Can I give rice water to my baby? If yes, how to make rice water for babies?
What are the benefits of rice water for babies and kids? Is rice water or arisi neer apt as the first food for babies?
Let us understand in detail.
If I think of rice water, it takes me back to my childhood. One of the fond memories I have about my late grandmother was her mid-morning food intake. She would be helping my mom clean the fish/ wash the rice / chopping the vegetables for lunchtime. As a mid-morning drink, the warm starch water from the boiled rice would be drained and she used to drink it with a pinch of salt. I believe she had warm rice water throughout her life as the mid-morning drink.
Rice for babies:
Rice is the top leading food crop/grain in many parts of the world mainly India, China, Indonesia, and Bangladesh. In India, rice is a staple food of eastern and southern regions.
Rice is also one of the first weaning foods introduced to a baby after 6 months during annaprashan, choroonu, or annaprashana, an Indian tradition where proper solid food is introduced to the baby for the first time. In fact, rice is considered the oldest weaning food due to its ease of availability, cooking method, and affordability.
So what is rice water? Let’s see.
What is rice water?
In India, rice water is also known as chawal ka paani, kanji paani, kanji vellam, arisi neer or akki niru. It is the all-liquid starch product that you get by draining cooked boiled rice. It has a unique taste of rice. When cooled, it thickens and can take the texture of jelly.
In the past, it was given to both elderly and kids alike as a mid-morning drink, thirst quencher, or immunity booster.
The previous night’s rice water was served to cows.
Nutritional components of rice water:
Rice water consists of
- Water-soluble vitamins like Vitamin B1(thiamine), B2(riboflavin), and B3(niacin)
- Bioactive compounds
Rice water doesn’t have fiber, Vitamin A, and other important rice proteins.
Rice water for babies – All you Need to Know
With all the nutrients mentioned above, rice water becomes the easiest first food for babies. It can be given as such or mixed with purees of fruits and vegetables alike. For example, rice water mixed with purees of banana, sweet potato, pear, carrots, beetroot, toor dal, etc all can be introduced for babies.
How to make rice water for babies?
Rice water is one of the easiest things you can make at home. Here is how you can make rice water.
- Rice – Two tablespoons (could be kolam variant)
- Water – 1 cup
- Sterilize all the feeding essentials like bowl and spoon
- Rinse rice thoroughly with water and get rid of any impurities
- Take a pan with 1 cup of water and let it boil
- Add rice and let it cook on medium heat until the rice gets cooked and water turns cloudy white. This is the stage when starch gets separated from the rice
- Strain the rice using a colander and collect the rice water
You can use kolam, ponni, matta, or any other rice variety for making rice water.
Is rice water the same as gruel?
No, rice gruel is the cooked rice in a thin porridge consistency whereas rice water is the starchy liquid you get when you strain the cooked rice.
Benefits of rice water for babies
There are many health benefits of rice water for babies considering it as economical and one of the first foods for babies.
Rice water is a great source of instant energy for babies due to carbohydrates.
Ease of preparation with just 2 ingredients, rice water for babies is a great source of health and rejuvenation.
Apt for relieving gastritis in babies
During the gas formation in the tummy of babies, they tend to try and feel restless. Rice water can tackle the gas conditions in babies.
Perfect food for constipation and loose motions in babies
Rice water could be the only food that can be given to babies during constipation and loose motions alike. Since it contains more calories, this is safe for babies as a replacement for ORS solutions in the market.
Stomach friendly food during teething
Vomiting and diarrhea caused due to teething are common in babies. The lost sodium content in the baby’s body during this time can be recovered by giving rice water with a pinch of salt. However, you may take your pediatrician’s consent for the same.
Good source of vitamins
Rice water is apt for the mental and physical development of babies due to the presence of vitamins like Thiamin, Niacin, Riboflavin, and Vitamin B6.
This should be done for babies under the consultation of pediatricians only.
Rice water is proven to be an excellent moisturizer and toner for skin. It is also proven to reduce skin rashes, dermatitis, and eczema in babies.
