First Foods for Baby -- Part 1

A two part look at what babies are set up to eat and how we can make sure to give them the best possible nutritional foundation for a long, healthy life.

Not many people like change. It’s annoying. It’s a lot of trouble. It can be hard work. But sometimes you have to change. Sometimes it’s for the best. Sometimes you look back and are RELIEVED that you made the change. Keep that in mind as you read this…

I have three small children so keeping small children alive and healthy is something that I spend a lot of time reading about and dwelling on. I consider it a miracle that I’ve been able to keep a child alive for four years -- so anything beyond this is a win for the guy who pooped his pants at school during his senior year of high school.

First foods is something that is especially pressing since I have a one month old and he will soon be eating real food -- well, in five months, but that’ll fly by, as all you young parents know. And the first things babies eat are super important since they lay the foundation of a healthy life for that baby.

Before I continue, I want to make sure it’s clear that my four and three year old daughters ate the typical first foods for babies in this epoch and they’re doing just fine.

I’m here now to try and help you start to understand why maybe we’re not feeding babies the foods they need for optimal growth, development and health -- for the most part. And that if you did feed your kids the same foods that I fed my first two, you understand the need to get them the foods they need before it’s too late.

I also want to be clear that if you’ve made a conscious decision to feed your kids Cheerios and rice cereal and have decided that’s good and healthy -- then this article is not for you so please go to another website before you get angry.

This article is for parents out there who, like me, did what we were advised to do by mainstream schools of thought and are realizing that maybe that isn’t the best way to do it. But also know that the window for creating a solid nutritional foundation doesn’t close at one year or two have a range of time to work with here.

So let’s break it down -- when you think of first foods what are the things that come to mind?

Cheerios? Rice Cereal? Puffs? Fruit and veggies in jars? Stuff like that, right?

I’m guessing things like liver, soft-boiled egg yolks and cod liver oil probably weren’t on your list. They certainly weren’t on mine four years ago, and I was extremely intentional and thoughtful about what my oldest daughter ate when she turned six months old.

She got puffs, cereal, rice cereal, oatmeal, and lots of jars of organic fruits and veggies.

Basically, the advice new parents receive is to feed young children lots of sugary foods and very, very little fat and protein -- and upon further investigation, this seems pretty backwards. Those jars of fruits and veggies are great if organic or homemade, but even then they have trace amounts of fat and protein which means they’re all carbs and the fruits are mainly fructose.

Ever since the demonization of fat and cholesterol, we have been advised to give babies rice cereal, cheerios and lots of processed/packaged fruits and veggies with little to no fat included. And I’m no doctor but I’m also not a complete idiot (hush up anyone who knows me personally) -- I think it’s safe to assume that the rise in allergies, autoimmune disorders and other childhood diseases can be at least partially related to babies and children getting no solid nutritional foundation to stand on. At least our parents grew up eating real food. They at least had a solid base. Our kids today don’t even have that and they’re getting diabetes before they hit puberty.

That’s one thing I don’t want for my son -- to get a gluco-meter before he gets a razor.

Babies and kids need fat -- we ALL need fat, but this is about babies and kids so that’s what I’m focusing on. Side note -- generally anything that’s healthy for a small human is healthy for a bigger, older human.

If babies didn’t need fat for optimal growth and development of EVERYTHING, breast milk wouldn’t be 60% fat with more than half of that fat being saturated with tons of cholesterol.

GASP! Cholesterol? You mean...the devil??!!

No, I mean the molecule that is an antioxidant, that keeps the brain from “rusting”, that’s needed to make hormones and metabolize Vitamin D, that protects the nervous system and brain, that’s critical for digestive health -- THAT’S the cholesterol I’m talking about.

Well then...SATURATED FAT is the devil. That’s what we’ve been told for two  generations, right?

No. Saturated fat (from healthy sources) is necessary for cell structure, absorption of fat soluble vitamins, brain development, nervous system communication, feeding the heart which prefers fat for fuel, lung tissue health, and bone strength.

Breast milk is 60% fat because babies’ brains are 60% fat, and it needs the fat to grow and develop.

Ever wonder why high quality, grass fed butter & steak and eggs from pastured chickens taste amazing?? It’s not because they’re bad for us. It’s because our bodies need them so they want them to be great tasting and appealing.

Now, there are things that taste great and are horrible for you...for more on that, read this.

So we know that babies are designed to breastfeed for a while, and while they’re breast feeding, they’re getting breast milk, which by definition, is an animal product loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol. So we also know that babies’ systems are inherently set up to break down and assimilate lactose in milk because they have lactase in their systems. Lactase is what we need to break down lactose.

So it makes sense that little babies should be able to utilize animal products from healthy sources and would PREFER to do so.

In Part 2 of this article coming soon, we'll discuss certain things that are in animal products that aren't in plants, and actually give you a list of foods that would be great to include in a baby's or small child's diet (or YOUR diet, too!)

Listen to the Simply Human Podcast on iTunes

or on Stitcher.