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It can be an exciting and occasionally trying time once your little one is ready to make the move from breast milk or formula to solid foods. Gone are the days of routine milk preparation, now you're tasked with deciding exactly what first foods are best for your baby.
For many parents, their first food of choice is a baby cereal, which is the most common first solid food introduced to infants with 65% of babies enjoying cereal meals by 4 to 6 months. Baby cereal is quick and easy to prepare, and it comes in a huge variety of different single and multi-grains.
Keep reading to learn about some of our organic baby cereal recommendations from the brands HiPP and Holle and all the benefits that baby cereal has to offer your little one!
Our Top 5 Favourite Organic Baby Cereals From Holle and HiPP
Despite all of the benefits that baby cereal has to offer, not all baby cereals are created equally. We love both HiPP and Holle cereals because not only are they organic, but they are also a nutritious and easily digestible option for babies.
Let's take a look at some of the best baby cereal from these brands!
Our Favorite Holle Cereals 🥣❤️
In addition to being certified European organic, most of Holle's cereals also hold the Demeter seal which is the highest organic certification in all of Europe!
Holle's cereals come in a variety of grains and you have the option of selecting porridges, milk cereals, or junior muesli to give your baby a diverse, well-rounded diet. Here are some of our favorite Holle cereals...
#1 Holle Organic Oats Porridge
This oatmeal baby cereal is suitable for babies from 5 months and is made from carefully selected Demeter-quality organic oats. It's easy and versatile to prepare, nutritious, and free of added sugar. This single-grain cereal is made with 100% organic whole-grain oats and is enriched with vitamin B1 (thiamin), making it lactose-free and vegan.
This porridge is suitable for babies from 5 months and is made from organic wholegrain millet flakes. It's easy and versatile to prepare, nutritious, and free of added sugar. It is made with 100% wholegrain millet flour and enriched with vitamin B1, making it lactose-free, gluten-free, and vegan.
This milk cereal is suitable for babies from 6 months and is made from 99% organically produced ingredients. The base of the cereal consists of Demeter-quality organic whole-grain spelt, cow's milk, banana, and vegetable oils. Like all Holle cereals, this cereal is free of added sugars!
This cereal is suitable for use as part of a mixed diet and makes for a perfect evening meal! Holle recommends feeding this cereal with a spoon to get your kiddo used to eating with utensils.
This muesli porridge with fruits is suitable starting at 6 months and made with Demeter quality wholegrain wheat and oat flakes, and organic banana, apple, and raspberry. It's easy and versatile to prepare, nutritious, and free of added sugar. Make it into a milk porridge by adding infant formula or whole cream milk or use water for milk-free muesli when starting to wean!
Age: From 6 months onwards
Ingredients: whole grain wheat flakes, oat flakes, banana fruit powder, raspberry flakes (with rice flour), apple pieces, thiamin
This porridge is made from carefully selected Demeter quality whole grain corn flour and organic whole grain rice flour and millet. It's easy and versatile to prepare, nutritious, and free of added sugar.
Did you know that HiPP products go through up to 260 safety checks before making their way into your hands? All of their cereals are EU-certified organic plus they hold the HiPP Organic seal, which represents an even higher standard of purity.
HiPP cereals come in a variety of grains and you can choose between their porridges, good night milk porridges, or muesli to give your baby a wide variety of cereal. Here are some of our favorite HiPP cereals...
#1 HiPP 5 Grain Organic Porridge
This multi-grain cereal is suitable for babies from 6 months and is made with organic wholegrain cereals including wholemeal flour and wheat semolina. This vegan product is free from added sugar and contains vitamin B1.
This product is suitable for babies from 6 months and is made with organic wholegrain cereals and bananas and is gentle on a baby's tummy. It also contains important micronutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids (ALA), iron, iodine, and calcium.
Age: From 6 months onwards
Ingredients: Wholemeal wheat flour, skimmed milk powder, wheat seal vegetable oils, banana flakes, calcium carbonate, vitamin C, iron diphosphate, vitamin E, vitamin B1, vitamin A, potassium iodate, vitamin D
Organic Certification: EU organic, HiPP Organic Seal
#4 HiPP Organic Good Night Milk Porridge - Biscuit
This good night milk porridge is suitable for babies from 6 months and is made with a base of organic wholemeal wheat flour, milk, and baby biscuits. This baby cereal is also enriched with vital nutrients like iron, iodine, and calcium and is free from added sugar. The porridge can be prepared in no time and very easily with freshly boiled water!
