When thinking through how you’ll begin feeding your baby, you may want to take a look at which produce is the “dirtiest.” The EWG has an excellent list of items ranging from the dirtiest to the cleanest. (If you’re unfamiliar with why organic is often super important, you may want to read my recent post documenting how our food has become a literal science experiment of nastiness!)
Once I knew what was in our food, I just couldn’t see how putting that into their bodies made any sense: chemicals, viruses, unknown DNA strands? Yeah, this is a recipe for disaster. A recipe spelling: ADHD, asthma, allergies, organ damage, autism, sterility, etc.
Of course, I can’t control everything about my children and certainly not every particle of their food, unless I grew it myself. So I simply did the best I could in making choices today that will affect their tomorrows. And I trust God to give me both wisdom and help me to walk in peace for decisions like these.
So there’s kinda a lot of food out there – what should I start with?
Glad you asked! Actually, I do hear this question a lot. There are so many contradicting voices, blogs, moms and books, aren’t there? Here is some of what I have learned:
Pass on the Grains
Many pediatricians recommend rice cereal or some other type of grain. But recent research has been shown that this is not necessarily the way to go. Babies actually don’t have the ability to digest grains until after they turn two!
I know, right? I was shocked. I thought everybody fed their baby SOME type of cereal from the get-go. And baby formulas are chock-full of grains. The Weston A. Price Foundation (which I looooove!) explains why this shouldn’t be the case:
Babies have limited enzyme production, which is necessary for the digestion of foods. In fact, it takes up to 28 months, just around the time when molar teeth are fully developed, for the big-gun carbohydrate enzymes (namely amylase) to fully kick into gear. Foods like cereals, grains and breads are very challenging for little ones to digest. Thus, these foods should be some of the last to be introduced. (One carbohydrate enzyme a baby’s small intestine does produce is lactase, for the digestion of lactose in milk.)
Foods introduced too early can cause digestive troubles and increase the likelihood of allergies (particularly to those foods introduced). The baby’s immature digestive system allows large particles of food to be absorbed. If these particles reach the bloodstream, the immune system mounts a response that leads to an allergic reaction.
Can anyone say gluten-intolerant? Yup. This is often the result of feeding grains so early, albeit years down the road.
My babies got small amounts of formula during the months I was working to bring my supply up to breastfeed all three of them. And I’ve spent the past year protecting them from having to work overtime to digest something with which they don’t know what to do. And you know what? I don’t miss it! No need for goldfish crackers, Cheerios or toast! There are plenty of whole, real food options to feed babies, instead! Eventually I’ll start them on sprouted grains, but…that’s a topic for another time. =) Suffice it to say, grains are not only not necessary as first foods – they can be very harmful for babies!
The Chicken or the Egg
The most allergenic properties lie in the egg white. However, it is very, very, very beneficial for babies to eat egg yolks. If your family has a history of egg allergies, it would be wise to hold off till at least a year in giving your baby the complete egg.
The recent dismissal of eggs as a super-food due to high cholesterol levels is easily explained away: cholesterol is vital for babies’ development. Seriously. Studies also show that babies who eat egg yolks also have higher levels of iron! So there should be no need for nasty, hard-to-digest and bottled iron supplements
But, please consider farm-fresh, pasture-raised eggs over store-bought eggs. The difference is really quite massive. Eggs from the store are laid by hormone-shocked, grain-fed chickens who spend all day in a tiny crate laying more eggs per day than they were intended to. Sounds yummy, right? Eat up, baby!
The Better Butter
Our generation has been brain-washed to think that fats are bad. Well, this is partly true. The processed fats we typically consume on an, sometimes, hourly basis are bad. True. But there are several good fats that serve many purposes in a baby’s growth and development.
Coconut oil is one of these. It is personally my favorite because of its versatility (lotion, toothpaste ingredient, cooking oil, conditioner, etc.). It also is high in good fats and is a stable saturated fat. It is recommended to give small amounts to smaller babies to help them gain weight. And it helps with digestion, as well. If your baby is on formula it can be especially helpful. Add a ½ tsp of coconut oil to the bottle and you should soon see constipation disappear!
Spice of Life
Salt is good for babies.
No, really! However, don’t reach for the salt shaker on the table to season your baby’s food. Most likely you and I grew up similarly – eating chemically processed and super-refined salt. And this is where it gets a bad rap. There are virtually no health benefits from this kind of salt. The unrefined salt, though, provides our babies with much needed nutrients for brain development.
If it still makes you nervous to salt your baby’s egg yolk, stick with me and I’ll show you how. =)
And as far as other spices and seasonings? Go for it! As long as there’s no MSG or other fake ingredients, sprinkle away! My babies got a whopping amount of hot and spicy foods while I was pregnant and nursing – why stop when they are the ones eating the food? Herbs? Yes, please! A little cayenne? Why not?
Out with the Old
If it seems like everything you are reading here is new, it really isn’t. A generation or two ago, this was just a way of life! There were no baby cereals or Cheerios or mini hotdogs (gag) on shelves in the General Store. There was only real food. The kind we really do want to feed our babies – if we think about it.
Next week I’ll be discussing how I got the babies started and with which foods. Oh, and I’ll share how I skipped past having picky eaters!