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Best Organic Baby Cereal 2022

May 03, 2022 13 min read

Best Organic Baby Cereal 2022

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 baby cereal, it's actually the most common first solid food introduced to infants with 65% of babies enjoying cereal meals by 4 to 6 months.

We can certainly say that the preference for cereal feeding makes good sense. Baby cereal is quick and easy to prepare and it comes in the form of oats, barley, spelt, rice, and other grains. Plus cereals come in single or multigrain. Regardless of what option you go with, you can be confident that your baby's cereal is fortified with the iron, vitamins, and minerals that your baby needs.

In 2020, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found that infants that eat baby cereal had significantly greater nutrient levels when it came to carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals compared to infants that did not consume baby cereal.

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 baby cereal offers strong nutritional benefits and therefore they recommended including it as part of a baby's diet to support your baby's growth and development.

Benefits of Eating Baby Cereal

 

Even More Benefits of Baby Cereal

A good sourse of ironBabies’ 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 momma during pregnancy start to deplete typically this is around the 6-month mark. At this age, if babies aren’t getting enough iron it can result in developmental delays and cognitive deficits.

Breastfed babies are at the greatest risk for iron deficiency as breast milk has low iron content. That’s where baby cereals come in! 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!

Teaching Tool for Helping Your Baby Explore Solids

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. The semi-solid nature of infant cereal can also make for an easier transition to more complex finger food like soft fruits, veggies, and meats.

Baby cereal can be added to breast milk or formula as a thickener which is particularly helpful to babies with gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) or dysphagia who require thicker food for safe swallowing. Parents have found success in using this method to reduce excessive spit-up in their babies because solid foods tend to sit better in the stomach than liquids. However before you try this method, please speak with your pediatrician. 

Helpful for Treating Reflux

Our Top 5 Favorite Organic Baby Cereals!

Despite all of the benefits that baby cereal has to offer, not all baby cereals are created equally. We love Holle's baby cereals because not only are they organic, but they are also a nutritious, full-grain, easily digestible option for babies. 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.

Learn more: Baby Snacks: Best Healthy and Nutritious Options

 

1. Holle Organic Oats Porridge (250g)

Holle Organic Oats Porridge

This oatmeal baby cereal is made from carefully selected Demeter-quality organic oatmeal. It’s easy and versatile to prepare, nutritious, and free of added sugar. 

Age: From 5 months onwards

Ingredients: Wholegrain oat flour 100%, vitamin B1 

Organic Certification: EU organic, Demeter

Dietary Information: Lactose-free, vegan, vegetarian

 

2. Holle Organic Millet Porridge (250g)

Holle Organic Millet Porridge

This porridge is made from delicate organic whole grain millet flakes. It’s easy and versatile to prepare, nutritious, and free of added sugar. 

Age: From 5 months onwards

Ingredients: Wholegrain millet flour 100%, thiamin

Organic Certification: EU organic

Dietary Information: Lactose-free, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian

 

3. Holle Organic Milk Cereal with Bananas (250g)

Holle Organic Milk Cereal with Bananas

This milk cereal is made from 99% organically produced ingredients. The base of the cereal consists of Demeter-quality organic whole grain spelt, organic cow’s milk, premium organic vegetable oils and it's free of added sugar. 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. 

Age: From 6 months onwards

Ingredients: Demeter wholegrain wheat flour 34%, partly demineralized whey powder 21%, skimmed milk powder 16.2%, palm oil, dehydrated banana pulp 8.5%, maltodextrin, calcium carbonate, vitamin A, thiamin, vitamin D

Organic Certification: EU organic

Dietary Information: Egg-free

 

4. Holle Organic Junior Muesli Multigrain with Fruit (250g)

Holle Organic Junior Muesli Multigrain with Fruit

This muesli is made from carefully selected Demeter-quality wholegrain cereals with a tasty mix of fruits. 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. This cereal is an ideal breakfast food to incorporate into your family’s meals!

