Can 4-Month-Old Babies Eat Brown Rice?

Baby boy being fed by mother
Baby eating a spoon of baby cereal. (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)

At 4 months old, many babies are ready to begin eating solid foods. Brown rice is easily digestible and unlikely to cause an allergic reaction, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Although a 4-month-old cannot eat cooked brown rice as is, brown rice makes a suitable baby food when processed as a commercial infant cereal or ground and cooked to make porridge.

Readiness

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants need only breast milk or formula until they are 4 months to 6 months old. During these first months of life, babies instinctively use their tongues to push against anything put in their mouth. Babies are ready for solid food when they lose this tongue-thrust reflex. Some 4-month-olds are ready to gobble up rice cereal and other first foods, while others push the spoon right out of their mouths. By 6 months of age, nearly all babies are ready to begin eating solid foods, such as rice cereal.

Commercial Infant Cereal

Most store-bought rice cereals are made from rice that has been cooked and processed into flakes that dissolve easily. Most major brands make the cereal from white rice. Some organic infant cereals are made from brown rice. These products are ready to serve when mixed with breast milk, formula or water to the desired consistency. For a 4-month-old, the consistency should be liquid.

Homemade Rice Porridge

Parents can make homemade brown rice infant cereal. Ruth Yaron, author of “Super Baby Food,” offers a method for preparing homemade baby cereal from whole grains. To make brown rice porridge, grind brown rice in a blender or clean coffee or spice grinder for two minutes to pulverize the rice into a fine powder. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of brown rice powder into 1 cup of boiling water and cook, whisking constantly, for about 10 minutes. For a 4-month-old's first meal, start with 1 tsp. or 2 tsp. of cooled porridge and thin with breast milk or formula to a pourable consistency.

Considerations

Brown rice, or any other food, should not replace a feeding of breast milk or formula for a 4-month-old baby. At this age, breast milk or formula provides all the nutrients a baby needs in an easily digestible form. If baby is ready, add brown rice cereal or porridge to his or her normal feeding routine but do not use it to replace a feeding of breast milk or formula. When starting out with brown rice, feed your little one a small amount of cereal between nursing or bottle feeding. By 6 months old, brown rice and other solid foods begin to play a bigger role in baby’s diet.

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