In last week’s blog post, we wrote about Discovering the Benefits of Baby Led Weaning. This week we will speak about babies’ first foods. The doctor told me to start solids at 6 months, which is also the recommendation by the World Health Organization. At around 5 months, I noticed that my daughter was starting to pay attention to what I was eating, and she started grabbing for my food (she also started grabbing for my phone to put into her mouth!). And then, a week before she was six months, she started being able to sit up straight by herself and take things straight into her mouth. So I knew that she was almost ready for solids. He told me that I should start my daughter on rice cereal which seems normal because that is what most mother’s/parents are told when starting solid foods with their baby. After that, most parents get the recommendation to add in fruit purees, starchy veggies like squash, pureed mixtures of cooked meats, steamed veggies and then sweet snacks or juices. My mom, who is still only aware of the old guidelines of starting babies on solids at 3-4 months, has been more excited about my daughter starting solids than my daughter or me. She even bought her some rice cereal, even though I have told her that I didn’t want to feed her anything processed, but my mom is following the doctor’s recommendations. She also likes to point out that she provided me and my sibling’s rice cereals during infancy, and we turned out fine, well, most of us at least.
Rice Cereal is a NO!
If there is anything that our modern culture gets totally wrong, it’s how to feed babies and adequately introduce solid foods. For example, pediatricians readily recommend that rice cereal is the perfect first food for babies aged 4-6 months. However, suggesting rice cereal or grains is one of the most significant crimes against young infants made by pediatricians, food marketers and parents everywhere. This advice is entirely misguided, but it is also highly harmful to the child’s long-term health, contributing significantly to the epidemic of fat toddlers and the worrisome childhood obesity problem in general.
Rice cereals are not the healthy babies’ first foods. Traditional cultures didn’t (and don’t) feed their young babies infant cereal. After all, we’ve survived anywhere from 7,000 to 77,000 generations on this planet (depending on what you believe). So if we didn’t know how to adequately nourish our children all that time, how did we even get here?
Rice cereal is a highly high glycemic food (spikes blood sugar). Still, it also contains ample amounts of double sugar (disaccharide) molecules, which are extremely hard for such an immature digestive system to digest. The small intestine mainly produces only one carbohydrate enzyme, lactase, to digest the lactose in milk. It has little to no amylase, the enzyme needed for grain digestion. In fact, without enough amylase, these foods will sit and start to decompose in the gut, which may increase the likelihood of allergies to this particular food!
So what happens when a baby is given cereal their bodies can’t digest? Potential complications can stem from their inability to digest grains, such as:
- Upset stomach
- Food allergies
- Gut bacteria imbalance
- Behavioural problems
- Damaged intestinal lining
Healthy Babies First Foods
Egg yolks contain minerals, vitamins, and cholesterol. Cholesterol usually is attached to poor health. However, babies actually need cholesterol for significant mental development. To prepare, soft boils an egg (from pastured hens is best) and feed that to your little one. If the baby isn’t interested, don’t push it. Egg yolks are pretty rich, and they might not like it. You can always try giving it to them later. Avoid giving the egg whites until after a year old. They contain proteins that can be difficult to digest and may lead to the development of allergies.
You have a terrific first food for your baby if you make your own bone broth. Homemade bone broth contains minerals and calcium that are beneficial for your baby. The natural gelatin in bone broth is also great for the digestive system and can help protect against harmful intestinal bacteria.
Avocado has fats and cholesterol, all the good kind! The fats and cholesterol you hear avocado having are pretty good for your baby, whose developing brain needs plenty of fat. Many babies enjoy the taste and texture of avocados and will eat them plain.
Give your baby fruit, particularly bananas, which contain the enzyme amylase. It is better to introduce fruit after veggies. Otherwise, your baby might dislike the vegetables after the sweetness of the fruit (as my oldest did). You can also combine the fruit with veggies – sweet potatoes, blueberries, and applesauce is a great combination – if they’re already more fond of fruit.
Children usually like flavoured veggies; you can cook the veggies in the broth to give it a nice flavour. Other great veggies include sweet potatoes, squash, green beans, broccoli and potatoes. It is best to but it up into little pieces (stick size or chip shaped) or give them a spoon and bowl if the foods are mashed.
This is a yummy probiotic food that can help a baby properly digest foods by building up the proper balance of bacteria in their gut. Buy or make plain, whole milk yogurt and let them try it out. Starting off without any kind of sweetener (like smashed berries) can help them get used to tart flavours, which you’ll be grateful for later. Start off with just a spoonful and increase after they reach one year.
There are many different ways to start solids, and not everyone’s first foods will be the same, and there is no right or wrong because there are so many options. However, when starting solids, you should begin with nutrient-dense and non-starchy whole foods that have a low chance of causing an allergic response and let the baby be as independent as possible when eating.
But as previously mentioned, most babies aren’t really eating at this stage, so what is good to ensure they get all the iron they need? As mentioned earlier, I do not want to feed my daughter any store-bought foods, and I want them to be as natural and organic as possible. I have been able to find just that with the Childlife Multivitamin, which I will be supplementing her with.
I would love to know how your baby’s first foods journey is going, and pictures would be amazing! Let us know in the comments below how the experience has been so far and if you have any tips. Connect with us on Social Media to stay informed about more ways to Live Life Naturally, and make sure to comment below to share your thoughts with us!