Wheat For Babies: Right Age To Introduce And Precautions To Take

✔ Research-backed

While it is a staple for several families, parents may have questions regarding the use of wheat for babies. Wheat contains gluten, and gluten allergies are not uncommon. Therefore, many parents may consider delaying the introduction of wheat until the baby is eight to nine months old to prevent allergies. Read this post to know more about the benefits, the right age to introduce, nutritional value, possible side effects, and precautions to take while introducing wheat to your babies.

In This Article

Is Wheat Good For Babies?

Wheat makes a suitable solid food for babies. It is a leading source of starch, energy, and other essential nutrients, such as protein, B-vitamins, dietary fiber, and phytochemicalsiBioactive compounds found in plant-based foods that act as antioxidants and have antimicrobial effects  (1). It is beneficial to give them whole wheat flour and its products rather than refined wheat products.

However, you need to introduce it at the right age to avoid any unnecessary health issues.

What Is The Right Age To Introduce Wheat To Babies?

You can introduce wheat to babies around the age of six months when they are likely to consume other single-grain infant cereals. Parents might want to delay introducing wheat to prevent wheat allergy or celiac diseases. However, several research studies show that delaying allergenic foods beyond six months of age does not guarantee the prevention of allergy (2).

protip_icon Research finds
Delaying the introduction of potentially allergenic foods in babies may further increase the food allergy risk (13).

If you have a family history of wheat allergy or gluten intolerance, then consult a pediatric nutritionist.

Nutritional Value of Whole Wheat Flour

Whole wheat flour is a whole-grain product that has all the three parts of the grain (germ, bran, and endospermiFound in flowering plants, it is the tissue surrounding the seed and provides nutrients and protection to it ) intact. It also has a higher nutritional value than refined or processed wheat flour, making it a better choice for meeting the baby’s nutritional requirements.

Below is the nutritional composition of one cup of whole wheat flour against the current recommendations of nutrients for babies (3) (4).

NameAmountUnit
Water12.42g
Energy332Kcal
Protein9.61g
Carbohydrate, by difference74.48g
Fiber, total dietary13.1g
Calcium, Ca33mg210mg (0-6 months)
270mg (7-12 months)
Iron, Fe3.71mg6mg (0-6 months)
10mg (7-12 months)
Magnesium, Mg117mg30mg (0-6 months)
75mg (7-12 months)
Phosphorus, P323mg100mg (0-6 months)
275mg (7-12 months)
Potassium, K394mg500mg (0-6 months)
700mg (7-12 months)
Sodium, Na3mg120mg (0-6 months)
200mg (7-12 months)
Zinc, Zn2.96mg2mg AI (0-6 months)
3mg (7-12 months)
Manganese, Mn3.399mg
Selenium, Se12.7µg15µg (0-6 months)
20µg(7-12 months)
Thiamin0.297mg12µg
Riboflavin0.188mg1.7mg (0-6 months)
1.8mg (7-12 months)
Niacin5.347mg24µg (0-6 months)
32µg (0-12 months)
Pantothenic acid1.011mg125mg(AI) (0-6 months)
150 mg (7-12 months)
Folate, total28µg
Choline, total31.2mg

Sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture and World Health Organization

The diverse nutritional composition of wheat makes it one of the best foods to include in your baby’s diet. The use of wheat germ oil is also prevalent.

Possible Health Benefits of Wheat For Infants

Regular consumption of wheat and its products in recommended amounts could provide the following health benefits to the baby.

  1. Nutrients: Whole wheat is rich in dietary fiber, essential amino acids, micronutrients, minerals, and phytochemicals (5). Being nutrient-rich, and also containing adequate carbohydrates increases the satietyiThe feeling of fullness from a specific food value of whole wheat.
  1. Energy: 100 grams of wheat provides 332 kilocalories. High-energy grains such as wheat can help provide energy to babies for their rapid growth and development.
  1. Digestive health: Whole wheat is rich in dietary fiber, such as cellulose and hemicellulose. These insoluble fibers add bulk to the diet and regulate bowel movements, which could keep constipation at bay and enhance digestibility (6) (7).
  1. Gut health: Whole wheat contains insoluble fibers such as beta-glucan and short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) such as acetate. Both these components are potential prebioticsiCompounds that improve overall health by acting as food for the good bacteria present in the human gut  that help enhance the gut microbiotaiThe microorganisms present in the GI tract that aids in different body functions (8).
  1. Oral health: Wheat-based foods have thick granules that require chewing, which can be a good exercise for the jaw and gums. It can aid in the healthy development of the oral cavity.
Chewing wheat can benefit the development of the oral cavity

Image: Shutterstock

Wheat can support the healthy development of your baby, if you make it part of a balanced diet.

Possible Side-Effects Of Wheat For Babies

The following are the likely side effects of wheat for babies.

  1. Antinutrients: Whole wheat, like several other grains, consists of some antinutrients such as phytic acid. Antinutrients are nutritional compounds that interfere in the absorption of other nutrients and make them unavailable for use (9). Soaking and fermenting of wheat can reduce these antinutrients.
protip_icon Quick tip
Anecdotal evidence suggests that sprouted wheat bread and sourdough (fermented) bread may be good choices for babies.
  1. Irritable bowel syndrome: IBS is a metabolic condition in which the baby might experience recurrent abdominal pain, bloating, and disturbed bowel movements. Sensitivity to wheat could be one of the reasons for this (10). Pediatric consultation is a must to manage IBS.
  1. Wheat allergy: It is a condition in which an individual gets allergic to a certain protein found in wheat. General symptoms of wheat allergy are hivesiInflamed itchy skin rashes due to an allergic reaction to food or medication , skin rash, nausea, sneezing, and headache (11). Most wheat allergies resolve during early childhood.
Wheat allergy may sometimes result in a skin rash

Image: Shutterstock

  1. Celiac disease: According to the data presented by Celiac Disease Foundation, the incidence of celiac disease in children is 21.3 per 100,000 people per year, while it is 12.9 per 100,000 people per year in adults. The research over several decades has shown a harmonious increase in these rates, with an annual rise of 7.5% on average. This complex autoimmune diseaseiDiseases in which the body’s immune system mistakes healthy cells as foreign and attacks them occurs when the ingestion of gluten causes damage within the small intestine. It is prevalent in genetically predisposed individuals. Symptoms include vomiting, bloating, irritability, poor growth, diarrhea with very foul stools, malnutrition, and poor weight gain (12).

Babies with wheat allergy or celiac disease require complete elimination of wheat and wheat products from their diet.

Precautions To Take While Feeding Wheat To Babies

These precautions can help prevent any adverse effects of wheat consumption.

  1. Buy organic flour from a reputable store so that its quality could be assured.
  1. Start feeding wheat only once your baby has started eating single-grain solids such as rice and oats.
  1. As you begin feeding, follow a three to five-day wait rule to mark any signs of allergy or intolerance. If you notice any adverse effects, then discontinue feeding and consult a doctor.
  1. In the beginning, keep the quantity as small as one to two teaspoons. Once the baby gets comfortable, you may increase the quantity.
  1. Avoid using white flour or refined flour. Instead, prefer whole wheat flour that is rich in dietary fiber. High fiber food might be difficult to digest in the beginning. Therefore, make your baby drink enough water.
Avoid using refined flour, Wheat for babies

Image: IStock

  1. Do not leave wheat flour near your baby. Wheat flour, when accidentally inhaled, could disturb the nasal passage and enter the bloodstream directly. It could trigger the immune system, thus resulting in an allergy.

protip_icon Caution
Dry pieces of wheat bread or whole wheat kernels can be a choking hazard for babies..

While following these precautions, you may add a variety of wheat recipes to your baby’s weaning diet.

Ways To Include Wheat In Your Baby’s Diet

You can try these recipes and various others based on the age of the baby.

  1. As the baby starts weaning, you may introduce wheat through fortified wheat cereals, such as Cerelac
  1. You may also mix breast milk or formula milk in wheat-based cereals for infants. However, read the instructions given on the pack.
  1. Start with simple recipes like wheat porridge or mashed wheat mixed with dal (lentil) water or vegetable puree.
Try including wheat porridge in your baby's diet

Image: Shutterstock

  1. As the baby gets comfortable with the grain, you may try introducing other wheat preparations, such as broken wheat porridge, bread, pasta, pancakes, and crackers.

Below are a couple of simple wheat recipes that you may try for your infant.

Wheat Recipes For Babies

These recipes are easy to prepare and provide nutrition to your little one.

1. Wheat porridge

Wheat porridge for babies

Image:
Shutterstock

This recipe is ideal for infant nutrition and can be given to babies who have just started eating solid foods. Along with wheat, this homemade baby food also contains yellow gram and almond powder. You can customize this recipe as per your baby’s preferences.

You will need:

  • 2tbsp wheat flour
  • 1tsp yellow gram powder
  • 1tsp almond powder
  • 1tbsp powdered jaggery
  • 1 cup water

How to:

  1. Take the wheat flour, moong dal, and almonds in a thick bottom pan.
  1. Place the pan over medium heat and dry roast all these ingredients for five minutes. Continue roasting until the color of the ingredients changes to light brown.
  1. Let the ingredients cool and then transfer to a blender. Blend until it turns into a smooth powder.
  1. Sieve the powder to remove any chunks. Keep it in an airtight container and store the container in the fridge.
  1. To make porridge, add ½ cup of water and powdered jaggery to a vessel and boil until the jaggery melts. Filter the jaggery water through a strainer into a saucepan.
  1. Add the ingredient mix to the saucepan and mix everything slowly with a whisk. Make sure there are no lumps.
  1. Place the saucepan on a medium flame. Stir and cook until the porridge reaches the desired thickness.
  1. Serve while still warm to your baby. You can try adding pureed fruit or mashed fruits like apple, banana, and papaya to this porridge.

A mom of six shares her recipe for cream of wheat. She uses one cup of whole wheat flour and a little salt, whisked into five cups of water in a pot. The mixture is heated until it thickens (about five to ten minutes). She says, “This ‘cereal’ was most of my children’s first ‘baby food cereal.’ Does this taste exactly like boxed? No. It’s the whole grain, and the boxed isn’t. Cheaper? Much! It is about the same consistency as boxed, perhaps a little finer with the flour, and personally, I like it with coarse ground wheat to where it’s closer to a grit. You can use milk or cream instead of part of your water in the recipe to make it more true to its name, or even top it with a drizzle of heavy cream. You can sweeten simply with sugar or top with spices, fruits, etc- or my favorite is butter and honey. (i).”

2. Broken wheat porridge (Dhaliya)

Broken wheat porridge (Dhaliya) for babies

Image: Shutterstock

Once your baby is comfortable with wheat porridge, you may try feeding broken wheat porridge or dhaliya that is slightly granular. Since this homemade baby cereal recipe contains cow milk, it is suited for babies older than 12 months.

You will need:

  • 2tbsp broken Wheat
  • 1tsp dried fruit powder
  • 1tbsp jaggery powder
  • 2 cup water
  • 1 cup cow’s milk (whole)

How to:

  1. Boil cow’s milk and keep it aside. If your baby has a milk allergy or lactose intolerance, then you may skip the milk.
  1. Take two tablespoons of broken wheat in a pressure cooker with 3/4 cup of water and pressure cook it for three whistles.
  1. Add one-third cup of water to a pan and add to it the powdered jaggery. Boil the mixture until the jaggery melts completely. Filter the mixture using a strainer and set it aside.
  1. Take a pan and pour pressure cooked broken wheat, dried fruit powder, boiled milk, half cup water, and jaggery water into the pan.
  1. Put the pan on medium heat and cook the mixture while stirring constantly.
  1. Once you see the milk getting thick, lower the flame and cook with the lid closed for two to three minutes.
  1. Switch off the flame once broken wheat softens, and the porridge consistency is smooth. You may adjust the consistency as per your baby’s preference.
  1. Serve it to your baby while still warm.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is wheat better than oats?

Both wheat and oats are nutrient-dense and have nutrients essential for your baby’s health (14). Oats have an advantage over wheat as they can be eaten as whole-grain cereal. They are also gluten-free, making them a safe option for gluten-intolerant babies or babies with celiac disease. However, wheat has higher protein levels than oats (15). Hence, it cannot be said that wheat is better than oats as both are good for your baby.

