The Price of Health

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How much does it cost to start a baby on better food? In my local Safeway this summer I found the most popular white rice (white flour) cereal available at 29.4c per serving, or $8.23 if fed twice a day for two weeks (as is often the case for those first weeks of solids). The same brand also makes an organic whole grain brown rice cereal that sells for 39.9c per serving, or $11.17 for two weeks.  The switch to whole grain and organic of the same brand would cost less than 3 dollars a month.

The premium organic brand came in at 49.9c per serving for whole grain cereal, or  $13.97 for two full weeks.

Safeway’s own O Brand was priced at only 26.9c per serving (not on sale). It cost less than the conventionally grown white rice flour that most babies get.

Switching from white flour cereal to organic whole grain can save money. And even if you opt for the most expensive organic whole grain option, the additional cost is less than 6 dollars per two weeks with two servings per day!

Why stick with cereal?

There are good reasons to choose a whole food, such as avocado, banana, or sweet potato as babies’ first food, teaching babies that food comes from the produce aisle or farmer’s market – not from a box.

When I wandered over to the produce aisle on the same day, I found the same amount of avocado for only 28.5c, organic sweet potato for only 16.8c, and organic banana for only 4.9c – all cheaper than popular boxed white flour baby cereal. By the way, the same amount of banana in a baby food jar was 28c, not organic. Why buy it?

Egg yolk is another good option for babies. I found omega-3 eggs for only 26.6c apiece.

My favorite food for babies is to give them a couple of tablespoons of the most healthy things the parents are eating, in a texture they can manage. This costs little, if anything extra.

Busted

When I encourage parents to skip white rice cereal entirely, one of the first objections I hear is cost. But it’s possible to skip white rice cereal, provide better nutrition and save money all at once. And even if you opted for the most expensive switch, starting babies on good food is worth an extra 6 dollars a month.

Dr. Alan Greene

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Dr. Greene is the founder of DrGreene.com (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

 

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