Age: From 10 months onwards

Ingredients: Rolled oats 35%, wholemeal spelt wheat flour 20%, spelt wheat flakes 20%, cornflakes 15%, 3-fruit flakes (banana puree, wholemeal wheat flour, apple juice concentrate, date juice concentrate) 10%, thiamine (vitamin B1)

Organic Certification: EU organic, Demeter

Dietary Information: Lactose-free, vegan

 

5. Holle Organic Spelt Porridge (250g)

Holle Organic Spelt Porridge

This porridge is made from carefully selected Demeter-quality organic spelt. It’s easy and versatile to prepare, nutritious, and free of added sugar. 

Age: From 5 months onwards

Ingredients: Wholegrain spelt flour 100%, thiamin

Organic Certification: EU organic

Dietary Information: Lactose-free, vegan, vegetarian

 

Check out our best breakfast recipes for your baby with organic porridge and cereal:

 

What Makes Holle Baby Cereal Special?

Holle only uses organic whole grains in their products which is why they have some of the best baby cereals on the market today. Are you wondering what all the hub-hub about whole grains is? In simple terms, the more refined a cereal is, the more that its nutritional value is lost. You see, grains are made of three parts...

  1. Bran: The outside layer, which is rich in fiber

  2. Endosperm: The middle layer, which is rich in starch

  3. Germ: The innermost layer, which is rich in micronutrients

Why We Love Wholegrain Cereal

    Whole grains keep all three parts of the grain intact whereas the endosperm is the only part left in refined cereals. What that means is that refined cereals are leaving out the most important part of the grain! 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 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!

    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. 

    For added benefit, Holle recommends putting vitamin C-rich fruit juice or fruit puree into their vegetable and milk cereals. Vitamin C helps to enhance your little one's meal by boosting the vitamin content of the food and also helps your baby to better absorb iron from their baby cereal.

     

    How Do We Choose the Best Baby Cereals?

    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 Holle cereals because they check all those boxes.

    What we look for in a cereal

     

    Holle uses biodynamically or organically grown food in their products. This ensures that no chemicals, synthetic pesticides, fertilized, or GMOs are used in their agricultural practices.

    But for Holle it's not just about growing raw ingredients, it also matters how they're processed and cooked which is why they used a system of various checks to ensure their products meet the highest legal, safety, and nutritional requirements. The soil, seeds, plants, animals, and people are treated with care every step of the way.

    Since the 70s Holle has gone above and beyond securing the Demeter certification for many of their baby food products. Demeter certifications are similar to but even more stringent than that of the EU. Only a few regulatory-controlled association programs hold the Demeter logo.

    Holle recognizes the unique responsibility that they bear as baby food manufacturers which is why they take care to respect the environment thus protecting babies' futures. Since 2014 all Holle baby porridge, milk cereals, and junior mueslis have been CO2 neutral!

     

    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! Many non-organic food manufacturers slip in icky ingredients like artificial colors and preservatives, or added sugars and sweeteners.

    Some commonly used additives like sucrose and corn syrup may make baby food taste better but the trade-off is an increased risk of childhood obesity. Because of this many parents have turned to European Organic products because they generally have more stringent rules than North America that restrict the use of those kinds of harmful ingredients.

    Why Do Parents Choose Organic Baby Food Over Non-Organic Baby Food?

    Any food product with the European Organic logo contains at least 95% organic ingredients while private certifications like Demeter go as far as requiring 98%.

    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 other 2 to 5%. 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 control checks.

    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. EU organic farms prohibit the use of growth hormones, chemical pesticides, modified organisms, and other toxic substances so that parents can feel good about putting their dollars where it counts. 

    Learn more: Different Levels Of Organic Certification In Europe

     

    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 toxic metals in baby food and we are here to answer your questions!

    A recent report from the US House Committee on Oversight and Reform found that multiple American commercial baby foods were tainted with dangerous heavy metals including lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic.

    Unfortunately, both standard and organic American baby foods were found to be contaminated. The brands implicated in the report were Nurture, Beech-Nut, Hain, and Gerber (Earth's Best Organic). Of the foods found to be contaminated, rice-based products were one of the worst offenders.

