Rice Breakfast Porridge

Ali Segersten Sep 23, 2011 40 comments
Rice Breakfast Porridge

We have a newborn baby in the house now and that means that our meals have changed a little. A few weeks ago our sweet new baby girl, Camille, arrived peacefully in our home by candlelight.....a successful VBAC at home! Our children were all there to witness her birth, though we couldn't really wake our 3-year old twin boys to be fully present. I put myself on a mildly restrictive breastfeeding elimination diet once she was born to help ease the transition into life outside the womb.

Newborn babies have such delicate digestive systems up until around three months of age. Compounds in certain foods can cause fussiness and crying, excess gas, and even skin rashes in the breastfeeding baby. Luckily, it is really simple to just remove the most common offending foods from your diet at birth or before to keep baby calm and happy. I actually removed any dairy I was eating a few weeks before she was born as it can take up to a month for dairy to clear your system. Dairy, specifically the casein protein, is often the cause of a lot of digestive and skin issues in newborns. Our sweet baby girl has been sleeping through the night since she was a few days old and is a very peaceful, happy baby.....just like our first daughter, Lily. She has had a few bouts of fussiness, you know the kind where they are really uncomfortable and want to nurse and then cry and then nurse and then cry and so on. I realized those were the days that I had eaten a lot of citrus. Testing it one more time to make sure, we found that this is the one food that I simply cannot eat right now. I have not tested them all, such as dairy, cruciferous vegetables, or raw garlic, and, in fact, I would suggest not testing these three foods for many months. I can eat cooked onions, a little cooked garlic, and tomatoes....oh we have been enjoying tomatoes in all sorts of recipes lately, thank goodness!


Baby Camille, 3 weeks old, with big sister Grace!

I did a great post a year or so ago on Nourishing the New Mom with a list of foods to eat and not to eat in the postpartum period. You can refer to that for more information. Below is a short list on the most common foods breastfeeding babies can react to. I would suggest to avoid them all at the time of birth and then if you are feeling up for it, slowly challenge each food in every 4 days, similar to our Elimination Diet. Please note that some babies require mom to go on a much stricter elimination diet, usually eliminating most foods and sticking with only with rice, millet, quinoa, chicken, turkey, yams, squash, salad greens, olive oil, and sea salt for 2 weeks and then slowly adding back in foods like nuts and seeds, other mild fruits and vegetables, and lastly, those listed below to determine the source of baby's upset.

Foods that most often cause issues in the breastfeeding baby:

  • dairy (including goat and sheep)
  • eggs
  • raw onions and garlic (sometimes cooked can also aggravate babies) 
  • citrus
  • tomatoes
  • a lot of acidic fruit
  • peanuts/peanut butter
  • chocolate
  • soy
  • wheat/gluten
  • some cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage)
  • caffeine 

About the Author

Ali Segersten

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University and a Master’s of Science in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine from the University of Western States. She is a Functional Nutritionist, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Alissa is the founder and owner of Nourishing Meals®.

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I am wondering where kale falls on the cruciferous veggie list as a food to avoid during the postpartum time? Green smoothies seem to be on the good list, but they're usually made with kale. I suspect kale would be less-gas producing than say, cabbage or brussels spouts, but I am not certain I am following where to draw the line on the cruciferous greens (I ask that now after devouring 1/2 a head of kale chips... :-)). I guess I'll know soon enough if kale is problematic!

THANK YOU. Thank you thank you thank you thank you! As a mother of a celiac disease child, this post is amazing. When he was screaming, crying, up all hours of the night for 16 months straight, I would have loved to have had a *glimmer* of this information!! This is so reassuring for our next one. You've made my day- Make that, life. We struggled with nursing until he weaned at 16 months. Every single day was a huge challenge. Between the hope of the wonderful 3 year old he has become and all I have learned in the process (now including this elimination diet!) I might actually be able to have the big family I always wanted :)

Wonderful post for all moms who want nursing to go well!

A belated congratulations on the new baby, and on the homebirth!

What a wonderful recipe. I'm an oatmeal addict, but I'm annoyed with the high price of certified GF oats. Since I found your rice porridge recipe last week, I've eaten it every single day - usually with cinnamon, diced apples and raisins. Yumm!

We made this last week and it was easier then I thought it would be. It is now a regular breakfast item at our house. I like it with ground flax seed sprinkled on top, and then loaded with chopped fruit.

