Most parents with a newborn (whether it’s their first one or not), are often too tired, too busy, too something to really even think about what they are going to feed their baby once they get old enough. Cheerios, processed baby “puffs,” and pre-made jars of processed fruits and vegetables have become the norm of what baby food is supposed to be.
What most people don’t know is the science behind the digestive system of a baby and how the current mainstream recommendations don’t take that into consideration when promoting baby foods and nutrition.
Babies are not born with a digestive system that can handle just any kind of food. Even when they have teeth that does not mean it’s a green light to feed them whatever you want just because they can chew it up. Babies have limited enzyme production, which is essential to the digestion of foods. Babies are born well-equipped to handle the digestion of fats and proteins from mother’s milk, because their digestive system is producing pepsin, proteolytic enzymes, and digestive juices that help break these foods down properly.
The major enzymes needed to break down grains doesn’t fully develop until well after a child has turned two years old and developed all their molars. Unfortunately, some of the first foods parents introduce to their babies are iron-fortified rice cereal and oatmeal, but babies don’t have the proper digestive tools to break down those foods.
This can lead to undigested food particles entering the bloodstream and causing leaky gut issues as well as the beginning of food sensitivities and food allergies. It also can wreak havoc on the baby’s digestive system, leading to gas, painful bowel movements, constipation, and a reduction of healthy gut flora needed to maintain a healthy immune system.
Since babies naturally already have the capability to digest fats and proteins that are in mother’s milk, some good first foods include: scrambled egg yolks (leave out the whites for now as they are typically what cause the allergic reactions to egg), quality cod liver oil, pureed pasture-raised beef liver, and pureed pasture-raised meats. These foods provide not only the calories needed for a growing child, but also all the fats and proteins necessary for brain development and building of cells. Proteins and fats also provide more satiety for babies, making them feel fuller longer (and less likely to wake you up in the middle of the night because they’re hungry).
The markets for baby foods and nutrition are not any different than for adults. It’s all backed by greed and poorly constructed scientific data taken out of context to fit the market’s beliefs. Finding a good resource to give you the right information about raising a healthy baby can be difficult in this day and age, because we are inundated with information that seems factual and true just because it was published online, in a book, or seen on TV.
My training as a nutritional therapy practitioner is based off the teachings of Dr. Weston A. Price and Dr. Francis Pottenger. Properly prepared nutrient-dense diets from whole foods help to support digestion, blood sugar regulation, mineral balance, hydration, and fatty acid balance for optimal health.
The Weston A. Price Foundation website is loaded with articles, information, and resources taken from solid scientific data and written by holistic nutrition experts that believe a whole foods diet is the key to a healthy life and preventing disease. The article “Nourishing a Growing Baby” from the website is a fantastic resource for new and soon-to-be moms and dads looking to research what to feed their babies, when, how, and why. This is the first resource I point clients and friends and family members towards when they are interested in proper nutrition for their baby.
There are some great books out there about raising your baby healthy, but one I’ve come across that aligns with the nutrition principles I’ve already listed is The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care by Sally Fallon Morell. The author is the co-founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation and a leader in the field of holistic nutrition advocacy. She covers everything from prenatal, pregnancy, and postpartum nutrition to vaccinations to nutrition for babies and children to natural remedies for infectious diseases and disorders.
As always, it’s important that you do your own research to determine the credibility of information you find. Consider who the author is, what they are promoting, who they work for and are associated with, and whether or not the information is backed by solid scientific data that is not taken out of context.
Never feel shame or guilt for making decisions that others may see as wrong or unfit. We are all trying to make it in this world, and the way we learn is through trial and error. No mother or father is perfect. As long as you attempt to make decisions for yourself and your family out of love, positivity, and goodwill then you will do just fine!
If you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, breastfeeding, or simply looking to get yourself and/or your family eating better, contact me for nutrition consultations. I offer services to clients who are near or far!