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Nine Good Reasons NOT To Use Baby Rice

1.  It's bland and tasteless, yet sweet - which may influence later food choices Try it - whilst the texture may be a new experience for baby, there's certainly no flavour enjoyment.  People mix things with it like apple or pear - why?  Why not just give the fruit?

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  It's outdated: back when guidelines suggested 3-4 month weaning (ie before the gut was closed) introducing what is considered to be a low allergen food that is easy to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.

5.  It's high in sugar: Dr. Alan Greene, a paediatrician at Stanford University who started the campaign "white out" says:
"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: 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:

"Whole-grain intake, largely attributed to the cereal fiber, is inversely associated with HOMA-IR and a lower prevalence of the metabolic syndrome. Dietary glycemic index is positively associated with HOMA-IR and prevalence of the metabolic syndrome."

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.

Researchers said:
"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?

46 comments:

  1. Kate Greenslade6 December 2011 08:28

    How DID the eons of mankind possibly survive without baby rice and formula before the scientists found this "godsend"????? (LQTM)

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    1. we didnt survive very well. rather then mock new research maybe it should be taken in hand and used for a good purpose? what are you going to do when we find a cure for cancer- say well weve been fine up to know without the cure...yeah smart.

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  2. Loved this article. Won't be sharing it on my wall, though, because can't stand the critics! People are obsessed about baby rice as a first 'food.' My gut is very sensitive to rice so I just don't eat it at all, worried the same might be true for my son, so avoided it until he was older.

    The same could be said of baby cereals, too. And Rusks. They are snack foods rather than meals and should be treated as such...but when you have a 4 month old stomach it will be filled by these foods and not provide great nutrition or calories.

    We weaned at 4 months and that's a decision I can't take back, but I can learn from. If I have another baby we'll wean at 6 months and follow baby led weaning.

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  3. Thank you! To all the people suggesting I give my 16 week old daughter baby rice up yours!!
    People have been suggesting it to me since she was 10 weeks old because she is a big girl. I felt they were wrong, I trust my milk and I am going to follow baby led weaning at around 6 months (or when she is ready) So the next person who suggests baby rice I will show them this!
    More education is needed I would share this on my wall but I can count about 15+ people who would be offended! Thank you for the artcle.

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  4. Loved the article but have a question. Is it saying never give rice or just wait until their gut is closed. I would guess never since they point out all the other negatives but wanted to make sure.

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  5. Anonymous I don't want to speak on behalf of AA, but I speak for myself when I say it's up to you what you take from the article.

    I think the point is made when arsenic is brought up as a point, but it's really up to each individual to take from this what they will and to make up their own minds as to which best course of action they should take.

    Personally? I see no value; calorie or nourishment wise to baby rice so I wouldn't feed it to my baby.

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  6. To Holly, I also had a lot of people telling me I should give my little boy food earlier as he is a big boy (8months 11kgs - gold top being supplied courtesy of mummy) - he wouldn't take anything till 6+ months just not interested and was only interested in foods, and still is, that he can hold. Stick by your guns and just nod and smile sweetly at those spouting the crap at you hun. xxx
    AA - great article!!

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  7. Anon I concur with Cara - I wouldn't give baby rice full stop. Normal rice (which has been rinsed repeatedly) as part of a balance diet when they are older yes.
    Thank you for this article AA, I have been saying this for goodness knows how long. No one seems to believe me about the arsenic, I was starting think I had made it up.

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  8. Mandy's got it exactly. Rice - real rice - as part of a normal diet for a growing young person is fine. Processed baby rice cereal is just gross and useless, and as the official "first food" is unhealthy and misguided. (Not a criticism against those who used it -- they've been led to honestly believe that it's the right thing to do. It's what I did with my first! But that's why this information needs to get out there!)

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  9. WOW! EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING NOW A DAYS HAS TO DO WITH A LINK TO SOMETHING. HOW HAVE WE SURVIVED SO MANY YEARS AS AN EVOLVED SPECIES, ONLY TO CONTINUALLY HAVE SOMEONE PROVE SOMETHING WRONG, RIGHT? DONT HAVE YOUR BELIEFS, JUST CONFORM AND AGREE WITH THE MAJORITY BECAUSE SOMEONE WROTE A PAPER OR FOUND IN A STUDY OF WHAT, 6 PEOPLE THAT SOMETHING IS NOT GOOD FOR US!

