Are Rice Cakes Safe for Babies? Choking Risk, Arsenic Levels + More

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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Have you worried about if you can give your baby rice cakes? In this article, we will cover the risk of choking and the rumors of arsenic levels in these snacks.

Overall, rice cakes, such as those intended for babies, are safe as long as your baby is at least 12 months old. However, avoid giving them to a younger baby because of the increased risk of choking.

Let’s talk more about the choking risk and safety of rice cakes, potential arsenic levels, and more.

Are Rice Cakes Safe for Babies? 

Rice cakes are safe for babies that are at least 12 months old. These crunchy puffed rice circular cakes, whether intended for infants or not, are often flavored with sea salt, cinnamon sugar, or chocolate.

rice cakes on a white plate

Since rice cakes are typically hard and crunchy, they are not suitable for younger babies under one year old. Even at the finger food stage, starting at ten months old, your baby should only be given soft foods (source: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia). 

Therefore, once your baby is 12 months old and older, rice cakes can be a healthy snack for your baby (source: National Health Service [NHS]).

However, make sure they are unsalted and unsweetened. You could pair them with fruit puree or nut butter, such as almond or peanut butter. Other toppings for added flavor include plain full-fat yogurt that has been pasteurized. 

Let’s summarize this information in the table below.

Age in MonthsCan Your Baby Have Rice Cakes?
6 to 9 MonthsNo, rice cakes are hard and crunchy and should not be given to babies under one.
9 to 12 MonthsNo, rice cakes are hard and crunchy and should not be given to babies under one.
12 Months and OlderYes, your baby can have small pieces of rice cake. 

Is Arsenic in Rice Cakes a Concern for Babies? 

Arsenic is a toxic chemical that is often found in rice and rice products around the world, such as rice milk, rice cereal, and rice crackers (source: Food Chemistry).

In addition, arsenic is a known carcinogen that can contribute to adverse effects on development in infants, such as decreased learning (source: United States Food & Drug Administration [FDA]).

In 2020, the FDA began doing work to set a maximum level of arsenic in infant rice cereal (source: FDA). However, “adult” rice cakes or those that are not specifically made for babies do not have as strict of a maximum guideline for the amounts of arsenic.

Therefore, stick with “baby” rice cakes intended for young children, and provide a variety of different grains rather than just relying on rice products.

In other words, there is no need to avoid altogether giving your baby rice cakes in fear of the levels of arsenic. However, feed your infant or toddler a well-balanced diet that includes many different varieties of grains.

rice cakes with banana and peanut butter toppings

Can Babies Choke on Rice Cakes? 

Rice cakes pose an increased risk of choking your baby because they are typically hard and crunchy. This texture would be very difficult to chew for a baby between six and 12 months old, and they could choke. However, once your baby is older and at least one year old, they can have small amounts of rice cakes and other baby snacks that are not soft. 

Are Rice Cakes Healthy or Good for Babies? 

Overall, rice cakes are relatively low in nutrition. They are low in calories, fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals (source: United States Department of Agriculture [USDA]). Also, they do not contain a significant amount of dietary fiber. Even those designed for babies do not necessarily offer a beneficial nutrition profile.

However, adding smooth nut butter, soft fruit, or pasteurized yogurt can add nutrition, providing calories, fat, fiber, and protein to bulk up your baby’s snack. 

Additionally, many rice cakes are flavored with sweet or savory flavors, such as cheese, cinnamon, chocolate, or onion. However, these varieties can be high in added sugar or salt, so it is because to get lower sugar and salt options. Keep in mind that plain rice cakes can always be topped with a healthy topping to flavor it.

I hope this article helped you learn the safety and nutrition of rice cakes for your baby.