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Old 01-31-2011, 05:57 AM
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Default Childhood Obesity/Rice Cereal

"Get the white out of baby's first foods."

By Liz Szabo, USA TODAY
Almost every child care book offers the same advice about a baby's first meal.
When infants are ready for solid food, experts say, start them first on rice cereal, available in a box, mixed with breast milk or formula. Babies have launched their eating careers this way for 60 years, says Alan Greene, a pediatrician at Stanford University's Lucile Packard Children Hospital.

In the 1950s, Greene says, baby food companies trumpeted the benefits of white rice cereal, telling mothers that it was easier for babies to digest than anything they could make at home. "The ads said, 'You can't feed children as well as we can,' " says Greene, author of Feeding Baby Green.

But David Ludwig, director of the Optimal Weight for Life program at Children's Hospital Boston, says "there's no scientific basis for this recommendation. That's a myth."

Concerned about increasing childhood obesity and growing rates of diabetes, some pediatricians want to change how babies eat.

Greene is encouraging parents to abandon white rice cereal in favor of more nutritious brown rice cereals or even a homemade brown rice mash or vegetable purée. "They won't mind," says Greene, who launched a "WhiteOut" campaign last week. "They'll thank you for it."

He is concerned that babies are getting hooked on the taste of highly processed white rice and flour, which could set them up for a lifetime of bad habits, such as a weakness for cakes and cookies.

White rice — after processing strips away fiber, vitamins and other nutrients — is a "nutritional disaster," Ludwig says. It's "as processed as anything in the food supply" and "the nutritional equivalent of table sugar."

White rice and flour turn to sugar in the body "almost instantly," Ludwig says, raising blood sugar and insulin levels "while providing virtually no other nutrients."

The USA Rice Federation, which represents the rice industry, counters that white rice has no fat, cholesterol, sodium or gluten, a protein in wheat to which some people are allergic, says spokeswoman Stacy Fitzgerald-Redd. Even fussy babies can tolerate white rice without an upset stomach.

It's "as nutritionally sound as any other carbohydrate," she says.

Babies certainly eat a lot of it.

It's "the No. 1 source of calories for kids in the first year of life, other than breast milk or formula," says Greene, noting that, "by 18 months, most children get no whole grains each day."

Greene says parents don't have to abandon instant rice cereal, which offers the advantage of added iron, an important nutrient for babies, especially those who are breast-fed. Most cereal manufacturers already offer a brown rice alternative.

Though offering whole grains seems like a smart idea, nutrition expert Walter Willett says white rice is far from the only culprit in childhood obesity. Most kids also drink too many sugary beverages, such as fruit juice, punch and soda, says Willett, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and co-author of the June diabetes study.

"I don't want people to feel guilty," Greene says. "I have four kids and I figured this out just recently. But it's time to change."

IT'S EASY-PEASY TO PUREE

Improving a baby's diet can actually save families money, says pediatrician Alan Greene.

To prove how easy it is to make homemade baby food, Greene often carries a lightweight food mill with him to lectures, then demonstrates how to grind up a sandwich. Though a pure of turkey, lettuce, tomatoes and bread may look unappealing to adults, babies who are naturally adventurous eaters in their first year gobble it up, he says.

Make ahead
To save baby-sized portions, freeze these pures in ice cube trays, then defrost before serving, he says.

Eat like Mom and Dad
Parents can feed babies the same foods they eat, such as bananas, peas, carrots and beans. Parents simply need to grind and strain food in an inexpensive food mill, although food processors and blenders also work well.

MORE TIPS

Highly refined tastes: Pediatrician Alan Greene worries that babies are getting hooked on highly processed white rice and flour, which could set them up for a lifetime of bad dietary habits.

Try mixing in brown: Harvard School of Public Health researchers find that replacing one-third of a serving of white rice with whole grains (brown rice, bulgur, oatmeal) each day may reduce diabetes risk by 36%.

Cut back on white: In their study, people who ate five or more servings of white rice a week had 17% higher risk of type 2 diabetes than those who ate less than one serving a month
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Old 01-31-2011, 08:29 AM
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nannyde nannyde is offline
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I agree

The food program doesn't allow me to make my home made baby cereal from whole organic grains because it doesn't have iron added to it. I buy all of our grains in bulk and give the babies the minimum in the organic brown rice cereal and the supplement it with the whole grain cereals I use for the older kids.

I would prefer to make ALL of my cereal for them. It's cheaper and healthier. It's just more work.

It's always more work.
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Old 01-31-2011, 08:31 AM
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I'm impressed that this was in USA today! There are lots of fantastic foods to start a baby on, especially if you're waiting until 6 months or more to start them and they're really truly *ready* for it. Sweet potato, mashed banana, mashed avocado...all of those are fantastic first foods. If you absolutely MUST start your child on rice, at least puree some well-cooked brown rice!

Heck, you don't even have to give your child mashed/pureed foods if you wait until they're actually ready to start feeding them solids. Small pieces of mushy stuff like cooked sweet potato, banana, avocado, apple, etc are good choices too--let baby feed himself.
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Old 01-31-2011, 08:42 AM
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I am just so glad they are finally talking about it more, it was on the National News this morning .