2. Which wheat is best for babies?

Whole wheat is best for babies as it contains the essential nutrients, along with fiber, for your baby’s growth (5). Therefore, you can use whole wheat flour instead of refined flour.

3. How will I know if my baby is allergic to wheat?

Your baby will show several symptoms if they are allergic to wheat. Some common symptoms include hives with itching or swelling, coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, or shortness of breath; vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, and cramps, which may lead to diarrhea; nasal congestion or itching; and headache. In some cases, your baby may get life-threatening anaphylaxis. The symptoms of anaphylaxis include severe difficulty in breathing, swelling of the throat, difficulty swallowing, fainting or dizziness, and skin turning pale blue (16).

Wheat is an energy-dense cereal grain suitable for your baby’s first diet unless they have a gluten intolerance. While six months is the recommended age to introduce wheat to babies, you may want to wait until eight to nine months to avoid developing a wheat allergy or celiac disease in your baby. Moreover, it is advisable to use whole wheat over processed alternatives so that your baby obtains the appropriate nutritional fiber recommended for their age. You may introduce wheat through fortified wheat cereals, adding it to formula or breast milk, or you can try some simple wheat recipes.

Infographic: Precautions To Take While Feeding Wheat To Babies

If your baby is six months or older, they may have wheat as part of their solid food diet. But because babies’ metabolism and immune system are in the development stage, you should exercise caution when giving food. So check out this infographic highlighting the precautionary steps to take while feeding wheat to your baby.

precautions to take while feeding wheat to babies (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • Wheat is a healthy solid food option for infants, providing starch, energy, protein, fiber, phytochemicals, and B vitamins.
  • It can be introduced to infants at six months of age when they are more likely to eat other single-grain cereals.
  • Wheat may offer potential health benefits such as improved energy, digestion, gut and mouth health, and increased nutritional intake for infants.
  • However, adverse effects of wheat include Celiac disease, wheat allergy, and irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Precautions to follow while feeding wheat to infants are avoiding overconsumption and consulting with a pediatrician if there is a family history of allergy or intolerance.
wheat for babies_illustration

Image: Stable Diffusion/MomJunction Design Team


Unveil the recipe for a nutritious wheat apple porridge perfect for 6-month+ babies. Nurture healthy weight gain and tantalize tiny taste buds with this delectable meal showcased in the video.

Personal Experience: Source

References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

1. Peter R. Shewry and Sandra J. He; The contribution of wheat to human diet and health; National Center For Biotechnology Information
2. When should I introduce wheat into my baby’s diet?; Healthy Children; American Academy of Pediatrics
3. Wheat flour, whole-grain, soft wheat; Food Data Central; USDA
4. Feeding and nutrition of infants and young children; WHO
5. Shewry PR; Wheat..; National Center For Biotechnology Information
6. Chen HL et al.; Mechanisms by which wheat bran and oat bran increase stool weight in humans; National Center For Biotechnology Information
7. DavidTopping;Cereal complex carbohydrates and their contribution to human health; Science Direct
8. Danielle N. Cooper et al.; Does Whole Grain Consumption Alter Gut Microbiota and Satiety?; National Center For Biotechnology Information
9. Are anti-nutrients harmful?; Harvard T.H Chan
10. Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Children; NIH; US Department of Health and Human Services
11.Wheat Allergy; American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
12. Celiac Disease in Children; Celiac Disease Foundation
13. Reducing the Risk of Food Allergies; Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
14. Oats; Harvard T.H Chan
15. Nutritional advantages of oats and opportunities for its processing as value added foods – a review; National Library of Medicine
16. Wheat Allergy; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Was this article helpful?
Like buttonDislike button
The following two tabs change content below.
Cari Riker

Cari RikerRDN, LDN, CDE

Cari Riker practices Nutritional Medicine in Nashville, TN. Having grown up in a family that has a love for food, dietetics was a natural choice for Cari. With more than ten years of experience, Cari advises people on matters of food and nutrition, considering how they both impact health. She provides a holistic approach to healing with special focus on...read full bio