Age: From 6 months onwards
Ingredients: Whey product, wholemeal wheat flour, skimmed milk powder, wheat seal, vegetable oils, biscuits, calcium carbonate, vanilla extract, vitamin C, iron diphosphate, vitamin E, vitamin B1, vitamin A, potassium iodate, vitamin D
Organic Certification: EU organic, HiPP Organic Seal
This vegan oat porridge is suitable for babies from 8 months and is free from added sugar. It is gentle on a baby's tummy and contains organic oats, a medley of organic fruits, and is enriched with vitamin B1.
Holle cooks their whole grains in a way that unlocks their nutritional contents and turns them into fine soluble flakes that are easy on your baby's digestion! Holle infant cereal comes in a variety of grains and parents have the choice between multigrain and single-grain cereal.
Are you wondering what all the hub-hub about whole grains is? In simple terms, the more refined a cereal is, the more its nutritional value is lost. You see, grains are made of three parts...
Bran: The outside layer, which is rich in fiber
Endosperm: The middle layer, which is rich in starch
Germ: The innermost layer, which is rich in micronutrients
Whole grains keep all three parts of the grain intact whereas the starchy endosperm is the only part left in more refined cereals. What that means is that refined cereals are leaving out the most important part of the grain (AKA the germ)! Most nutrients like fibers, vitamins, and minerals are found in the germ which a refined baby cereal is lacking.
Whole grains help to support immune system function, are important in cell communication and gene regulation, are anti-inflammatory, and are rich in antioxidants. These grains also help to protect against cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer. Because of these important protective mechanisms and vital nutrients, when it comes to baby cereal, we say whole grains or no grains!
How HiPP Produces Clean Baby Cereals
HiPP products hold the EU organic certification along with their HiPP Organic seal. These certifications ensure that HiPP products are made without the use of artificial colors, preservatives, and flavor enhancers, or GMOs. Plus, the HiPP organic seal means that they test their products over 1,000 harmful substances.
There are so many reasons to love HiPP products, here are a few more highlights:
They only use untreated seeds
They prohibit the use of mineral nitrogen fertilizers
The higher nutrient intake of cereal-eating babies meant that they had a lower incidence of deficiencies in iron, vitamin E, and calcium. This led researchers to conclude that serving baby cereal offers strong nutritional benefits which made them feel confident in recommending it as part of a baby's diet!
Benefits of Iron-Fortified Baby Cereal
Babies' brains undergo rapid development during their first year of life and sufficient iron intake plays an important role in this process. Iron becomes especially important during late infancy when the iron stores a baby gets from their mother during pregnancy start to deplete which is typically around the 6-month mark.
At this age, if babies aren't getting enough iron it can result in developmental delays and cognitive deficits. That's where cereal feeding can be a great option! Iron-fortified cereals are often recommended because, with just a ¼ cup of cereal, your baby will get most of their daily iron intake met!
Iron comes in two different types, heme (easily absorbed) and non-heme (less easily absorbed). Pairing non-heme iron sources with foods high that are high in vitamin C can help your baby's body absorb the iron, which in turn helps support their development. Some examples of Vitamin C-rich fruits include citrus fruits and berries.
If you're interested in trying out some iron-fortified cereals, HiPP offers many tasty cereal products with added iron, just see the image below 🖼️👇.
Cereals as a Teaching Tool For Your Baby
Feeding baby cereal can be a great stepping stone for little ones making the jump from breast milk or formula to solids as the smooth texture is often readily accepted by babies. The thicker texture of a baby cereal compared to formula or breast milk helps your baby learn to chew and swallow. Plus, the semi-solid nature of infant cereal also makes for an easier transition to more complex finger food like soft fruits and veggies.
Why Do Parents Choose Organic Baby Food Over Non-Organic Baby Food?
Many parents are concerned about the ingredients that go into their baby's food and rightfully so! Some non-organic food manufacturers slip in icky ingredients like artificial colors and preservatives, or added sugars and sweeteners. Because of this, many parents have turned to European organic products because there are greater restrictions on the use of these ingredients.
EU Organic certified products must contain at least 95% organic ingredients, but, in many cases, they go above and beyond the minimum. The other remaining percent of ingredients must follow strict conditions laid out by the EU. Most of the time important vitamins and minerals are what make up the remaining 2 to 5% of ingredients.
Buying organic food also means greater product transparency. Next to the EU organic logo, you can find a control body number that tells you exactly where all the agricultural raw materials come from and what inspection body performed the control checks.
Furthermore, environmental sustainability and animal welfare are at the core of organic farming. This is particularly appealing to eco-conscious parents looking to minimize their impact on our planet.
When it comes to finding the best baby cereals, we look for pure simple recipes with no harmful additives, raw materials sourced from organic farms, and a commitment to sustainable farming practices and animal welfare. We're happy to offer HiPP and Holle cereals because they check all those boxes.
Holle and HiPP use biodynamically or organically grown food in their products, meaning their foods are free of GMOs and other unwanted additives used in conventional farming. It also matters how grains are processed and cooked which is why these brands use a system of various checks to ensure their products meet the highest legal, safety, and nutritional requirements!