Since most of the skin ointments have steroids that are strong for infant skin, rice water can be considered as a safe alternative.
Apt food to be given during fever
If your baby is feverish, he /she would not have enough food due to which they will get irritated. Rice water has been proven as one of the foods that are safe to be given to babies during fever.
Points to consider before/while giving rice water to baby:
- If your baby is allergic to barley or oats, the baby could be likely allergic to rice as well. Hence consult the pediatrician to get proper guidance
- If the baby is severely dehydrated in cases of diarrhea, do consult the doctor immediately
- Do not replace breastmilk or formula with rice water as it’s wrong to consider rice water as the single source of nutrition. Rice water cannot be a substitute for breastmilk or formula.
- Always prepare a fresh batch of rice water every time. Since rice water turns solid or sour with time, make sure it’s always given within half an hour of preparation
- Always prefer organic rice for babies
- Always check your rice water for stones or any other impurities. Before cooking rinse the rice with water till it runs clear.
What if your baby is allergic to rice water?
Rice is one of the less allergenic foods for babies. But still, we can’t rule out the possibilities of rice water allergy in babies. Here are the symptoms of rice water allergy in babies
- Loose motions
- Stomach pain
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty in breathing
Is there any drawback of giving rice water to your baby?
Yes. Some of the drawbacks are as follows.
- Could cause allergic reactions in babies
If your baby is allergic to whole grains, it could be that baby would be allergic to rice and rice water too. Though rice is hypoallergenic, it could still pose an allergic reaction to high-risk infant groups.
- Intake of breast milk or formula could be reduced
Rice water or any other liquids if provided could fill up a baby’s tummy and could interfere with breastfeeding. Since it quenches the thirst, the breast milk intake of the baby would be reduced.
The nutrients found in rice water are lesser compared to whole rice. Hence rice water cannot be considered as a wholesome food for babies.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the frequently asked questions when it comes to rice water for babies.
What are the preferred rice varieties for making rice water?
Raw white rice can be used for making rice water for babies.
Can I give brown rice water to the baby?
Brown rice is more nutritious than white rice due to the presence of fibrous layers. However, you can avoid brown rice water for the first 1 year and stick to raw white rice for babies. The fibers in brown rice water could be difficult for the baby to digest hence it’s better to avoid brown rice water.
Can I add rice water to baby cereal and purees?
Rice water can be added to cereals, purees, dal pain, or anything baby is fed.
Can I use rice water as a hair rinse for babies?
If you see, a baby doesn’t need hair care except a good shampoo to clean off the dirt and oil. But you can still use it as a topical hair rinse for babies.
- Can I give rice water to a 2-month-old baby?
No. A 2-month-old baby doesn’t need anything other than breast milk or formula.
- When can I start rice water for my baby?
Rice water can be introduced when your baby turns 6 months old. However please consult your pediatrician before giving rice water.
- Can I give rice water to a baby with a cough and cold?
Yes. Even during cold and cough, you can give rice water to the baby. But make sure it’s given lukewarm.
- Is rice water good for baby diarrhea?
Yes, rice water is apt for babies during diarrhea. But take the consent of the pediatrician in that case.
- Can rice water be given to babies every day?
Yes, rice water can be given to babies every day.
- Shall I add salt to rice water when I give it to my baby?
Salt and sugar are not required for babies below 1 year of age. Hence you can avoid salt in rice water for babies.
- Does rice water help with reflux?
Cooked rice or rice porridge mixed with formula /breast milk could help with the baby’s reflux as the thickened food could help make the stomach content heavier. However, rice water being thin in consistency would not help much with the reflux in babies.
- Can I give basmati rice water to my baby?
White raw rice water is being given to babies because of its easy digestibility. Basmati or such long-grained varieties of rice would be difficult for the baby to digest.
Hope this article on rice water for babies was helpful.
Have you tried rice water for your baby? How did you introduce rice water – as it is or mixed with purees?
Let me know in the comments.