Brown Rice Nutrition Information for Babies

Dad feeding baby cereal

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Brown rice is a whole grain with a mild, somewhat nutty flavor. It is an inexpensive staple and one that is often a part of the first foods parents and caregivers give to infants beginning solid foods (though it should never be used as the only food). Comparatively speaking, you'll get much more for your money if you prepare your own rice cereal than if you purchase manufactured infant cereals. However, homemade versions will not contain added iron, so you will also need to include other iron-rich foods (such as beans, lentils, egg yolks, and meat) in your baby's diet.

Brown Rice vs. White Rice

Brown rice is the seed of the rice plant, with just the fibrous outer husk removed. White rice is further processed by taking the brown rice grain and removing the bran layer and the germ. This step also removes some vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and fiber as well, since much of the nutrient content in the rice is included in the bran and germ.

Nutritional Value in Brown Rice

Brown rice is rich in nutrients and is a wonderful grain to offer your baby in addition to other whole grains and foods. The USDA provides the following nutrition information for 100 grams (a little less than half a cup) of cooked, medium-grain brown rice.

Carbohydrates 23.5 grams
Dietary fiber 1.8 grams
Fat 0.8 grams
Protein 2.3 grams
Thiamine (vitamin B1) 0.1 milligrams
Riboflavin (vitamin B2) 0.01 milligrams
Niacin (vitamin B3) 1.3 milligrams
Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) 0.4 milligrams
Vitamin B6 0.2 milligrams
Folate (Vitamin B9) 4 micrograms
Calcium 10 milligrams
Iron 0.5 milligrams
Magnesium 44 milligrams
Manganese 1.1 milligrams
Phosphorus 77 milligrams
Potassium 79 milligrams
Sodium 1 milligrams
Zinc 0.62 milligrams

When to Introduce Baby Cereal

Contemporary research makes it clear that starting healthy babies on solid foods, including infant cereals, before the age of 4 months is not recommended. Rather than looking to the calendar to time when you will begin solid foods, you should be watching your baby closely for developmental signs that they are ready for solids. This will likely be around 6 months of age. These include:

  • Absence of tongue thrust, a reflex that when something is placed in their mouths, they push their tongue out. If they're going to swallow food, it is essential that this reflex is gone.
  • Solid head and neck control. They need to be able to turn their head away so that they can communicate with you that they are full. They also need to be strong enough to support the weight of their own head.
  • Can sit up independently fairly well.
  • Has doubled their birth weight (though this is not a "magic" moment that indicates that they are ready for solids).

Making Your Own Infant Rice Cereal

You can make your own rice cereal by grinding rice into a fine powder using a high-powered blender, food processor, or clean coffee grinder. However, remember that this homemade rice cereal will not include additional iron and that rice cereal is not recommended as the only first food. Be sure to follow the general tips for safely starting solids.

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  1. Rice, brown, medium-grain, cooked. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture.