An Unconventional, Yet Ancient Approach to Starting Babies on Solid Food
Looking for an alternative approach to introducing solid foods to babies that is based on nutrition from REAL food, digestive physiology and intuitive wisdom of the ancients?
Given that our grandmothers lived much closer to the natural course of the rhythms of life, they were likely more in tune with nature`s plan for feeding babies than we are. It seems reasonable and responsible not to stray too far from the path they have paved.
Additionally, we would do well to call into question the modern prevailing dogma that babies first introduction to solid foods should be iron fortified and processed rice cereal- which seems just a little ridiculous from the perspective of the “nature of things“.
We must reconsider the way we commonly introduce food to our babies to optimize their digestion, encourage a strong constitution (basis of health) and to prevent the likelihood of allergies and food sensitivities.
It is best to introduce 1 new food (traditionally prepared) every 5 days to ensure that baby is digesting that particular food well. Begin as early as 4-6 months if baby is formula fed or as late as 9-12 months or so, if baby is exclusively breastfed.
I came up with the following acronym to help share traditional food wisdom for feeding babies. I especially think it is relevant because people LOVE sharing food with babies. The mood with which we feed our babes is as important as the quality of food, so let’s have a FUN TIME feeding them!
F-Feed them Fat
U-“Unrestrict“ the Unrefined Salt
I-Intuitive Wisdom of Our Ancestors
M-Meat and Bone Broths
E-Easily Digestible Foods
1) FEED THEM FAT: Saturated fats such as grassfed butter and coconut oil for the optimal growth of your child, to optimize immunity, build a strong nervous system, seal the gut lining and to enable optimal mineral absorption.
2) “UNRESTRICT“ THE UNREFINED SALT: Include a TINY pinch of unrefined salt (with all minerals provided in their natural ratios, to increase the secretion of digestive juices and nutrient assimilation). DO NOT FEED BABY`S TABLE SALT or other foods containing refined salts or the white salts that health food stores mistakenly sell as sea salt- these are even according to conventional advice considered to be dangerous for babies.
3) NUTRIENT DENSE Real Foods-such as stewed whole fruits, baked vegetables, soaked nuts and seeds, butter, ghee, homemade stock, organ meats and egg yolk.
4) TRADITIONALLY PREPARED Food Prep Methods (soaking, sprouting, sourdough leavening, cooking, blend or puree) to reduce strain on the baby’s immature digestive system by deactivating anti nutrients like phytic acid.
5) INTUITIVE FOOD WISDOM OF OUR ANCESTORS- Fermented vegetables and the juice of fermented vegetables, liver and organ meats, pastured fed meat and raw or fermented dairy such as yogurt and milk kefir, chicken stock and fermented Cod Liver Oil should all be on the menu to ensure that the small amounts of food that our babies do eat, are nutrient dense foods including the fat soluble vitamins, Vit.A and Vit.D (especially in northern climates and since babies and young children cannot convert beta carotene into Vitamin A).
6) MEAT BROTHS and Meat -Feed babies food that is in line with the natural maturation of their digestive enzyme system (babies have the enzymes to digest protein and fat long before they produce the pytalin needed to digest starches). Meat, meat broths and bone broths are a highly digestible form of nutrition.
7) EASY TO DIGEST- Emphasize the most easily digested plant foods first such as fruit and less starchy vegetables (cooked and pureed with plenty of butter or coconut oil and a pinch of salt). Next add properly prepared legumes and then non glutenous grains all soaked overnight and preferably, later cooked in meat stock. In addition, crispy nuts and seeds soaked to eliminate phytic acid and then dehydrated later, are a nutritious and delicious finger food! Last to be introduced (around the age of 2 or later when the molars are fully developed and pancreatic amylase is produced in appreciable amounts) are the glutenous grains (paying special attention to soaking and sprouting and sourdough leavening preparation for digestibility).
So how do you know that your baby is happily and healthily nourished by the food that he or she is consuming?
We know that our babies are thriving on the nourishment that we provide them when they are happy, growing optimally, sleeping well and FREE of the following symptoms: bloating, gas, rashes, eczema, hives, runny nose, stuffiness, red itchy eyes, swollen eyelids, dark circles under the eyes, constant tearing, diarrhea, mucous stools, intestinal upset, tummy aches, a red rash around the anus, fussiness, irritability, colic, vomiting or increased spitting up or chronic spitting up, ear infections, asthma, undigested food in the stool and poor weight gain.
What about dairy? Introduce fermented or pastured raw dairy when making a significant shift from breastfeeding towards more solid food- ideally somewhere in the range of being as early as 9 months or as late as 18 months. Pasteurized and homogenized milk should be seen for what they are- a processed food that is not well tolerated by most people. However, the quality of pasteurized milk can be improved by culturing it with beneficial bacteria such as yogurt or kefir starter since the casein and lactose are close to completely pre-digested by the beneficial bacteria. This makes the milk more digestible, and the nutrients it contains within it more easily assimilated.
Avoid feeding your baby or child low fat dairy products because fat is essential for your baby to absorb and assimilate minerals, and of course because plenty of saturated fat is essential for your child’s optimal growth, immunity, to build a strong nervous system and to seal the gut lining.
Remember that breast milk is very high in saturated animal fat (human mothers are mammals after all!) and that we must compensate for this high percentage of calories from fat when transitioning our little ones onto solid foods. It is essential that our children are not transitioned onto a low fat standard north American (SAD) diet or a vegan diet, especially if mother chooses to wean baby or her toddler altogether. Ideally for the purposes of optimal nutrition and immunological purposes, we would continue to breastfeed until the age of 4 or 5 years of age (or less if the child self weans).
For whatever reason, if this is not practical or desirable, then special attention must be paid to dietary practices that compensate for the nutritional quality of human milk and reinforce excellent immunity for the child. An excellent way to acknowledge and account for this is to adopt a traditional whole foods diet. By emphasizing nutrient dense vegetal and animal foods (ones that are non irritating and easy to digest), raw or fermented dairy from pastured cows, along with the proper food preparation that eliminates anti nutrients (such as phytic and oxalic acid which bind to minerals and make them unavailable to our babies).
Once we have established the FUNTIME habits, we can rest assured that we are essentially doing everything that is in our power to nourish our young children in a way that promotes optimal digestion, resiliency and vitality!
Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natacha Campbell Mc Bride
Digestion: Inner Pathway to Health David W. Rowland
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig
Tags: Feeding Babies, Feeding Our Children, introducing solid foods to baby, introducing solids, Starting Baby On Solids. Tagged: how to introduce solid foods to babies, traditional foods for baby, transitioning baby to solid food.
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