The health benefits of rice water or 'am' for babies
Back in the day, moms traditionally give rice water or 'am' to their babies in order to supplement their nutrition. Here are some of the benefits of am.
What is rice water?
If you ask your parents or your grandparents, chances are, they're very familiar with the benefits of rice water or 'am' as it's commonly known in the Philippines.
Rice water is made by taking the water that comes from soaking rice in water. You just need to wash the rice to remove any impurities, add some water, and then let it sit for 15-20 minutes. The resulting liquid is now rice water.
In recent years, however, with the popularity of breastfeeding and formula milk, fewer moms are feeding am to their kids. However, it can be a good idea to use it as a supplement to your child's regular feedings after exclusive breastmilk or formula feeding for 6 months.
Here are some of its benefits:
- It's good for treating diarrhea. If your little one has diarrhea or gastrointestinal problems, then it's a good idea to give them rice water to help ease their stomach. Rice water can treat mild gastroenteritis, and also lower the stool production of babies. So supplementing your child's medicine with rice water is a good idea.
- It helps cure eczema. Eczema, a form of dermatitis, can be cured by using rice water. Just mix 2 cups of rice water in your baby's bath water, and the rice water should help moisturize their skin and help reduce the patches of itchy red skin that's caused by eczema.
- It can lower your baby's fever. If your child has a fever, rice water can also help lower bring their fever down.
- It's a good source of energy and carbohydrates. Rice water is a good supplement to your infant's feedings as it contains a high number of carbohydrates, and it's also easy for your little one to digest, so you don't have to worry about allergies or an upset tummy.
Breastmilk is still best for babies
It's important to note that rice water shouldn't be used as a substitute for breastmilk.
According to the WHO, mothers should exclusively breastfeed their children for at least 6 months, starting from the first hour of life, so that newborns can receive the best nutrition for their growth and development.
Without a doubt, breastmilk is still the best for babies, as it contains all of the nutrition that babies need for their development. Meanwhile, as there are mothers who are not able to breastfeed, the health agency advises exclusive formula milk feeding.
Therefore, it is highly noted that rice water or "am" should not be used as an alternative for breastmilk, or formula milk. The Department of Health (DOH) is reminding mothers not to give their babies rice water—as a substitute because it does not contain enough nutrients and minerals a growing baby needs. It lacks sodium as well as potassium, which are both very important minerals for your baby's development.
Rice water should only supplement your baby's diet, and only from 6 months onward.