Should Parents be Concerned About the Potential for Arsenic in Rice Cereal?
We know that as parents your number one priority is to protect your baby, so we completely understand concerns that you may have about toxins in baby food and we are here to answer your questions!
You're probably thinking to yourself if there's anything safe in the world, it should be baby food, right? So how exactly is arsenic making its way into this food? Well, Arsenic is ubiquitous in the environment as it naturally occurs in our soil, air, and water.
However, because rice plants are grown in water, rice absorbs arsenic more so when compared to other grains. Given that arsenic is a naturally occurring element, it's impossible to remove it from the environment or food supply entirely. Thus, you can find traces of arsenic in just about every food under the sun from mushrooms to poultry and fruit juice to seafood.
Consuming high levels of arsenic has been linked to a variety of health issues in children. While rice is a known source of inorganic arsenic, baby rice cereal can also be an important part of babies' diet as it's an easily digestible, low-allergen first food.
Part of the reason why arsenic in rice baby cereal exists is a lack of proper regulation which allows this toxin to go unfiltered. To help combat this issue, in 2016, the European Union introduced laws on the amount of inorganic arsenic allowed to be present in rice-based commodities such as infant cereal.
Because infants and children are most susceptible to dietary exposure to inorganic arsenic, the maximum permissible levels allowed in rice-based infant and child food products have been set appropriately low at 0.1 mg/kg or less. Beyond the necessity of government regulations to help mitigate the risk of arsenic exposure, there are a lot of easy ways that you as a parent can help reduce your little one's exposure.
How Can You Reduce the Risk of Exposure to Arsenic for Your Baby?
Limit the Consumption of Rice Cereals 🍚
Baby rice cereal poses less of a risk when consumed in moderation, so don't let your baby eat it too much or too often. It's best to avoid feeding infants and children exclusively on rice or rice cereal products. Rice cereals are often used if a baby requires a gluten-free diet. If your baby has a gluten food allergy, we recommend Holle's millet porridge which is free of gluten.
Buy Rice Cereal from Safer Sources 🛒
If you are buying rice cereals for your baby, make sure you do your research into where the ingredients are sourced. Rice grown in the USA has been found to have the highest levels of arsenic according to testing by consumer reports. The kind of rice you buy also matters, white basmati, and sushi rice contain less arsenic.
Cook Rice Cereal with Excess water 💧
By cooking rice cereal for your baby using extra water and then pouring it off before feeding, you can reduce inorganic arsenic levels by 40 to 60%. It's recommended to use 10 parts water to 1 part rice.
The More Grains the Merrier 🌾
A report by Brooks Applied Labs tested a variety of baby cereals and found that oatmeal, barley, organic quinoa, buckwheat, and multigrain infant cereals had lower amounts of inorganic arsenic compared to rice cereal. Even infant cereal with multiple grains including rice can be a good option as this infant cereal has less than a third of the arsenic found in standard single-grain rice cereal.
It's super important for babies to have a balanced diet to help them grow. Once your baby is ready to try out solids, starting at the 4 to 6-month mark, baby cereals can be a great option.
Infants who eat baby cereal are likely to have higher nutrient levels and lower incidences of vitamin and mineral deficiency compared to babies who don't eat cereal. Eating cereal also acts as a teaching tool for helping your baby develop a positive relationship with food.
European organic cereals have the added advantage of using recipes with simple organic ingredients without artificial additives, and their raw materials are sourced from sustainable organic farms that are committed to animal welfare.
We love HiPP and Holle products because they check all of the boxes when it comes to what to look for in baby cereals!
Please be aware that this information is based on general trends evidenced in babies and toddlers, it is in no way medical advice. Your doctor should be your first source of information and advice to make choices related to your child's diet. Always consult your pediatrician prior to taking any decisions about your child's diet or if you notice any changes in your child.
Dr. Agustina Fernandez earned her medical degree from the prestigious Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina. With a deep-rooted passion for pediatrics, Dr. Fernandez is currently on the path to specializing in children's healthcare. Recently, she has delved into the vital field of infant nutrition. Her research interests include breastfeeding, infant formula, and baby food in little ones’ formative years. Dr. Fernandez's commitment to this area of study underscores her dedication to ensuring the health and well-being of children from their earliest days.
Dr. Hsu received his medical degree from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, and holds a Master’s of Science degree from both Harvard University and Tufts University.
Dr. Hsu did research in MRI neuroimaging research of fetal brains at Boston Children’s Hospital, an affiliated hospital of Harvard Medical School. Dr. Hsu is currently a full-time medical writer and consultant.
Outside of the medical profession, Dr. Hsu loves to write, learn new languages, and travel