Can My Baby Eat Rice?

Baby in high chair eating

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Remember when you registered for that deluxe high chair back when you were pregnant? Perhaps it's been sitting in a corner of your kitchen or dining room, just waiting for the moment when your baby is finally ready to start taste-testing solid foods. That moment will finally be here once they hit six months of age or display solid food readiness signs,

Veggies and fruits are popular options to kickstart the solid food train, but rice is also a filling option. Yes, you can feed babies who are six months of age or older rice. But there are some caveats, which we'll get into shortly.

What Is Rice?

This might sound like a silly question at first. As an adult, you likely consume rice in one form or another often. Of course you know what it is! But let's break it down a little more.

Rice is actually the seed of a type of grass called Oryza sativa and there are literally thousands of different types. You have your long-grain, medium-grain, short-grain varieties, plus whole grain or refined rice. It's a source of fiber, magnesium, manganese, Vitamins B1 and B6, selenium, and phosphorous. And your baby can reap all of these nutritional benefits once they are ready for the high chair.

Is Rice Safe For My Baby?

Rice is safe for babies who are at least six months of age, as long as it has been pureed to an easy-to-swallow consistency for the child. Tanya Roman, MD, chief of pediatrics at Community Health of South Florida, Inc., recommends starting a baby on rice cereal first. This can be liquified with breast milk or formula for easy consumption.

"Some babies may be able to start eating rice cereal earlier; it depends on different factors," says Dr. Roman. "That's usually something you would discuss with your pediatrician. But for the most part, 6 to 8 months is when babies start eating solids."

If you're really itching to get your little one on the real stuff, not rice cereal, Dr. Roman says it's fine to puree it with formula or breast milk.

"It depends on the baby's age," she explains. "At 6 months, they can only swallow so they need things in a pureed consistency. That's why people will use rice cereal instead. Usually, if you've given rice the way you cook it (the way older children or adults eat it), kids need to be a little bit older, so they're able to chew it well so they don't choke."

Benefits of Giving Baby Rice

Admittedly, rice cereal for babies has little to no nutritional value. Its benefits are generally limited to the fact that it is easy to digest and often fortified with iron. However, it is a good option for starting to introduce your little one to new foods and textures, and if you opt to serve pureed rice mixed with breastmilk, then might gain some of the nutritional benefits rice has to offer.

Risks of Giving Baby Rice Too Soon

The biggest risk of giving your baby rice too soon is that their digestive system may not yet be ready.

"It is recommended to avoid all solid foods before 4 months of age for this reason," says Emily Sylvester, MS, RD, LDN, IBCLC of NurtureTalk. "The first several months of feeding is really for learning and experimentation. If a baby is offered textures, such as cooked rice, too soon, too often, or too forcefully, and they are not developmentally ready or are uncomfortable with it, this can lead to food aversions."

There is also concern about arsenic in rice. For this reason, monitoring how much rice cereal or rice puree your child eats is prudent.

"Research suggests that there are elevated levels of arsenic and toxic metals in rice that come from the soil," says Sylvester. "However, rice consumed by babies in moderation and in coordination with a variety of new foods is considered safe."

When and How to Introduce Rice

Even though rice isn't one of the top eight food allergies, Sylvester still recommends introducing it just as you would any other food: spaced apart a few days from any other new food.

"Rice cereal can be offered alone at first and then mixed with other purees and soft foods," she says. "Baby cereals largely do not have much nutritional value as a whole but if other high iron foods are not yet being offered, rice cereal (and other baby cereals) have added iron in them to ensure babies are meeting their iron needs as they grow."

In the case of rice crackers and wafers marketed for babies, Sylvester says these can be offered as good practice finger foods because they practically melt in their mouths. However, these snacks have little to no nutritional value, so they shouldn't be considered a meal replacement. 

What Amount of Rice Should I Give My Baby?

Dr. Roman says there are any specified standard amounts of rice or rice cereal to give to your child. This is one reason why she strongly encourages giving your baby a well-balanced diet.

"What's recommended is alternating rice with other types of grains, like barley, oats, and other multigrain products along with vegetables and fruits," she advises.

A Word From Verywell

If your baby is 6 months of age or older, get excited because you can start to share your love of rice with them. Start with either rice cereal or rice pureed with formula or breast milk to a smooth consistency. Make sure to make it part of a well-balanced diet of other grains, as well as fruits and vegetables.

It's also important to introduce new foods separately, spacing them out a few days between one another. This will help you identify any potential food allergies. If you have any concerns about when, how, or what to start feeding your baby rice, have a conversation with their pediatrician for guidance. Every child is different and their healthcare provider can best speak to their nutritional needs.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The Nutrition Source. Rice. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

  2. Nicklas TA, O’Neil CE, Fulgoni VL. Nutrient intake, introduction of baby cereals and other complementary foods in the diets of infants and toddlers from birth to 23 months of ageAIMS Public Health. 2020;7(1):123-147. doi: 10.3934/publichealth.2020012

  3. Potera C. Food safety: u. S. Rice serves up arsenicEnviron Health Perspect. 2007;115(6):A296. doi:10.1289/ehp.115-a296

By Kelly Kamenetzky
Kelly Kamenetzky is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer/editor with more than a decade of experience covering the parenting and family space. She enjoys connecting with experts in the parenting field and delivering impactful recommendations on family issues. She is also a mother of three.