Dr Greene in his paper "Why White Rice Cereal for Babies Must Go" states:
"Some taste preferences are hardwired. And different babies experience taste differently, in part because of hereditable differences in taste bud density. But careful studies of human twins and of young animals suggest early exposures and social interactions outweigh genetics when it comes to food preferences.(11)"
"Indeed, up to 85 percent of the variability in eating patterns is due to environmental, not genetic factors.(12,13,14,15,16)
We know in animals that the first bite of solid food can be particularly influential.(14) For human babies the moment of the first bite is laden with positive associations. The child has often been staring at the parents’ food choices, eager to learn what eating is all about. The child is the center of attention at an emotionally charged moment, often with a camera capturing the event. The processed white rice flour is often mixed with breast milk or formula, giving it an even stronger positive association.
Conversion of the white rice flour to glucose begins while the cereal is still in the baby’s mouth, lighting up the hard-wired preference for sweets (and the cereal is nearly 100% glucose by the time it is absorbed in the intestines). Given this “perfect storm” of extrinsic and intrinsic factors, both initially and throughout the formative months, it is easy to see how a preference for processed refined grain products could become firmly established, and later in life, challenging to change."
2. It's outdated: back when guidelines suggested 3-4 month weaning (ie before the gut was closed) introducing what is considered to be a low allergen food that is easy to digest (due to the processing) was considered safest, otherwise food proteins can potentially provoke an allergic reaction. If weaning commences when baby is ready ie they are reaching for food and putting it in their mouth, or at around 6 months as guidelines now suggest; the gut is closed and thus this is not an issue. Furthermore, in small babies mixing with foods was to try and coax the baby to accept a flavour they may typically reject - a baby ready for solids is ready to enjoy full flavours too. Those breastfed have already experienced a range of tastes via breastmilk, so why would they need a tasteless food?
3. It's highly refined: and not in the elegant and cultured in appearance sense - but over processed like white bread which is stripped of nutrients by the processing It is often then fortified with synthetic vitamins - some just with Thiamin (B1) whilst others are "enriched with 13 vitamins and minerals, like iron and zinc". However these are less bioavailable to baby than those naturally occurring in foods.
4. It can cause deficiencies: consider that when a baby starts solids, the food is shown to displace total milk intake over a 24 hour period. In a breastfed baby this means they are swapping calorific nutrient rich foods for a poor substitute. Studies have also shown infants who received iron fortified foods (as some baby rice is) before 7 months, had significantly lower haemoglobin levels at one year than those who had not. Excess iron also potentially causes harm to the body.
"I have been studying nutrition very carefully for more than a decade now and one of the things that I have become convinced of is that white rice cereal can predispose to childhood obesity," said Greene. "In fact I think it is the tap root of the child obesity epidemic."
Besides its touted digestion benefits, Greene said white rice cereal is also high in calories and made of processed white flour.
"The problem is that it is basically like feeding kids a spoonful of sugar," said Greene.
"The difference between white rice and brown rice is huge," said Greene. "White rice is basically 94 percent starch."6. It could be linked to diabetes: A 2010 study published in Arch Intern Med found Those who ate white rice 5 or more times a week had a 17% increased risk of type 2 diabetes compared with those who ate it less than once a month. Those who chose brown rice or another whole grain instead of white rice had up to a 36% reduced risk.
Another study entitled "Carbohydrate Nutrition, Insulin Resistance, and the Prevalence of the Metabolic Syndrome in the Framingham Offspring Cohort", found:
7. It can contain Arsenic (yes really): From the NHS
"Rice fields are regularly flooded and arsenic is naturally present in the soil. Subsequently the substance is present at a relatively high level in rice. High levels of arsenic are reportedly linked to an increased risk of certain cancers. Researchers in this study tested levels in 17 samples of three unnamed brands of baby rice in British supermarkets and found that 35% of them contained high levels. The Food Standards Agency is reported as saying that there is no danger to infants, but that food regulations should be updated. There are currently EU and US legislations governing inorganic arsenic content allowable in water, but not in foods."Brown rice is likely to contain more than white, so is not really a viable alternative. There are currently no EU-wide regulations for arsenic levels in food after the European Food Safety Authority ruled that previous safety limits were inadequate.
8. It can contain other toxic metals: A study featured in the journal of Food Chemistry, found feeding infants twice a day on the shop-bought baby foods such as rice porridge can increase their exposure to arsenic by up to fifty times when compared to breast feeding alone.
Exposure to other toxic metals such as cadmium, which is known to cause neurological and kidney damage, increased by up to 150 times in some of the foods tested by Swedish scientists, while lead increased by up to eight times.
"Alarmingly, these complementary foods may also introduce high amounts of toxic elements such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and uranium, mainly from their raw materials."Read more
9. It's pointless: Ultimately the question has to be - why use it? Rather than why not. There is no research or logic suggesting a baby needs baby rice, and given potential risks what are the benefits?