I just wanted to say congrats on your vbac homebirth! I am a pretty new follower and am loving your blog :) I had a VBA2C homebirth a few months ago, here is my story page http://thecrunchymamacita.blogspot.com/p/birth-stories.html

The first thing I noticed in the picture was actually not the porridge but Beyond the Rainbow Bridge! :)

Thanks everyone for your sweet comments!

Kristy - Here are some meal ideas (what I have been making lately):

-Mung Bean and Yam Dal over brown rice
-Baked Organic Chicken, roasted root veggies, salad with nuts and pears and balsamic dressing, gf chia dinner rolls
-Baked Salmon, quinoa, roasted yams, greens
-Lentil and Kale Dal over quinoa
-teff muffins
-homemade gf sandwich bread (good for almond butter or sunbutter or turkey sandwiches for lunch)
-sticky brown rice, adzuki beans, greens, and toasted sunflower seeds
toasted sunflower seeds with coconut aminos for a snack
-lots of avocados!
peaches, pears, nectarines for a snack

These are just some ideas. I think I need to do a blog post now on nutrition/meals ideas/recipes for nursing moms. Hope this little bit is helpful! -Ali :)

Congratulations on your new daughter! She is beautiful. Thank you for sharing the information on the restrictive diet while breast feeding the first three months. My first son had colic, my second son was very cranky and I'm now pregnant again. I'd like to really try to watch my diet this time around and see if I can't prevent it. Thank you & congrats to you & yours!

That is one pretty baby! She looks so alert and healthy! Congratulations!

Jill Farris (mama to 8)

What a beautiful and healthy looking baby. Thanks for sharing such a great post. Enjoy every moment. xo

I LOVVED! seeing your photos of your new baby.. Oh!!.. PRECIOUS!... Been waiting.. and hoping to see her! Thanks for posting.. and Happy New Mothering all over again!

Laura B

I enjoyed this post and will try this breakfast. I never thought I would have "that" baby- but I do (and I love her!) she's two months and I wish I had known then what I know now- I too would have gone off all dairy before hand. Live and learn. I have a family history of allergies (egg, dairy etc.) and we only figured this out now with her. Have you had any experience with mucousy and snotty diapers? Hers have been constant since week 4. This week I'm starting the rice and turkey diet (with squash, sweet potatoes). I've been off of dairy now for a month but not strictly until now. Keep the recipes coming!

A very big congrats to the whole fam! I can't believe how much Camille looks like you Ali! Thrilled and inspired to hear that you got to have an HBAC. That is my hope too when we decide to have our next child. I am passing along this post to my friends who are pregnant right now.

Congratulations Ali and all the Malterres. What lovely photos of sis/baby and mom/baby.
I wish you all the best.

I love your postings and your recipes. I know I can always find healthful ideas for breakfast, luch & dinner on your site. My kids actually made your Almond Energy Balls today! We love love them.
I wanted to say congratulations to you, your husband & family on your new baby girl, such a blessing.

I also wanted to add that years ago I breast fed my son till he was four. During that time I was pregnant with my daughter and tandum nursed after she was born. I really wish I had pulled the right foods out of my diet, but at the time I didn't know any better.
Thank you for keeping us all informed in healthful nutrition!

Congratulations to the whole family on your new little blessing. My DD had challenges in her digestion as a wee little one and I never even had a clue it could be my diet. She has now, at age 14, finally begun healing her digestive tract after 2 years of being gluten, dairy and egg free. If I could do it all over again, I would DEFINITELY had at the very least eliminated those three biggies from the very beginning. There is tons to eat that doesn't fall into those categories. Plenty for pregnant and nursing moms. Thank you for all your encouragement and knowledge that you pass down.

Congratulations! What a beautiful baby girl! I'm around 27 weeks, and the rice porridge already sounds appealing :)

Interestingly, dairy was the one thing I CRAVED through most of my first pregnancy (especially the last half), and our son didn't seem to have any major digestive issues. He wasn't the greatest sleeper, but I think that has more to do with his personality than anything!

I breastfed him till he was 2, and he would happily have kept on, but being pregnant I just couldn't keep up. Now, he must drink nearly a quart a day himself of milk--he LOVES it (and cheese, and yogurt...). Go figure.

