Cooking Brown Rice For Your Baby
We are sometimes asked if it’s OK for babies to eat brown rice and if brown rice is better for babies than white.
Well, the answer to both of these questions is a big YES!
Brown rice is not just the healthiest choice for your baby –
it’s good for the whole family and is packed with important nutrients.
Please note: You should always discuss the introduction of new foods to your baby with his doctor. Remember that all new foods should be introduced separately, at least four days apart, to help you identify possible food allergies and digestive problems.
Why is brown rice better for baby than white?
A grain of rice is composed of several different layers. Only the outside layer, the ‘hull’, is removed during the production of brown rice and very little goodness is lost by the grain in the process.
But during the production of white rice, the grains are milled to remove more layers – the bran and almost all of the germ. This process strips the grains of the majority of their nutrients.
In the final part of the process, another layer called ‘aleurone’ is removed and the grains are polished. But aleurone is a
good source of essential fats, which play
such an important role in your baby’s diet.
So what are you left with?
White rice – a refined starch that offers your little one very little in the way of nutrition.
Source: Mayo Clinic (Whole Grains)
Why is brown rice such a healthy choice for baby?
Just look at what it contains!
- vitamins B1, B3 and B6
- manganese (essential for healthy bones, manganese also reduces the symptoms of asthma and is a
powerful, energy-providing antioxidant)
- Essential Fatty Acids
Other important benefits gained from eating brown rice include a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and lower levels of
Yet a very large percentage of these valuable nutrients are lost during the production of white rice.
By law, white rice in some countries must be ‘enriched’ and certain nutrients must be added back in. So it should be just
as good for you as brown rice, right?
Wrong – because the nutrients are not in their original form, they are far less beneficial to health.
In fact, enriched white rice is STILL lacking 11 valuable nutrients that are NEVER replaced
(see The World’s Healthiest Foods for more information).
Brown rice is full of flavour
Some people say that brown rice does not taste as good as white. But these people have often grown up ONLY eating white
rice, which actually has very little flavour (unsurprising, when you consider how much is removed from the grain to produce it!).
Brown rice does taste VERY different to white! Its flavour is almost nutty and – conversely – people who regularly eat brown rice
find white rice very bland and unappetizing.
That’s why it’s a good idea to get your baby accustomed to the full flavour of nutritious brown rice from an early age –
you’ll probably find that he turns his nose up at starchy old white rice in the future!
Storing brown rice
Carefully check the ‘best by’ date on any packets of brown rice that you buy for your family.
Once you get it home, store it in the refrigerator. This is because, unlike white rice, the oily germ of brown rice is intact.There is the possibility that this could turn rancid if the rice is not stored at a sufficiently cool temperature.
You have to be very careful when storing cooked rice, as bacteria can multiply very quickly. Many sources say that you can store
it for up to 4 days in the refrigerator – but we prefer to err on the side of caution and suggest that you only cook rice
for your baby on the day that you plan to serve it to him… and throw any leftovers away!
Alternatively, you can make up a batch of brown rice and freeze it. Because the bacteria in rice multiply so rapidly,
it is important to cool cooked rice very quickly if you plan to freeze it. The best way to do this is to spread it out in a
shallow container – but never leave rice sitting for more than one hour at room temperature. Once the rice has
cooled, freeze it in individual freezer bags, so you have handy portions available for your baby’s next meal.
You can store frozen rice for up to 6 months.
Is brown rice safe for babies?
Brown rice is rarely responsible for allergic reactions.
But according to research discussed on the Worlds Healthiest Foods website, traces of arsenic may be present in non-organic U.S. brown rice. Although these traces are too small to
cause serious short term illness, in the long term they can have negative effects on the body.
You may, therefore, prefer to offer organically grown brown rice to your baby.
Cooking brown rice for your baby
The easiest way to prepare brown rice for very young babies is to first rinse it, then grind it in a food processor
that’s built for the job! The
Cuisinart Mini-Prep Processor
– US only) is ideal and is great for making purees, too!
Here’s a simple recipe for baby cereal that you can try. You may also like to check out our Infant Cereal FAQ.
If your baby is older, try using short grain brown rice in dishes that you cook for him. Because it’s fairly soft, it sticks together in
‘clumps’ and is perfect for creamy dishes like rice pudding.
Brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice…
Around twice as long, in fact. But you can get around this by measuring out the amount of water you will need to cook it,
then soaking it overnight – it really speeds up the cooking time! Remember… don’t drain the water you soaked it in, use it to cook the
rice instead. This means you don’t lose any of its precious nutrients.
Ideas for your baby using brown rice
Brown rice can easily be substituted for white in any recipe calling for rice – but do bear in mind that it will take longer to
cook unless you have pre-soaked it. Here are some other suggestions…
- Combine cooked brown rice with warm breast milk or formula, then add a little touch of cinnamon or nutmeg.
