Oatmeal vs. rice cereal? For many a new mom, that is indeed the question.
Mommies only want the very best for their precious little ones. Finding what that “best” is can be a challenge — particularly when it comes to their food.
Thinking about what to choose when you’re about to introduce solid food to your baby can definitely cause a lot of worry-filled days (and nights!).
Reaching that milestone of starting solids is amazing, but can be very confusing. And there it comes—that looming debate.
Oatmeal vs rice cereal. Yup, that’s something many, many moms mull over and over as they start their journey to solids with their babies.
Remember, new mom: This is perfectly normal.
Of course, you’ll want to know everything about these two options and figure out what’s best for your baby. Picking your baby’s transitional meal from milk to solids is a huge decision.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
We’re here to give you the low down on oatmeal and rice cereals to help you out in the great oatmeal vs rice cereal debate — and help you make an informed decision for your baby.
Oatmeal vs Rice Cereal – Which one is better?
Oatmeal cereal is often referred to as a “starter” cereal. It’s generally introduced to babies when they’re between four to six months as a way to start them off on solid food.
We’ve listed a number of ways oatmeal cereal is good for your baby:
Oatmeal cereal is filled with a ton of healthy stuff
Oatmeal cereal is beneficial because it is rich in fiber, protein, antioxidants, some B vitamins, and is fortified with iron.
The amount of fats and proteins in oatmeal cereal is higher compared to other grains, and they also contain manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, folate, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B5, and iron.
Oatmeal also contains Beta-Glucan
Beta-Glucan is a powerful soluble fiber. It’s got a lot of benefits:
- It reduces blood sugar levels
- It helps in the growth of good bacteria in your little one’s digestive system
- It lowers cholesterol levels
- It helps make babies have that feeling of fullness
Oatmeal helps lower the risk of childhood asthma
One chronic disease that many children are afflicted with is childhood asthma. There are quite a few illnesses that may appear to have similar symptoms as asthma, but it can be identified when the following symptoms are presented: Coughing, weakness, and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing (wheezing sounds may also be present when they breathe).
Childhood asthma can cause a lot of difficulty in young ones, but a way to lower the risk of developing it is with oatmeal. The reason? Studies have shown that a common cause of this chronic disease among kids is when they are transitioned to solid food too early.
So starting off with oatmeal may be a big help in your baby avoiding developing asthma.
Oatmeal aids in managing blood sugar
Oatmeal is a major player in preventing diabetes, which is a reasonably common disease wherein high levels of sugar are present in the body. Aside from helping to prevent diabetes, oatmeal also heightens insulin sensitivity in children’s bodies because of the presence of Beta-Glucan.
Oatmeal has a lot of antioxidants
A lot of antioxidants and polyphenols – beneficial plant compounds – are found in oatmeal. These antioxidants spare babies from the ugly discomfort of itchiness, because they have anti-inflammatory and anti-itching effects on our little ones. Antioxidants also aid in their bodies making more nitric acid. This is good, because the gas molecules in nitric acid helps in better blood flow with the dilation of blood vessels.
Though oatmeal has many, many benefits, it can also bring some side effects. One very common side effect of oatmeal is allergic reactions. A lot of kids develop allergies to oatmeal, so moms (and dads!) should be careful when you start to introduce them to it — observe them as you feed them for any allergic reactions.
If the choice on what to give babies to introduce them to solid food was a popularity contest, rice cereal would definitely be right up there on top. It’s a good match for babies for many reasons.
Here are the many ways rice cereal is a sound choice for your baby:
Rice cereal is easy to digest
Precious little tummies have to be handled with care, especially as they start to take in solids. Rice cereal is made from rice grains, making it very easy to digest. Plus, it very rarely causes any allergic reaction, too!
Rice cereal aids in increasing caloric intake
When you mix in rice cereal with breast milk, it becomes a much denser meal for little ones. The gourmet baby course of rice cereal and breast milk is perfect for the growing appetites of growing tots — after all, at 4-6 months, babies are all about growing, and they need food that will help them with that. Feeding them with this combo eight to ten times a day will raise the calories they take in.
Rice cereal aids in treating GERD
GERD is a disease wherein babies spit up extensively. The formula helps in reducing this, which is why some formula products contain rice cereal. Rice cereal also aids in the treatment of babies who may be afflicted with gastrointestinal diseases or colic. So if you are looking for ways to help treat your baby from these conditions, rice cereal is the way to go.
Rice cereal can be a sleep aid
Okay, so although there hasn’t been much if any scientific evidence that can really prove this, there also hasn’t been any evidence to the contrary.
But it’s been said that rice cereal can help if your baby is having a hard time drifting off into dreamland at night. They say that feeding them with formula or breast milk that is mixed in with rice cereal can help babies have less difficulty in sleeping.
The main thing rice cereal has going against is that it doesn’t have a lot of nutritional value. Especially compared with its nutrient-rich counterpart, rice cereals don’t contain a lot of nutrients.
Yes, your baby will gain weight, and yes, it has cholesterol, but little ones won’t really get a lot of nutrients when they are fed with this.
Another disadvantage is that rice cereals can also cause constipation, causing a lot of discomfort to babies. Some may even develop serious complications. If you observe any side effects on your child upon feeding them rice cereal, limit their intake.
Oatmeal vs Rice Cereal: Similarities and differences
Wondering how oatmeal and rice cereals are the same — and how they’re not? Check out our rundown of similarities and differences:
Oatmeal and rice cereal are the same in that…
- They are both safe for babies. Oatmeal and rice cereal are touted by experts to be safe for intake for most little ones
- They can both be prepared with ease. These are both very simple baby food that can be quickly whipped up by moms (or other caregivers)
- They are both nutritional. They may not have the same amount of nutrients, but they both have nutritional value for babies.
- They are both bland. This is meant in the best way — their blandness makes it easy for most babies to tolerate them in their tiny tummies.
- They are both single-grain. Again, this comes back to easy digestion. Because they are single grain and not multi-grain, babies will be able to digest them easily.
- They are both good for babies of the same age range. More specifically, both oatmeal and rice cereal are recommended for babies when they are at least 4 to 6 months of age.
Oatmeal and rice cereal are different because…
- Their textures are not the same. Even grown-ups are familiar with this: Oatmeal is more grainy, while rice cereal is creamier and smoother.
- They are both made out of grains – but not the same ones. Rice cereal is, obviously, made from rice grains. Oatmeal, on the other hand is, as the name says, made from oat grains.
- One has a higher allergy risk. That would be oatmeal, which can cause an allergic reaction in some babies. Rice cereal causes no allergies to most little ones.
- They have different flavors. And by flavor we mean that rice cereal barely has any, while oatmeal can be on the nutty, more flavorful side.
- One may cause more tummy issues. Rice cereal is known to cause constipation. Babies can sometimes develop struggles when it comes to doing number two because of this, while oatmeal is not known to cause any difficulties – because it contains fiber.
You’ve Got This!
There are many good reasons for trying out both rice cereal and oatmeal as your baby’s transitional meal to solid food. There are also a few cons in each corner.
It may seem quite tricky now, but it won’t always be this way. You’ll grow more confident and more sure of your choices. Remember that at the end of the day, you know what the right choice for your baby is.
Consult with your pediatrician for guidance, too. And know that you’ve got this, mom!