing solid foods before giving your baby rice. 

Most Babies Start Pureed Foods At Six Months Old

This does tend to vary with babies. When my daughter was a baby almost twenty years ago, they started babies on baby food at four months old. She could not even sit up on her own yet. With the grandbaby, however, things changed.

His pediatrician recommended that he not start eating baby food until he was able to sit up. His feeding specialist said that he should be able to control his movements enough that he could sit up and lean forward to take a bite. 

Keep in mind that this timeline might be a little later for some babies. Because the grandbaby was premature, he wound up not eating baby food until he was almost eight months old.

Most doctors do not recommend that babies start eating food before they are six months old. This is because infants should be getting most of their nutrition from formula or breastmilk until they are one year old. 

You Have To Feed Infants One Food At A Time To Check For Allergies

When you start to feed your little one baby food, you’ll feed them one new food at a time. For example, if you feed them bananas first, you won’t feed them another food for 3-5 days after that to make sure that there is not an allergic reaction.

You’ll do this as you work through all of the beginner foods. (Beginner foods are baby food purees with single ingredients, such as apples, bananas, pears, green beans, etc.)

During this period, your little one cannot eat rice as you can. However, you can give them pureed rice dishes once you are done checking for allergies. Pick up a food processor to make your own pureed baby food, such as pureed rice. 

It Is No Longer Recommended That You Avoid Foods That Are Common Allergens

Long ago, when my daughter was a baby, it was recommended that you did not feed babies foods that were known to be allergens. It was said that this would increase their risk of developing an allergy to the food.

Now, we know that to be false. You can feed your little one peanut butter, honey, eggs, etc. before they are a year old. Don’t forget to wait three days before feeding your baby another new food in case there is an allergic reaction. 

Next, You Feed Your Baby Finger Foods

Finger foods naturally come after baby food purees. Your baby is ready to eat finger foods when they can are able to pick them up and can chew food. Even though your baby won’t have a lot of teeth yet, they’ll be able to chew soft foods with their gums.

Most store-bought finger foods dissolve easily in a baby’s mouth too. For example, fruit puffs. You can also start giving your tiny pieces of banana instead of banana puree.

Remember, it needs to be soft, small, and dissolvable is always a great option. 

Rice is not typical finger food. However, you can mash up rice to give to your baby during this stage.

If you’re a fan of your baby eating what the rest of the family is, you can find a way to make most foods work by throwing them in a food processor or mashing them up.

Make sure that your baby doesn’t take bites that are too large to prevent choking. 

Foods To Avoid During This Stage

When it’s time for your baby to eat finger foods, you’ll naturally want to start giving them new foods to try. Giving your baby foods more texture is a great idea!

They’ll need that stepping stone before eating solid foods. Some babies can start taking smaller bites of real food, too! There are still some foods that you need to avoid, though. These include, but are not limited to: 

  • Rice that is not mashed up
  • Grapes
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Hot dogs
  • Hard fruits
  • Raw vegetables unless pureed
  • Marshmallows
  • Chunks of food that you need teeth to eat, such as meat and cheese

Feeding your little ones these foods can be a choking hazard. Wait until they are older and better able to chew before introducing them. If you’re not sure about a food, avoid it until you double-check to determine if it is a choking hazard. 

Funny baby eating healthy food on kitchen

Finally, You Can Feed Your Baby Solid Foods

By the time your baby has mastered finger foods, you should be ready to start feeding them solid foods. Most babies will reach this milestone by the time that they are 9 months, but this might be later for some babies.

Babies will need a few teeth to chew solid foods. This is particularly true for rice. Try to keep mashing it up until your little one has the skills to eat solid foods. Babies are typically on a solid food diet by the time that they are one year old. 

During this stage, make sure that you continue to cut your baby’s food into bite-sized pieces. Foods like cherry tomatoes and grapes may look small, but these are the same size in your baby’s airway.

