Crackers, biscuits and cookies are a common cause of choking for children younger than age 3. That said, you need not purchase meltable “baby crackers” either. When shopping for crackers or rice cakes for a baby, here you want to look for:
- No sugar added
- Low sodium
- Soft consistency (should easily crumble if you press it between your fingers)
- “Thin” style
Unfortunately, there are few crackers that check all those boxes. And even organic brand crackers marketed for toddlers typically have quite a bit of sodium and added fruit sugar. Further, those small, bite-sized bunny crackers aren’t big enough to hold anything nutritious on them (like ricotta, bean spreads, or hummus).
To complicate matters, many crackers and teething crackers marketed for babies are made from rice, and all rice contains traces of arsenic, which is a known carcinogen.1 This unfortunately includes organic rice and brown rice (in fact, brown rice tends to have higher levels of arsenic because, as a plant, rice stores arsenic in the outer grain kernel which is stripped in the processing of making white rice).2 Does this mean all rice is bad? No. In fact, in areas where rice is a staple food, the cooking style and water-to-rice ratio offset some of the arsenic content. What we know, however, is that processed, condensed rice products like rice cereal and rice rusks often contain higher levels of arsenic than the freshly cooked rice would.
So which are the best crackers for babies? It depends on your goals. If you want to minimize exposure to arsenic, opt for thin puffed cakes made from ingredients other than rice, such as Suzie’s spelt cakes or Suzie’s corn and quinoa cakes. If your goal is to minimize sodium or serve gluten-free food, choose thin-style rice cakes, such as Lundberg’s whole grain cakes. This information is not sponsored—we simply want to give you examples as a starting point in your research.
To be clear, regardless of any “superfood” marketing, most crackers, teething rusks, and rice cakes lack the nutrition we like to see in foods for babies. The best way to use products like rice cakes is as vehicles for something very nutritious. Like chicken liver spread. Or a kidney bean spread. And if you find yourself relying on the rice cakes, puffs, or rusks every day, it’s time to reel them in and focus on unprocessed foods. There is just something crazy attractive about crackers and that preference seems to form quickly.