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    1. Hi there shouty-pants. We humans in fact haven't evolved eating rice (of any other grains). These foods are utterly foreign to us. and this article isn't in any way about agreeing with the majority, it's about disagreeing with the marketing crap lapped up by "the majority" and getting back to our natural eating practices which have slowly evolved with us.

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    2. To the couple of people here that seem to be upset by the sharing of informations and opinions on line,It is always good to educate ourselves and read about topics which interests us. Today we have this powerful means that is the net and we can read informations on google, wikipedia, or forum-sites ..etc.Why not? I have so many questions every day as parent and I research topics on line , then form my opinion! I think too often we do what "it is done by most around us" taking it that it is right without questioning it! And too often we are influenced by media and major food, cloths, toys, powerful brands! We buy toys that are ...useless..and of course in plastic( so much waist!!) instead of wood...We use expensive furniture ( cribs!!) when a baby is much better off on a mattress on the floor, the Montessori-way, being free to roll without falling..and without "feeling imprisoned".We give ( Americans especially sorry to say!!) our kids sippy-cups while they are perfectly able to learn to drink from a glass. why? because we are afraid they make a mess while drinking in a car or in front of the tv! Why should they drink in a car or in front of tv anyway, developing such a bad habits and drinking canned juices all day long that damage their teeth?! We give our babies formula because we believe we don't have enough milk, we hear that almost everybody does the same and it 's ok to do so ( and of course formula companies do a good job in advertising !!) but indeed it s because it is hard to breastfeed, it is painful and takes more time and patience!!! But there is a reason why nature intended that way! Formula is not even close to be as good as breastmilk! And we can kid ourselves as much as we want saying that it is!!! We buy kids fancy shoes so they can start walking! But as nature intended , babies can do a better job walking barefoot and their feet and ankles get stronger that way!! So we ( most of Americans I talked to ) give babies rice cereal because everybody does! But turns out that yes they are useless and tasteless or too sweet and linked to future obesity and diabetes! Now if you chose to give a formula,rice cereals, useless plastic sippy-cups, canned juices, ..etc.. why should you get "upset" if we discuss and support a different way?!

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  10. I give my 8 month old daughter baby rice on occasions to thicken a runny fruit sauce (home made of course!) It helps stop staining on her clothes when it's very runny and drips down her chin. It has a (small) in our cupboard and happy to use it.

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  11. I know Anon, how did the world survive before someone decided to market baby rice as an essential food group?

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  12. V interesting. My second baby was allergic / intolerant to baby rice when I started weaning her (vomiting) but we've never tried her with 'real' rice. Might be worth suggesting that to her Dr given how far removed baby rice is from the natural food.

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    1. There's nothing 'natural' food-wise about rice or any grains for that matter Lesley. For 99.9999% of our existence, we never ate these things. They're utterly foreign to us and are at the root of most digestive problems. The ironic thing is that white rice, while still awful,isn't as bad for us as brown rice as most of the dangerous proteins and antinutrients are in the bran.

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  13. Excellent article. However, a point to those moms talking about weaning at 6 months and following baby led weaning .... most human infants won't wean until they're close to 2 years of age. :-) And the WHO does recommend: "exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life, introducing age appropriate solids at 6 months with continued breastfeeding for up to 2 years and beyond." I'm not sure what the AAP recommends, but that is the current recommendation by Canada Health. No need to wean at 6 months!

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  14. Hiya - in the Uk weaning is used to mean starting solids :)
    AA

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  15. Ah- okay! That makes sense! I didn't realize that this was a UK blog. :-) No offense intended.... Cheers!

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    1. even in Canada, weaning means the same as in Britain. i.e. "the slow transition from an exclusively liquid diet to a diet of mostly solid foods". In no English speaking country does 'wean' mean the end of feeding primarily with breast milk or formula but 'weaned' does.

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  16. I've been noticing that since some parents are actually following the up-to-date pediatric North American guidelines for when to begin solid foods (around 6 months) that now health professionals are saying "start cereal at 6 months" and basically hold off on meats until much later! The whole point of adding foods to a breastmilk diet is to make up for a naturally-dropping iron level, which occurs around the middle of the first year of life, so why withhold a food that grew with iron in it, heme iron more easily digestible than the ferrous fumerate added to baby cereal??

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  17. YOU SHOULD FOLLOW THE INSTINCT INSIDE. MY KIDS ARE OLDER NOW AND BOTTLE FED PER MY DECISION. WHEN THEY BEGAN DRINKING LARGE AMOUNTS OF FORMULA I OFFERED THEM BABY CEREAL TO SEE IF THEY WERE READY FOR IT. ONE WAS AT 4 MONTHS OLD. I STILL CONTINUED BOTTLE FEEDING WHILE OFFERING A SMALL CEREAL ONCE A DAY AND THEN TWICE A DAY AS THEIR BOTTLE FEEDINGS INCREASED. BOTH PREFERRED WHEN WE ADDED OTHER BABY FOODS TO THE CEREAL. WE TRIED WITHOUT FIRST BUT SOMETIMES THEY WOULD SPIT OUT THE STUFF THAT WAS STRONGER. BY BLANDING IT WITH CEREAL THEY GREW TO LIKE IT. AND BACK THEN THE RECOMMENDATION IN THE US WAS TO GET THEM OFF THE BOTTLE AT A YEAR. I LET THEM KEEP THE BOTTLE BUT ALSO OFFERED MILK AND THEY BOTH STOPPED USING THE BOTTLE IN THEIR OWN TIME. THIS WAS AN INFORMATIVE PIECE BUT SOMETIMES THE GUIDELINES CANT BE FOLLOWED. U NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT UR BABY IS SAYING TO U.

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  18. its kinda common sense really... the more processed the product the worse it is for health.. and as for 'weaning' babies
    is it really weaning when all you do is just offer them a wider variety to consume.

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  19. From KellyMom: "The introduction of iron supplements and iron-fortified foods, particularly during the first six months, reduces the efficiency of baby's iron absorption."

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  20. I enjoyed the post and agree! Baby led weaning and straight introduction to whole/ unprocessed foods worked with our first and now she's a great eater and healthy as an ox!

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  21. Very good blog indeed, thanks. I was a sheeple I'm afraid. I gave it to my girls because my HV said so and all my friends were doing it?! Definitely food for thought and will be avoiding it in the future!

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  22. I noticed that my first, who was fed per "standards" today (rice cereal, baby food, etc) was a much pickier eater than my second born, who we skipped rice cereal with, skipped most purees and went straight to baby-led weaning. I honestly think there is a lot involved with how a child grows up to appreciate (or not) other foods.

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  23. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  24. my little guy has never had a bite of any kind of food specifically marketed to babies (except for some 'puffs' offered to him by my sister. i didn't want to be rude and tell her no and figured just a couple wouldn't hurt him.). i think processed baby foods are disgusting and weird and was really exited to find out about Baby Led Weaning. Maybe we haven't always avoided processed foods perfectly but we make a big effort and i find myself eating more fresh fruits and vegetables now. overall i think this approach has been healthier for my whole family.

    but honestly, these decisions were made based on my personal bias against baby food. i think it tastes, looks and feels gross. also, it's expensive and i'm cheap; or at least there are other baby things i'd rather spend my money on. i had no idea current baby feeding trends could be so problematic but i'm glad my baby is super healthy and we're on the right track.

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  25. So interesting, my older son grabbed food off my plate before the dr suggested starting solids, at aprox 3 months (mashed potatoes, but he teethed early)I tried the flaked stuff, but moved on quickly to home made veggies cooked nice and soft. My younger son I tried the baby cereals when the pediatrician suggested, but he never liked the mushy stuff. Not even fruits. To this day (9 years old) the only puree that he eats is applesauce. He didn't start solids in earnest till 7 months old when he got teeth and could chew diced foods. None of the lactation info that I had at the time suggested any of the baby centered weaning/starting solids. We do the best we can. unless we are going to go to a world like the movie GATTICA where all babies are engineered for a perceived perfection. We do our best and tweak as new and better info is learned. Keep learning trying and educating.

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  26. Rice is the common food in Asia and some countries in Africa. This maybe the reason why many people in this country acquire diseases like diabetes which is considered to be a deadly disease if not properly managed. Since you have cited different disadvantages of eating rice, maybe you could also cite some good advantages of this food. Thanks.

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  27. I'm glad I'm on protein diet. I control eating carbohydrates since food rich in carbohydrates can also be rich in calories. It is proven that eating high protein food converts 50% of the fats which is lesser compare to eating low protein and high carbohydrates diet which may convert calories to fats up to 90%.

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  28. I am very confident to skip this all together with baby #2, DS had baby rice mixed with BM at 4months, as were the guidelines, but he usually ate fruit or veg after that. We are lucky he is healthy&happy, but I wish we had been given all of these wonderful advice pages back then! Looking back he was sitting unaided and grabbing&eating foods, so probably was ready about then, can't wait to go with BLW when this baby is born :)

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  29. Point 9 also relates to this article. I don't see the point in this information at all, it sounds like they've based it on a single brand of baby rice. I personally used 100% baby rice, which was cheaper than the baby brands. We mixed it up with breast milk into a rice porridge and our babies loved it. It was a great start to their solid foods and I'll stand by that statement!

    They're both very progressed and have no problems with foods. Each child is different and I doubt very much that baby rice has anything to do with that.

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  30. Although I am completely for all organic, my daughter had a problem with my breast milk. One was that she was allergic to anything with milk. I cut out everything with milk and she got a little better. She wasn't gaining the weight she needed to. The doctor was concerned with that because she wasn't even gaining a forth of what they wanted her to. He suggested putting a little rice or oatmeal in her bottle with whatever I gave her. At that time it was breast milk and she was drastically better.

    She wasn't completely better so the doctor suggested using just a soy formula. The spit up continued with bad spitting up. My daughter can't drink anything without some thickness to it!

    She also couldn't eat anything with oatmeal in it. I never used any rice other than 100% baby rice. The soil rice grows in may be different in the UK than in the US though.

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  31. http://www.analyticalarmadillo.co.uk/2011/04/tongue-tie-hidden-cause-of-feeding.html might be of interest

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  32. When I was a baby, in the 1950s, doctors told moms to start "pablum" at two or three weeks! I got that, in addition to formula made with evaporated milk, water and corn syrup.

    With my kids, I only used baby cereal like another mother who commented here, and that was to thicken any home made baby food that was too thin. Using it that way, I never used more than a half of a small box per baby.

    I made my own baby cereal, by grinding whole millet, rolled oats and brown rice almost as fine as flour, so it cooked very quickly.

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  33. Most Asians have been consuming white rice every day for centuries. Rice porridge for babies for centuries before any of these scientific researches. Diabetes? West, especially North America, has much greater diabetes prevalence (at least 3x percentage) then Asia. No, I don't think eating white rice a few times a day would give you greater risk of diabetes.

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    1. Did you read the study linked Jeremy? Genetics and epigenetics of asian cultures who have a long history of eating large amounts of rice, are not comparable to the typical US adult.

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  34. Hi I agree with the points and I had a suspiscion thats y I looked into it.
    But at 5 and a half months what can I start giving the baby for the mums that hsve tried weaning without rice powder?
    Im sure in cyprus there wont vbe s doctor to stand by me st this decision

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  35. There are some interesting points raised in your article but some of your points aren't based on appropriate evidence. Although the WHO do recommend exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months there have been numerous calls for this to be updated (e.g. http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c5955) in light of the fact that infant nutrient levels start to drop rapidly at 6 months and need to be quickly supplemented from other sources. If you have a little angel who instantly starts to eat under BLW that's great but there is evidence to suggest that some supplementation is needed before then to maintain an adequate supply of nutrients. The article you cite (http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=416025) for the link between diabetes and white rice is totally irrelevant, the youngest person in the study was 26 and it is discussing swapping white to brown when it makes up a significant proportion of the diet. The recommendations for introducing baby rice in most sources is less than two portions per day most mixed heavily with other purees past the second week. I hope I haven't appeared rude but wanted to highlight the errors in some of the statements that you have made particularly given that many people take everything they read as gospel without checking the original sources.

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  36. Hi Robert - have there actually been "numerous calls"? There was one paper that asked the question, "how feasible is it" ie the one you linked to. Unfortunately not without bias or inaccuracies either as I address here http://www.analyticalarmadillo.co.uk/2011/01/starting-solids-facts-behind-todays.html

    Nutrient levels do start to drop at 6 months, and for babies born by c/s, with immediate cord clamping, VLBW etc this may be earlier than those who were not. However the conclusion is that it's feasible for most (ie there may be babies with developmental delays, extreme prematurity etc who need additional support). If you were particularly concerned, then of course considering micronutrient supplementation may be an option - still not sure how synthetic baby rice is relevant though?

    Aside from that one study, refined carbs have been linked numerous times with diabetes? Do you have any studies showing baby rice doesn't increase this risk?

    AA

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