Cut them in half to prevent choking. If anything is bigger than half of a grape, you need to cut it up. You’ll also want to continue to cut up pasta, such as spaghetti noodles, to prevent choking. 

Tips For Feeding Babies Rice

I understand wanting to include your little one in mealtimes and letting them enjoy the same foods that the rest of the family does. There are a few things that you need to keep in mind when feeding your baby rice, though. 

Make Sure That The Rice Is Cooked Thoroughly

When rice is not cooked all the way, it is hard. You’ll notice this if you try to mash it up. However, if your baby is already eating all solid foods, you might not.

That is why it’s important to pay special attention when cooking the rice. If it’s not cooked thoroughly, it can present a choking hazard to babies. 

Babies Need Teeth To Eat Rice

Babies need to be able to chew foods with their teeth to eat rice. It can be difficult for little ones to chew rice with their gums, even if it is cooked until it is done. Instead, babies might try to swallow rice whole, which can be a choking hazard. 

Never Leave Your Baby Unsupervised

Choking is often a silent thing. Your little one will not always cough when they are choking. This is because food blocks the airway, so the baby can’t cough. Do not leave your baby unsupervised when eating food, especially rice.

When rice is cooked thoroughly it can be sticky. Your baby might try to eat more than they can, which makes them more likely to choke. 

Make Sure That There Are No Choking Hazards In The Rice Dish

We rarely eat plain rice. Instead, rice is combined with a variety of foods to form quite a few delicious dishes. Some common ingredients, such as peas and chickpeas, can be hard for younger babies to chew and swallow.

Make sure that all of the ingredients in the dish are soft and easy to chew. It’s a great idea to take a few bites yourself to double-check before making your little one a plate. 

What About The Arsenic In Rice?

Gerber and other major brands of baby food came under fire for the levels of toxic metals and arsenic that were discovered in their baby food products.

This led to millions of parents tossing rice-based infant cereals and other rice-based products due to the fear of there being arsenic in them.

It’s understandable that this can be concerning, but there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to feeding your baby rice. 

Arsenic Is A Natural Element

Arsenic naturally occurs in our environment. It can be found in the Earth’s soil, water, and even in fish that we eat.

When it is combined with other elements, it can form several different compounds that are also found in the foods we eat. These levels are so low that they don’t usually pose a health risk. 

Rice Has Slightly More Arsenic, But It’s Still Natural

Rice tends to absorb more arsenic from both the water in the fields and the soil than other plants do. Because of this, rice has a higher level of arsenic than most other grains do.

Rice-based products also have slightly higher levels of arsenic due to this happening as the rice plant grows. No one is putting arsenic in baby food or rice. 

However, it can still be toxic. Arsenic is a naturally occurring element, but it is one of the most toxic elements found.

Because of pollution, it continues to make its way into things like drinking water and higher levels of arsenic are being found in rice and rice-based products. 

Should You Be Concerned About Arsenic In Rice?

Yes and no. Obviously, levels of arsenic in your food are a concern. However, it’s impossible to know how much unless you have a lab at home to measure the levels of arsenic yourself.

You would also have to consume quite a bit of food that has arsenic in it to experience arsenic poisoning. 

Most people continue to eat rice, and even feed their children rice-based cereal. This is because it’s typically not a concern unless rice is one of your staple foods. For example, people that cannot eat gluten often eat more rice.

So do people with an Asian-based diet. In those situations, rice is often consumed daily. Sometimes, it’s consumed multiple times a day. Unless you fall into this category, there is nothing to worry about.

For more information about arsenic poisonings, such as signs and symptoms, check out this article. 

In Conclusion

Your baby can eat rice at any stage, provided it’s prepared properly. Wait until your little one has teeth to chew and is on all solid foods before feeding them rice without mashing it up or making it into a puree.

Avoid giving your baby too much rice in one bite, and never leave your little one unsupervised while eating. Choking is usually silent.