Your baby is growing, and it’s time to start thinking of introducing food. How exciting! But where to begin? There is so much information out there. My advise is to keep it simple. Here’s a quick list of 5 of the best first foods to give to your precious baby. (and it’s NOT cereal!)
How many of you were told to start you baby on cereal as a first food? How many of you have been advised to give just a little cereal at bedtime to your baby to make her sleep better? I’m guessing this is a large percent of you. But did you know that small babies do not have the ability to digest grains at an early age?
WHY GRAINS ARE NOT GOOD FOR BABY
The first reason to avoid grains as a first food is an enzyme called amylase. Amylase is responsible for breaking down starches. Babies do not make enough amylase to digest grains until closer to a year in age, sometimes longer. Baby does produce small amounts of salivary amylase around 6 months, but the production of pancreatic amylase is not significant enough to break down grains until molars are developed, usually between 13-19 months. (source)
This is a concern because undigested foods in the digestive tract can cause not only digestive upset, but can upset the delicate ecosystem of gut bacteria. We are learning more and more every day how important healthy gut flora is and how many food allergies and chronic diseases are now being linked to imbalances in gut flora.
The second reason to avoid baby cereal as a first food is that is a highly processed food with a high glycemic index (raises blood sugar quickly.) This type of food is just a refined carbohydrate that is void of any nutritional value. There are studies that suggest that the introduction of grain cereal may lead to an increase risk for diabetes.
WHEN TO START SOLID FOODS
There is lots of conflicting advise on when to introduce solids. Remember that breast milk is the perfect food for baby, giving your little one everything she needs to thrive and grow. Breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 month (or more) is a precious gift you can give and an investment in a healthy future. Breast fed babies have been shown to stronger teeth, less childhood obesity, less heart disease, less diabetes, less allergies, less ear infections, less incidence of asthma and less incidence of digestive diseases. (source) There is no substitute for this amazing food that is completely bioavailable, easily digestible, and changes along with baby to suit her needs.
Every baby is unique and different, and the timing for starting solids should be assessed individually. Some signs that your baby may be ready to eat food:
- show an interest in the food you are eating
- can sit alone in an upright position
- opens her mouth when food is offered
- has lost her tongue-thrust reflex
- can lean back or turn away when she has had enough
- can reach out, grasp, and bring hands up to her mouth
- may have teeth
The key things to remember are that baby needs fats and proteins, not carbohydrates. Baby needs lots of fats to grow her brain, nervous system, and cell membranes. Feeding baby only nutrient-dense foods will give her body exactly what it needs. Remember that REAL food grows healthy babies.
Also remember that little ones are more vulnerable to the exposure to toxins and pesticides. Their little bodies are small and developing. Choose organic foods as much as possible.
5 BEST FIRST FOODS FOR BABY
#1 Egg Yolk
Egg yolk is the perfect first food. Egg yolks from pastured chickens contain the special long-chain fatty acids and essential nutrients so critical for the optimal development of your child’s brain and nervous system. Nourishing Traditions recommend that you begin supplementing your baby with an egg yolk per day as soon as they are able to eat. You can start by lightly boiling an egg, separating the egg yolk, and mashing with a bit of breast milk. You can move to scrambled yolks in healthy fats as baby tolerates.
NOTE: Egg whites may cause an allergic reaction so they’re best avoided until your child is at least 1 year old.
The wonderful things about bananas is that they are rich in amylase. This means that your baby will easily digest this them easily. Bananas make a wonderful first food because of their delicious taste and soft texture. Bananas are a good to introduce anytime after the first 6 months.
#3 Organic Liver
Yes, you read it right. Raw liver from grass fed and pastured sources is an amazing first food to introduce to little one. It is high in vitamin A, which is crucial for overall development. After the first 6 month, you can grate a small amount of frozen liver onto baby’s egg yolk. Freeze liver for at least 14 days to destroy any harmful pathogens.
#4 Bone Broth
This may seem like a strange concept to some, but real homemade bone broth is a healing elixir that is deeply nourishing to baby. It is loaded with gelatin, minerals, and glycosaminoglycans that will help your little one’s gut, bones, teeth, hair, nails, and joints all develop and grow. Read more HERE about the health benefits of bone broth. See a simple recipe HERE. You can give baby warmed bone broth with a spoon or in a sippy cup.
NOTE: Store-bought broths will not have the same nutritional and healing properties as homemade broths. We recommend using bones from grass fed and pastured animals.
#5 Pureed Vegetables and Meats
As baby become accustomed to eating more foods, you can begin to introduce pureed vegetables and meats. Good vegetables to start with are zucchinis, carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash. Remember to add a titch of good quality fat like tallow, lard, duck fat, grass fed butter,grass fed ghee, or coconut oil as many of the vitamins in vegetables are fat-soluble and require fat to be assimilated. Read more HERE about healthy fats to use.
Pureed meats will also supply baby with protein and nutrients (like zinc and iron) necessary for healthy development. Be sure to properly puree to avoid choking. And as always, good quality grass fed and pastured meats are best.
Want to learn more?
Here are some of my favorite resources when it comes to feeding baby real foods:
- Super Nutrition for Babies: The Right Way to Feed Your Baby for Optimal Health by Katherine Erlick and Kelly Genzlinger
- Nourished Baby by Heather Dessinger
- The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care by Sally Fallon Morell
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What were some of the first foods that you fed your baby?
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