We are all witnessing a huge movement sweeping across North America…and it’s pretty awesome. A collective force of people wanting to improve their health, reduce chemical exposure, and protect children from a host of diseases through local, organic, and home cooked meals. I love all the articles I’m reading about canning food, growing backyard produce, raising chickens for fresh eggs and more! There is also a campaign spearheaded by Dr. Alan Greene & Cheryl Greene called The Whiteout Movement. Quite simply, they are calling out to parents in the hopes of reducing the number of babies being introduced to white rice cereal. It seems to be one of the most common beginner steps with food introduction with babies. The goal is to return to feeding babies at the dinner table, with the family, letting them taste and sample ‘real food’ rather than processed white rice cereal. Why is white rice cereal so bad? The number one ingredient is processed white rice flour. The idea that introducing and giving a baby white cereal is that the child’s long term food preferences are influenced by early food exposures. According to Dr. Greene:
At this critical window of development, ripe with opportunity, we are giving babies a concentrated, unhealthy carb. Metabolically, it’s not that different from giving babies a spoonful of sugar.
I found the information under the Whiteout FAQ very helpful. I’m past the solid food/baby stage in my family, but I would have loved options when starting my last 3 children on solid foods. All four were exclusively breast fed for 6 months but the last three suffered from such severe constipation the day I started rice cereal I actually skipped cereal altogether and went straight to regular food. One time in my parenting journey that I actually listened to myself and I’m so glad I did. Very cool that Dr. Greene is not trying to call negative attention to companies that sell white rice cereal, rather his goal is for every child’s first grain to be a whole grain and even though baby’s first food doesn’t need to be a cereal, the easiest switch is to purchase a whole grain version of baby cereal. Here are more quotes from the Whiteout FAQ that really got my attention. Parents-to-be have you heard about delayed cord clamping? It’s included in the FAQ below – a great point to talk to your Dr. about!
During that precious first year, it takes an average of 6 to 10 exposures in a positive environment for 85% of babies to imprint on a flavor and texture. If a baby gets 14 such exposures, it’s even morel likely. Since I was born, most American babies, myself included, have been given that many meals of just processed white flour before being exposed to any other food. This same flavor preference turns into unhealthy kid’s meals and junk food, including too many cupcakes, soft hamburger buns, and too much white bread.
Rice cereal is also the #1 source of food calories for typical babies (after breast milk and formula) all the way from the first breath until they take their first steps and become toddlers.
Processed white flour is the single largest food influence on taste preferences and metabolism during the entire first year. It’s no wonder we have a snowballing obesity and diabetes epidemic.
Let every child’s first food be a real food. My preference for the first bite is to give a baby a bite of something they’ve seen the parent eat, something they’ve seen come from the produce aisle, a CSA, garden, or a farmers’ market. I love avocados, sweet potatoes (cooked until soft), or bananas as a first bite — mashed with a fork with some of the breast milk or formula they’ve already been getting. ** I love this one! **
Babies need plenty of iron for their growing bodies and brains. Is breast milk inadequate? It appears that babies are designed to get iron from both breast milk and directly from their mothers at birth.
Unfortunately, in the 20th century it became vogue to quickly clamp the umbilical cord within 10-15 seconds after the head is delivered. If cord clamping isn’t rushed, and takes place when the umbilical cord stops pulsing (~60 to 180 seconds), the baby gets several tablespoons more blood, which could be enough iron to tide them over for an additional 3 months later on when they are starting solids. Thankfully, what the medical community calls “delayed” cord clamping is now becoming more common.
To be sure your baby is getting enough iron you have several other options:
Choose an iron-fortified whole grain baby cereal.
Give supplemental iron drops. (It’s what’s added to the cereal anyway.)
Choose iron-rich foods for your baby.
Get plenty of iron yourself, if nursing.
Use cast iron for cooking for your baby or the rest of the family.