Once you start giving these babies the rice cereal it becomes so much harder, IMHO, to introduce vegetables. I beg "my parents" to do the pureed veggies first, but rarely do they since the rice cereal first pattern has been such a long time choice

I did the "veggies, fruits, cereals, then meats" pattern with my own kids (along with Breastmilk), but I guess it will be long after I retire before the food programs get on board

IDK, maybe there is a better way yet to be discovered? I like your rule of "If my Grandma would not recognize it, I don't serve it", Nannyde.
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Old 01-31-2011, 09:41 AM
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In dc business for 30 years, my own were fed the rice cereal. They are not obese. I have found through the years the parents are less and less educated on what good nutrition is. Eating in moderation,cutting back on the sugar. consuming more fruits and veges, and exercise would help so many of these kids. I find it difficult to try to talk to the parents of the obese children when the parents are also obese.
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Old 01-31-2011, 10:30 AM
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Good article. We always fed brown rice or oatmeal cereal, but honestly not even that much because my boy was a booby baby through and through.
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Old 01-31-2011, 12:55 PM
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I also feed the brown rice cereal and oatmeal. I use organic, so I don't know if it makes a difference, but I don't even think I've seen white rice cereal made in a couple of years. I have only noticed brown rice cereal. I do feed the organic boxed stuff, also because of the iron. As far as the rest of the baby food, I sometimes use organic jarred fruits and veggies (NOT meat-ick!), but I make the majority of the baby food I use from organic fresh fruits, veggies, and grains. It teaches the littles to like the good stuff from an early age. Good article, though, I agree with Catherder that it's time this gets more attention.
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Old 01-31-2011, 06:36 PM
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My big concern is about feeding them cereal too early, too much, with the connection to diabetes, and obesity is connected to diabetes. The parents that start putting cereal in their bottles at 1-2 months so they will sleep horrifies me.
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Old 01-31-2011, 10:54 PM
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Thanks for sharing this article. I was recently looking at ads and was thinking about the baby food processor (was in Toy's R Us ad last week came in the mail) and it was $99, but I'm sure I could find other alternatives cheaper. I have heard of many people online who do the freeze the baby food in an ice cube tray and would consider this for my future children because I always like to try new methods. I wish our education classes would focus more on infant's and children's eating habits. I would pay for the classes, but they are hard to come by.
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Old 02-01-2011, 05:19 AM
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I always did veggies or fruits first with my own kids. And always home made. While DD1 did jarred foods at daycare for convenience, when she was with us I tried to just feed her anything we were eating pureed. I used a small cup food processor or immersion blender. You can find regular food ones for much cheaper than the "baby food" ones.

I do love the organic baby foods that come in a pouch now for when we'll be out and about. It has a spout on it that baby can just sip from. No spoons!
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Old 02-01-2011, 05:49 AM
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I don't do any baby food until exactly the first day of their eigth month. I start with green, yellow, then orange veggies. I do puree meats with whatever we are having here. I do the minimum cereal for their age group and then supplement with our grains.

Once they have had all of our stuff then I puree whatever we are having for lunch and give them it in a mixed stew and sprinkle on their couple of tablespoons of dry organic brown rice.

I freeze combo stews and individual servings of fruits and veggies in muffin tins. Then once frozen I put them in a ziploc for easy use.
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Old 02-01-2011, 06:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nannyde View Post
I don't do any baby food until exactly the first day of their eigth month. I start with green, yellow, then orange veggies. I do puree meats with whatever we are having here. I do the minimum cereal for their age group and then supplement with our grains.

Once they have had all of our stuff then I puree whatever we are having for lunch and give them it in a mixed stew and sprinkle on their couple of tablespoons of dry organic brown rice.

I freeze combo stews and individual servings of fruits and veggies in muffin tins. Then once frozen I put them in a ziploc for easy use.
Goodness, with the food program how do you get away with not starting solids until 8 months? I thought the food program mandated starting between 4 and 6 months (but I'm not on it and don't really know). I totally applaud you for waiting though, that's awesome! Do your parents usually wait to introduce solids until 8 mos too? Are your parents okay with you giving them foods on your own schedule vs. the parent's schedule (as in, introducing new foods)? What contraption do you use for pureeing?

The reason I'm pestering you with all these questions is that I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to provide food for the babies who will be starting in my care in the next year (two pg dcms) but haven't been sure how to go about it without going the "traditional" route with it (i.e jarred foods). With the infants who have come into my care previously, the parents provided the food and an ongoing list of what had been introduced...and it was seriously annoying. One dcm was okay, but the other sent the same darn foods every.single.day. for MONTHS. I don't want to go through that again! My own baby is going to be similar in age to these babies and I would MUCH rather provide their food myself (of course, realize that I'm planning almost a year in advance of any of them getting solids here because I'm the first due and that's in four months!)
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Old 02-01-2011, 06:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MG&Lsmom View Post
I always did veggies or fruits first with my own kids. And always home made. While DD1 did jarred foods at daycare for convenience, when she was with us I tried to just feed her anything we were eating pureed. I used a small cup food processor or immersion blender. You can find regular food ones for much cheaper than the "baby food" ones.

I do love the organic baby foods that come in a pouch now for when we'll be out and about. It has a spout on it that baby can just sip from. No spoons!
Same here. If I remember correctly the first food for my kids was mashed bananas. When I finally did start rice cereal, I used organic brown rice. I sent homemade baby food to daycare. Ugh, I remember it being soooooo time consuming but I was committed to it and so I made it happen. The worst part wasn't even the cooking. It was the washing - posts and pans, cutting boards, plastic containers from daycare every day, clothes, the list was never ending!

Organic baby food that comes in the pouches or sold in the refrigerated section were WAY to expensive and we never would have been able to afford it. So we just bought organic whole foods and made our own.
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