First of all, I am definitely not a doctor and do not claim to be one. I get contacted a lot by mothers asking me questions about how I am raising my son though since he has been pretty darn healthy and a pretty easy baby. Specifically, I get asked about his diet and in general about grains for babies and when to introduce them to your child.
I have been lucky enough to have an amazing support system throughout my pregnancy, labor and now being a new mom. Even my very medical OB let me labor for 3 days since I was healthy and my baby was healthy. In his words, “ The baby will come when he is ready.” I know plenty of moms that trust just one source blindly for their information. I ALWAYS do my own research and decide for myself what is the right path to take and am always willing to change my mind if I find new information that supports a different and better opinion.
Let us start with food. We all need food to survive right? Especially a baby. Not all moms have a successful time breastfeeding. Some breastfeed solely, some pump and do bottles, some do formula and breastfeed and some only do formula. Bottom line, a baby needs to eat! I had a pretty easy time breastfeeding so I was very lucky. At only 1 month my son took a bottle of breast milk from my husband with ease and never had any issues taking a bottle or breastfeeding. This made my life VERY easy. Not all families have as much luck.
I take a more holistic approach to food, diet and medicine but even the medical sites that come up if you type into Google “how long a child should be breastfed”, say at least 12 months with food being introduced at 6 months. As many of you may know, parenting “rules” change over time. Most of your parents will tell you that they were told to place you on your stomach to sleep as a baby yet now it is strongly suggested to place a baby on her back for fear of SIDS. Basically, things are changing a LOT. So if your mom or mother-in-law decides to tell you how you are doing something “wrong” keep in mind that when they were new moms they were told to parent differently than you and you survived and turned out decent so they had to do something right, right?
This brings me to grains for a baby. I (EBF) exclusively breastfed my son until 6 months old. He was a big baby and I could tell he was very much ready to eat and wanted to. He wanted to eat a bit before 6 months but studies show that introducing solids to a baby before 6 months may increase the risk of health problems like allergies and eczema so I held off.
Another thing which some doctors still suggest, yet many do not anymore (including our pediatrician), is starting a baby off with grains as a first food. I constantly see moms asking what rice cereal to feed their new baby. Sometimes this is due to a baby not gaining sufficient weight, but most of the time it is just because it is mushy and easy for a baby to eat. Let’s look at grains though and how easy they are for us to digest as adults. If I ate a bunch of rice and oatmeal all day I would not feel so great. If I ate some organic sweet potatoes, eggs, carrots, zucchini, and other veggies all with some good fatty ghee I would feel pretty damn good. I am 27 and still don’t feel good when I eat grains so I cannot imagine how hard they are on a baby’s digestive system. Can you? Keep in mind that your baby’s digestive system is brand spanking new!
The first food I gave my son was the yolk of a soft boiled egg. I got this idea from the Weston A. Price Foundation. I would put my egg in some boiling water for about 4-5 minutes and crack it open. The yolk would be the perfect consistency for my son. I would add a tiny bit of salt to it and he would EAT IT UP! He would even say “mmmmm” while eating it. Egg yolks have such good fats in them and are so healthy for a baby. I started out only with the yolk since some babies have an allergy to the white part of the egg. I later introduced a little of the egg white to my son and waited a couple of days. No reaction so I knew all was good. He loves his eggs even now at a year old. I can’t even eat one without sharing it.
I also introduced sweet potatoes, avocado, some mango, carrots, and apples to him as first foods. He enjoyed them all and had no stomachaches. I introduced them one at a time though and waited a couple of days to see if he had any reactions. We have been fortunate enough to not have any reactions to anything besides cow products. We think he may grow out of it but until then he loves goat cheese so we are not at any loss.
So now with a 12 month old, when do I plan on introducing grains to my son’s diet? Good question. I want to wait a bit longer still as I do not see much nutritional value in them. I don’t think my son needs the extra “empty food” either. He is already the size of a 2 year old and eats more than I do. As you know, I am celiac and I do not know if my son is celiac or not so I am extra careful to ensure he doesn’t consume any gluten at all.
When you do decide to introduce grains to your baby’s diet, try soaking them in water and a little yogurt or buttermilk for 24 hours. This will make it much easier on your little one to break down the grains. We did a slight combo of baby led weaning and purees and have been very successful with it. You can read online about the benefits of baby led weaning and see if it is a good fit for your little one.
Remember, food is for fun until 1 so don’t stress too much if your baby isn’t too interested in anything but boob and bottles. That is what she needs.
From our home to yours, Tina Turbin.