Yesterday I posted about the ridiculous food items that society has considered healthy for babies and toddlers. Today I wanted to write something about what I feed Andrew and what I’ve learned throughout this journey being a new parent.
Being a new parent is difficult, period. It’s especially when you are constantly mislead by people who you are supposed to trust when it comes to the health of your child. If you don’t really question the status quo than I guess that aspect is not so difficult. It’s easy to not question what recommendations your pediatrician has for your child. After all, their job is to give you advice and guidance on what the best choices are to ensure your child grows up living a healthy life. That’s what they are supposed to be there for.
Unfortunately it seems like most pediatricians (and doctors) don’t really give you the best advice out there. Take for instance infant rice cereal. At our 3 month appointment our doctor told Scott and I that we could start feeding Andrew infant rice cereal when he turns about 4 months old. Because she was our doctor we took her advice without even questioning it. At this point in our lives we were living the “normal” American life. A few months later a friend of the family shot over an email that talked about why we shouldn’t feed our babies that infamous rice cereal. Curious got the best of me so I read it and I was shocked! I learned that it was not a traditional food given to babies and that babies couldn’t digest it.
Babies can’t digest grains because they produce little to none of a particular enzyme called amylase. Amylase allows the gut to split starches making them more digestible. Some babies begin producing amylase after one years old but even some don’t until they are two! So what happens if the baby can’t digest the grains? Well, it rots in their gut. Yes, you heard me correctly, rots. While it’s rotting in their gut (and throwing off all the balanced bacteria) it’s possibly leading them to a bunch of health problems like eczema, allergies, asthma and a bunch of other autoimmune diseases. Pretty scary don’t you think? So why do doctors recommend that as the first food? Well because babies tend to take to it pretty quickly- it’s a high glycemic food so it spikes their blood sugar leading to a sort of high. It also fills them up very quickly leading to longer sleep. To read more about why you shouldn’t feed your baby infant cereals click here and here.
So now the question is, what do you feed your baby?
Once I read that article, I completely changed the way I fed Andrew. I learned babies needed the right fats and protein to sustain a healthy growing baby. I made sure to buy fresh, organic vegetables and did my research to find raw butter. I would puree the veggies and add melted raw butter to the mix. Why raw butter you ask? Healthy fats like butter enables the body to absorb the essential minerals and vitamins tremendously! Keep in mind the butter must be raw from a grass fed cow. I do want to point out this goes for adults too- adding a healthy fat like butter or coconut oil helps the absorption and digestion process two fold.
Veggies I bought (and still buy) for Andrew are carrots, summer squash, turnips, butternut squash, green beans, peas. Broccoli can make babies (or anyone in fact) a little gassy so I decided to wait on this veggie until he was about 10 months. I puree these veggies in a homemade chicken stock that I make. I do this because the chicken stock provides an enormous amount of health benefits! Ever heard chicken soup is good for the soul? Just remember, the chicken needs to be pastured and (if you can find one) fed a soy free diet.
I also feed Andrew a soft boiled egg yolk from a pastured hen. I know it sounds a little nerve wracking at first but you have to learn to trust the wisdom from traditional cultures that have been using these methods for hundreds of years. The most important thing is to make sure the egg is from a pastured hen! Do not give your baby a soft egg yolk from a commercial hen. Egg yolks contain a lot of omega 3 fats and natural cholesterol which is essential for mental development. Also make sure to not feed your baby the egg whites until a year old because they are hard to digest. You can start feeding your baby as soon as they become interested in food. Keep in mind, egg yolks are a very rich, nutrient dense food so if you force your child to eat too much they can vomit it back up. A little bit at a time is a wonderful approach to this method. By the way, Andrew loves egg yolk!
Bananas are great for babies too! Especially at a young age because they contain a lot of amylase which makes it easy for babies to digest without having to put their little bodies through too much work. I probably give Andrew bananas the most out of any other fruit. I myself try to stay away from feeding him a lot of fruit because of the sweetness. If I give Andrew fruit, I give it to him after his normal meal. I don’t want him to automatically choose the sweets before the stuff that is essential to health. I also mix my fruits with yogurt so it breaks down the sweetness a little and because of the probiotics in yogurt, it helps with the digestion of his food.
Now that Andrew is a year old he eats pretty much every thing we eat. I try not to make anything at home that I wouldn’t want him to eat or that he can’t eat. I stick to fresh vegetables, pastured meats and sometimes fruits. On a typical day for breakfast he’ll get some yogurt with banana. At lunch sometimes I will make scrambled eggs or reheat (in the oven or pan, NOT microwave) last night’s left overs. I give him raw cheese, smoked salmon, avocado, tomatoes, sweet potatoes. Sometimes I have to be creative but never do I turn to teething biscuits, organic baby puffs, goldfish, bread.. and whatever other unhealthy things there are out there. For dinner, he eats what we eat. Now he can feed himself pretty well so I cut things in small bite size chunks and let him do he thing. And actually, sometimes if I try to spoon feed him something, he bats it away and wants to eat it on his own. This is a good thing and much easier for momma! I lightly season his foods with unrefined sea salt and natural spices that have not been irradiated.
I also want to point out that I have never and do not plan to ever give Andrew any type of fruit drink- diluted or not. Fruit drinks are full of sugars and are pasteurized so any of the vitamins and minerals that he may get, are completely heated away. Therefore, they are NOT good to give to babies or children… or even adults at that matter. Andrew only gets filtered water and raw milk.
What about on the go? In actuality babies don’t really need to snack. I’ve learned its not okay to keep children busy by giving them food because it can lead to uncontrolled eating. If it’s absolutely necessary try to plan ahead and bring a banana or something that is healthy. I have found some freeze dried organic fruits that I have just in case I need to use them.
Babies need to have a diet full of good tasting, natural foods. Not processed, refined, sugar filled empty foods. Having a diet rich in nutrient dense foods will set them up for a successful, healthy life (especially when they come to the point where they can make their own food choices). You don’t want your child to grow up craving fast food and sweets.
The last thing I want to say is to keep trying! It took Andrew almost what seemed like 15 tries before he liked avocado. I’m always introducing Andrew to new foods so his palate is filled with different tastes and textures.
Until next time,
Loriel – Healthy Roots, Happy Soul