    You're probably thinking to yourself if there's anything safe in the world it should be baby food, so how exactly are these metals making their way into this food? Well, Arsenic is ubiquitous in the environment as it naturally occurs in soil, air, and water.

    However, because rice plants are grown in water, rice absorbs arsenic more so when compared to other crops. 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 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 issues such as cancer and cognitive and behavioral problems in children. However, evidence from one study has shown that babies that currently consume rice cereal and food do not have any adverse effects. 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 baby 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 toxic metal 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?

    How Can You Reduce the Risk of Exposure to Arsenic for Your Baby?

     

    Limit the Consumption of Rice Cereals

    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 the 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 baby cereal with multiple grains including rice can be a good option as this baby cereal has less than a third of the arsenic found in standard single grain rice cereal.

    Healthy Baby Cereals We Recommend

    When starting your baby on solids and looking for baby cereal, we have a top 5's list of some of the best organic baby cereals out there. If you're looking for an alternative to rice-based baby cereal, you'll be happy to know that each of these products is rice-free. Plus they offer a bunch of different grain options that are known to have a lower risk for arsenic contamination. They're also a good source of healthy foods when trying to introduce variety into your baby's diet.

    Let's not ignore the elephant in the room, we know that toxic metal contamination in baby cereal can certainly feel scary. For added comfort, we asked Holle for a statement about what kinds of safety practices they have in place to test for these harmful substances. Here's what they told us... 

    "We test every raw material for heavy metals (cadmium, lead, mercury, arsenic) and aluminum, as well as risk-oriented monitoring of the end product. We comply with the limit values according to legal requirements of Europe and Switzerland. These are based on extensive scientific testing by the European Food Safety Authority"

    Healthy Baby Cereals We Recommend

    For nutritious whole grain baby cereal, check out our list of the best baby cereals below:

    1. Holle Organic Oats Porridge
    2. Holle Organic Millet Porridge
    3. Holle Organic Milk Cereal with Bananas
    4. Holle Organic Junior Muesli Multigrain with Fruit
    5. Holle Organic Spelt Porridge

       

        Conclusion

        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 have higher nutrient levels and lower incidences of vitamin and mineral deficiency compared to babies who don’t eat cereal.

        Baby cereal can be an excellent source of iron which is essential to healthy brain development. Eating cereal acts as a teaching tool for helping your baby develop a positive relationship with food. Plus, if your baby struggles with reflux issues, the thicker consistency of cereal can be a great treatment.

        Benefits aside, not all cereals are created equal. That's why it’s key to pay attention to the composition of baby cereal and to consider the advantages of choosing an organic product. It’s best to go for baby cereals that are made with whole grains because unlike processed grains these retain important nutrients.

        European organic cereals have the added advantage of using recipes with simple organic ingredients, they are free of many unwanted or harmful additives, and their raw materials are sourced from sustainable organic farms that are committed to animal welfare. It’s also important to reduce the risk of arsenic exposure by choosing whole grains which are known to be low in arsenic. We love Holle’s porridges, milk cereals, and junior mueslis because they check all of the boxes when it comes to what to look for in a cereal!

        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.

        Disclaimer: Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for your baby, because breast milk provides your child with all the essential nutrients they need for growth and development. Please consult your pediatrician if your child requires supplemental feeding.
         

        Sources

        1. Food & Feeding. American Academy of Pediatrics.
        2. When can my baby start eating solid foods?. KidsHealth from Nemours. 2018.
        3. Baby food for thought: how safe is rice cereal?. University of Rochester Medical Center. 2016.
        4. For Consumers: Seven Things Pregnant Women and Parents Need to Know About Arsenic in Rice and Rice Cereal. US Food and Drug Administration. 2016.
        5. Feeding your 8- to 12-month old. KidsHealth by Nemours. 2018.
        6. Starting solid foods. American Academy of Pediatrics. 2018.
        7. Heavy metals in baby food? What parents should know and do.Harvard Medical School. 2021
        8. Heavy Metals and Nitrogenous Compounds in Food and Feed NRL. Fera Science Limited


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