I think the fact that we drink raw milk (not sure how receptive this forum is to that idea, but there it is), and so we've never seemed to have any problems with it. In fact, the rare times that we've run out and had to substitute regular pasteurized (organic) milk, our son actually developed an awful diaper rash--which he's rarely ever had!!

Anyway, thanks so much for the great ideas and the recipe--can't wait to try it!

Congrats again!

Congratulations! I was wondering if you have any resources or suggestions for sample meal plans. I have a 7 week old who definitely has some gas/fussy issues that are currently increasing. I am off of wheat/gluten, dairy and citrus (& was before baby came). I struggle a lot with eating enough to keep my weight up for nursing so I worry about getting enough food on a limited diet. And (as I am sure you can relate!), I have little or no time to cook with a fussy baby and three other little ones! Any suggestions or ideas?

She is absolutely beautiful! You all look so happy. I really, really, really wish I had known about this with Max.It could have saved us so much grief. We spent those three months with Max so uncomfortable. I just knew it had to do with his food, but I didn't know how to fix it. I wish I could do it over again. But it is valuable information for those who can use it. Thank you!


thanks Ali and congrats!

I am in my 1st trimester right now so this post will come in handy down the road. Have you thought of doing a post specifically on pregnancy nutrition and one for breastfeeding nutrition? I, myself, would love more ideas during this time.

Thanks again for all of your wonderful recipes! My husband has been cooking your chicken stew and biscuits lately for me. It seems like the only thing that stays down!

She looks beautiful and healthy Ali! I love her name too, gorgeous and long awaited! Hope to meet her soon :)

I also wanted to add that part of the reason our new baby is such a great sleeper at night is that she nurses all afternoon and evening! Cluster feeding this way provides babies with enough nourishment to get them through the night. Plus she sleeps right in between Tom and I on her belly (on a firm, chemical-free mattress) which helps her to sleep soundly. If she needs to nurse, and sometimes she does once or twice in a 12 hour night period, I hear her grunts and roll over and nurse then we both fall back asleep nursing.

She was 7 pounds 14 ounces at birth and by 2 weeks she had gained almost a pound. So she is still gaining weight and doing well even though she might not be feeding all night.

Thanks everyone! We are all enjoying our new little one, she is so sweet! :) Enjoy the rice cereal too.

Megan - thanks so much for your comment! I am a huge proponent of breastfeeding too! Every baby is very different and not all babies will be as sensitive to what the mom is eating while some are so very sensitive. And of course not all crying and fussing is related to food. New babies can easily get overstimulated from smells such as perfumes and air fresheners, loud noises like music and television, and can also react to a very stressed out mom. There are just some foods that usually cause so many issues in newborn babies that by omitting them from the diet you can create a much more peaceful beginning to life for all members of the family.

I have been through this newborn stage now four times. I instinctively omitted a lot from my diet when our first daughter was born. I just didn't know about cruciferous vegetables. At 4 days old, my daughter screamed for four hours straight after I ate a bowl of homemade creamy broccoli soup (dairy free made with cashew butter). A little fennel tea given to her finally relived the gas.

All of my girls have been easy, though my second daughter didn't sleep though the night like the other two did so early on. My twin boys were so fussy and unsettled from day one. I tried eliminating things from my diet but then I was so sleep deprived and so hungry that I would eat what I could to get through it all. The fussiness never stopped. I understood then why moms resorted to formula. I never did of course, instead I breastfed them on demand for over two years. But I get it. Once you get into that sleep deprived state, hungry all the time, and trying to deal with a fussy baby (or two) trying to do an elimination diet can seem all near impossible!

So I agree with you it is better to breastfeed than to give formula no matter what! Formula is so destructive to the gut and can cause a lifetime of health issues. I just think that if there was more education given to new moms that certain foods can cause baby to be upset before they deliver their babies that they might not give up so easily on breastfeeding and stick with it. I don't see eliminating foods as a barrier to breastfeeding but rather a door. Dairy, cruciferous veggies, onions, and garlic are the biggies. Just by getting those out of the diet moms might find the newborn stage and breastfeeding much more relaxing.

welcome sweet baby!! you sure did pick a cool mama :)

Congratulations on your beautiful baby girl. And thanks for the great recipes. I look forward to your new book.