- Mix cooked brown rice (either ground or regular) with a dollop of unflavoured natural yogurt and a fruit puree
of your baby’s choice!
- Combine cooked brown rice with steamed vegetables – you can either puree them before mixing, or just chop them
if your little one is happy to chew!
- Cook brown rice for your baby in homemade
vegetable stock/broth for a rich,
- Cook a little batch of short grain brown rice, clump it together with your fingers and serve it to your baby as a very healthy finger food.
Brown rice baby food recipes
Peach and brown rice breakfast (6 months+)
2 oz (1/4 cup) brown rice
1/2 ripe peach
8 fl oz (1 cup) water
a little breast milk or formula
Using a food processor, grind the brown rice into a powder.
Then, peel the peach, remove the pit and cut the flesh into little cubes.
Bring the water to the boil in a small saucepan.
Stir in the rice powder, lower the heat and continue to stir.
Add the peach cubes, then – stirring often – simmer gently for 10 mins.
If the texture is too thick for your baby at the end of the cooking time, thin it with a little breast milk or formula. Breakfast is ready!
Baby’s brown rice pudding (6 months+)
2 oz (1/4 cup) cooked brown rice
2 dried apricots
2 tbsp apple juice
1/2 small, ripe banana
tiny pinch nutmeg
Before you start, soak the apricots in water for around an hour to soften them.
Then, put all the ingredients into a food blender and process until nice and smooth.
To adjust the texture of this brown rice pudding for your baby, just add a little more – or a little less – apple juice.
If the texture is a little too thick after pureeing, then add a little stock, water or juice to achieve the desired texture!
Apple and pear brown rice (6 months+)
2 oz (1/4 cup) brown rice
4 fl oz (1/2 cup) apple juice
1 oz (1/8 cup) raisins
1/2 small apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 small pear, peeled, cored and chopped
Put all the ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to the boil.
Stir well, then reduce the heat and cover with a tight fitting lid.
Simmer the mixture for around 30 mins – by the end of the cooking time, the rice should have absorbed all the apple juice and
should be nice and tender.
Savoury baked brown rice (6 months+)
Baking brown rice gives it a fluffier texture than boiling it – and it’s very simple to do…
8 oz (1 cup) brown rice
12 fl oz (1 1/2 cups) water or homemade stock/broth
1 stick of celery (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 deg F/180 deg C.
Pour the rice into a frying pan/skillet and, stirring constantly, warm over a medium heat until the grains turn golden brown. This step is entirely optional – but it makes the final result much more tasty!
In the meantime, chop the celery and saute until it’s tender – this is another optional step but it really
does flavour the rice and is a particularly important ingredient if you’re only using water to cook the rice.
Combine the sauted celery, rice and water/stock in an oven-proof dish, cover and put in the oven.
Bake until the rice has absorbed all the water (35-45 mins).
Cool to a safe serving temperature and serve to your baby as a delicious side dish.
Yummy one-pot brown rice dinner (7 months+)
One pot cooking is ideal for busy Mums! Little preparation beforehand – and little to clean up afterwards! This easy dinner is nutritious and tasty – why not increase the quantities and serve it to the whole family?
4 oz (1/2 cup) brown rice
2 oz (1/4 cup) cooked chicken, cut into strips
8 fl oz (1 cup) homemade chicken stock or water
1 oz (1/8 cup) carrots, peeled and diced
1 oz (1/8 cup) broccoli florets
1oz (1/8 cup) courgette/zucchini, diced
2 oz (1/2 cup) grated Cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
little pinch of freshly ground black pepper (optional)
Pour the water/stock into a saucepan and bring to the boil, then add the rice, stir and bring back to the boil.
Cover the saucepan with a tight fitting lid, then reduce the heat to very low. Cook for 30 mins.
Briefly remove the lid and add the remaining ingredients (except for the cheese).
Put the lid back on and cook for 10 more mins, then remove from the heat.
Sprinkle with the grated cheese and set aside until cool enough for your baby.
You can chop this dish or mash it for your baby if the texture is a little too lumpy!
Brown rice casserole with tuna (6-7 months+)
5 oz (just under 3/4 cup) brown rice
10 fl oz (1 1/4 cups) water
4 oz (1/2 cup) celery, chopped
2 oz (1/4 cup) natural yogurt
4 fl oz (1/2 cup) milk (you can use breast milk/formula if you prefer)
little pinch dried tarragon
6 oz (3/4 cup) tuna canned in water
6 oz (3/4 cup) courgette/zucchini, diced
4 oz (1 cup) grated Cheddar
Bring the water to a boil and stir in the brown rice. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 35 mins. Remove from the heat.
Stir in the celery, milk, yogurt, tarragon, tuna and courgette/zucchini, then mix thoroughly.
Pour into a casserole and bake at 350 deg F/180 deg C for 30 mins.
Top with the grated cheddar and serve – yummy!
Try something different…