Did you know that your baby's first food does not have to be commercial infant rice cereal? Or any rice cereal for that matter.

Here is the scenario: You go to your infants 4 or 6 month appointment and your pediatrician suggests that you can start feeding them rice cereal. It is exciting, and a little sad that your baby is grown up enough to eat food from a spoon. You head to the grocery store, down the baby isle and there you find a couple varieties of rice cereal. White rice, brown rice, barley, organic, maybe even a few more. All the babies on the front of the box are smiling. You purchase the cereal and are excited to have your baby try it for the first time. Even though your intentions were good, there may be more to your baby's first food than you thought.

First foods can be introduced to your baby as early as 4 months, but at this stage it’s more for practice. Food in the first year is an introduction to tastes and textures, not to fill nutritional gaps. Breastfeeding is still the best food for your baby, providing all the nutrients they require in an easy, cost free way. Breast milk (or breast milk substitute if necessary) should make up the majority of your baby's intake.

Why is rice cereal not the best first food?

Rice cereal is an extremely high glycemic food, meaning it spikes blood sugar. Eating a diet of high glycemic foods significantly increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, kidney disease, other chronic diseases, and causes general oxidative stress to your insides. There is no sense in starting a perfectly healthy body off on the wrong track.

Why do most pediatricians still recommend iron fortified rice cereal as first food? I don't have a straight answer to this question but you have to remember that YOU are the parent and you can decide to take their advice or not. I think it is because we live in a time where most people have a fast paced lifestyle and our government runs the food industry. Rice cereal is easy to make, easy for the infants to eat, and easy to sell to the parents since its FORTIFIED with vitamins and minerals.

But, easy does not mean beneficial, good, or correct. The number one ingredient in rice cereal is processed white rice flour. There are some vitamins and minerals sprinkled in but babies can definitely get those in other ways. To me, it’s obvious there are better choices for your baby than rice cereal. According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, egg yolk should be your baby's first food. Egg yolks from free range pastured hens will contain special long-chain fatty acids which are critical for the optimal development of the brain and nervous system.

Other great first food choices are mashed avocado, mashed overripe banana, and mashed cooked sweet potato. Does it not make more sense to feed your baby real, whole foods? These foods may be surprising to some, but I encourage you to take a more natural approach when beginning to feed you baby from a spoon. Ditch the rice cereal, our baby's will thrive on real food!