Congrats Ali! I have needed to avoid corn, tree nuts and coconut also, but I know it is not forever and a new baby is such a sweet motivation to eat well :)

Congrats Ali!

Megan, I'm sure Ali wasn't suggesting that every mother must go on an elimination diet. Surely there are some babies with heartier digestive systems, but based on her audience, we are full of folks with food sensitivities and we are likely to produce sensitive babies as well, and to be mindful of that, (and, obviously, already willing to make dietary changes). Ali offers her expertise, and I think having this information would make me more confident in breastfeeding, knowing that nothing I'm doing is causing my little one any discomfort. I wonder if the low percentage of mothers that keep up with breastfeeding could have to do with baby discomfort? If you have to deal with a baby up all night crying, maybe you don't have the time and energy to breastfeed?

Of course, it is always a good reminder that breastfeeding is better, even if there is some fussing involved. Thanks!

Ali.. congratulations! Your rice porridge suggestion is great. Brown rice porridge is actually the first food I gave to our baby daughter, who turns a year on Tuesday. She loves it for breakfast every morning, though I now add in ground legumes, as well. I hadn't really thought about eating it for breakfast myself, but adding a little coconut sugar and almonds sounds so lovely. Enjoy your first couple months with your new daughter. They are always so precious.

Congratulations!! That is a big girl. I wish that I had the diet information when I was breastfeeding my now 21 and 18 year old daughters but am super grateful for your cookbook now!! I cook out of it multiple times a week.
Tom's mom, Marti, saved my parenting life with her classes. Now you and Tom are helping us live happily even with all of our food intolerences.

I mentally thank you every time I use your cookbook.
Jeni from Orcas Island

Where do you get those babies that sleep so well??

Eggplant! My DD had a horrible reaction every time I had eggplant. It is a nightshade too, so I should not have been surprised, but I wanted to throw it out there as another one that might cause issues.

Congratulations on the new addition to your beautiful family! And thanks for sharing such important and delicious information. I love your recipes.

I have such reservations about elimination diets for breastfeeding moms. In the US around 95% of women want to breastfeed and do start out breastfeeding but by 3 months only around 35% are still breastfeeding. That tells me that there are a lot of barriers including societal, iatrogenic, and self imposed. Adding in the idea that you must be on an elimination diet from the beginning creates an additional barrier.
The risks of formula feeding outweigh the possibility that your baby will have sensitive digestive system and thus be uncomfortable if you eat your normal diet while breastfeeding. Formula is much more destructive to the immature gut of an infant but many moms will choose it if they are told that should or must be on a strict diet.

Congratulations! She is beautiful!

Welcome, little Camille! She is so beautiful! Congratulations to your whole family. :)

I learned to love rice porridge when I was a teacher in China many years ago. It became a true comfort food for me! Right now, I am still sensitive to grains, and rice is one that causes me problems, but I hope one day to eat it again because I *love* rice porridge! I used to like to eat it with homemade Chinese food leftovers, too, even for breakfast. Ah! Just thinking about it makes me feel calm and peaceful.

You have wonderful suggestions for new moms and diet, too. I wish I had known more about the information you have in this post when I was nursing my kids. I understand a lot of infant problems can be solved via the mother's diet & breastmilk that is free of allergens/potential allergens. Thanks for addressing this topic!

Congratulations! I'm so happy you are all happy and healthy. It must have been so wonderful for you to give birth at home, especially after a C-section. I was a home birth baby back in the 80s, and I'm so proud of it.

Thanks you for the recipe. :)

Congratulations. She is beautiful

Congratulations. She is just beautiful in every picture. What a sweet, perfect little face. I'm going to forward your info on elimination diets to my daughter in law who is pregnant with their second baby. Our grandson had a lot of digestive problems, and this might help a great deal when the newest family member arrives. Loved the porridge recipe too. It looks and sounds wonderful, now that it's getting colder.

Congratulations on the arrival of your beautiful new baby girl! I am not a new mom but I know we will enjoy this lovely rice porridge as the weather cools.

aw that made me teary. what a sweet family you have. congratulations on that beautiful new baby. this is such great info for new moms!

What a great post, Ali! I'm going to share it immediately. :-) Camille Rose is beautiful and you are positively radiant in the photo holding her. I love the photo of your middle daughter holding her, too. Absolutely amazing and a testament to your family's appraoch that she has been sleeping through the night since she was a few days old!


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