Porridges and Cereals in Baby’s Diet: Pros and Cons
According to the nutritional recommendations, cereals are the group of products that we should eat every day. They are a basic element of the food pyramid right after vegetables and fruit for both adults and children. Let’s take a closer look at why they are so important, whether there are any drawbacks to eating such products, and which specific products can be included in a baby’s diet.
Reasons to Give Your Baby Porridges and Cereals
The main nutrient provided by cereal products is carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are primarily “fuel” for our body. They are processed in the body into glucose, which is necessary for the functioning of our cells. But that’s not all.
Grain products also provide the human body with other nutrients. Whole grain cereals, in particular, are a source of protein, fiber, and minerals such as iron, magnesium, zinc, B vitamins, and even calcium (e. g. quinoa). Therefore, according to the nutritional recommendations, we should eat mainly whole grains.
Whole grain cereals also have a high nutritional density. This means that, even in small portions, they provide a lot of energy and nutrients. That is why it is critical to include them in infants’ and children’s diets.
Porridges and infant cereals are the perfect meals to start expanding the baby’s diet. You can give it in the form of mush to eat with a spoon, which is excellent self-reliance training for a little gourmet. Or you can also prepare it in a liquid form and give it to the child to drink in a cup. Some parents feed their toddlers with porridge from the bottle, but this can contribute to the formation of tooth decay.
One more benefit is that it takes just a few minutes to prepare the porridge. It is enough to mix with warm water, milk, or baby formula in the proportions recommended by the manufacturer.
Are There Any Drawbacks in Giving Cereals to a Baby?
If you want to use ready-made porridges for babies, pay attention to the composition. It may seem that such products are better because they are made especially for infants, so they must be easy to digest. But keep in mind that the law does not prohibit adding sweeteners and salt to food products for infants.
Many products of this type are added with sweeteners, ranging from sugar (sometimes listed in the ingredients as sucrose) to substitutes with a similar function — to sweeten a meal. These can be, for example, concentrated fruit juice, e. g. grapes or apples, or malt. If you choose a porridge that already contains modified milk and/or fruit additives, there is a high probability that it will contain an addition of sweetener as well.
For this reason, if you buy ready-made porridges for babies, be sure to check the label with composition, even if it indicates on the front that it does not contain added sugar. Avoid products containing sugar, syrups, concentrated fruit juices, and malt. And refuse those with added salt. Babies should not be fed sweetened or salted meals at all.
To ensure the proper development of your baby, remember to provide it with a variety of meals, including cereals. A wide range of cereal products in the form of porridges and gruels is available on the market, both for general consumption and those intended specifically for infants.
For some of these products, cooking is not required because the starch has been pre-glued. Nutritionists recommend choosing mainly rice porridges, corn porridges, wheat porridges (semolina), and multi-grain porridges (mixtures of several grains in various proportions, including wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, millet, buckwheat).