I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t do things this way with my first child, but since self educating and learning about food and nutrition, I am using what I have learnt over the years and am working hard on making better food choices for my youngest child, who is now almost 7 months old. (It’s not always easy…. particularly on the move)
Breast milk is perfect for babies as it is full of fatty acids, antibodies, nutrients, protein and fat. I didn’t know this, but breast milk apparently changes to meet the needs of baby as he/she grows. Weather breast feeding or formula feeding, there comes a time when baby will be ready for solid food (this is usually recommended around 6 months, but look out for tell tale signs. My son was always watching us eat food and seemed quite curious. We started to introduce veggies slowly at almost 6 months)
What are the recommended ‘first foods’?
Some health care professionals and paediatricians recommend oatmeal, rice cereal, toast, fruit puree, sweet snacks (some even juices). It is interesting that starchy and sweet foods like grains and fruits are recommended first.
Both oatmeal and rice contain lectins and you might argue that most foods contain lectins, but some are more problematic than others and have been linked to allergies.
‘Lectins are involved in food allergies/sensitivities, inflammation and autoimmune disease, just to name a few. For instance, lectins are linked to celiac disease. Even weight gain and low energy can be linked to lectins’.
Common food allergies
- Peanuts (they contain lectins)
- Wheat (contains gluten and lectin!)
- Soy (guess what, also has lectin!)
- Corn (it’s a grain)
- Peas (a legume)
Peas and corn are not vegetables and they both contain lectins. Research has shown that some foods have a higher concentration of problematic lectins that others. There are ways to reduce lettings (sprouting is particularly good for this) o
I have personally avoided giving my son gluten because I do not believe that grains are a necessary part of a childhood diet, or anyone’s diet in fact. Research suggests that grains can be damaging to the body and some people are intolerant to grains and don’t even know it.
are some of the first “vegetables” usually introduced to kids, and neither one is a vegetable (but guess what, they both contain lectins!) at this point, some of you are probably ready to point out that most foods contain lectins. While this is true, research has shown that some foods have higher concentrations of more problematic lectins than others.
Grains are not a necessary part of a childhood diet, or anyone’s diet, for that matter. So what foods should you introduce to your baby first? I recommend vegetables. There is a strange mentality among many moms that we should not force vegetables on babies or toddlers (perhaps because this adds to our own guilt for not eating them ourselves?).
Vegetables have a much higher nutrient content than grains and less chance of an allergic response. Unfortunately, the convenient jar baby food on grocery store shelves doesn’t have anywhere near the nutrients of fresh steamed and pureed vegetables. Ever read the labels? Besides the token vegetable or fruit, jar baby food contains mostly water and small amounts of added fillers to keep everything the same consistency. This is one case where it truly is, hands down, cheaper to make your own baby food. What you pay for in the store is so much water and filler that you could make huge amounts of fresh vegetables for your baby for less. All you need is a food processor or blender, some vegetables, and a little water or milk if you need to thin things down a little. Homemade baby food can be frozen in small amounts for later, making it convenient.
Obviously, a departure from the baby food aisle will require a little more thought, but is actually a simpler option once you adapt to it. Here are some helpful things I discovered when making the switch:
- Give avocado as a first food. It has enough fat to keep baby satisfied longer and a few spoon fulls of avocado put a whole bowl of rice cereal to shame on nutrient content. I always carry a ripe avocado and a spoon in the diaper bag. If baby gets hungry, I just peel a little of the skin off, scoop out avocado and feed him. Any extra can be stored in a ziploc until you get home. No bowl or bottled water needed!
- Other great first foods are sweet potato, winter squash, asparagus, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, carrots, spinach, greens, or green beans.
- Baby foods don’t even need to be pureed. Once baby is 6 months old (earliest you should introduce solids anyway), you can just cook vegetables until soft, cut into small pieces and put in front of baby. He or she will eat when hungry.
- Go organic whenever you can. Even small amounts of pesticides and chemicals can have a damaging effect on little bodies!
- By 7-8 months, you can introduce cooked (but still soft) egg yolks to baby. This is a great source of protein, cholesterol and fat. Also by this point, you can start introducing small pieces of meat to baby… they love protein!
I hoped to include some resources for switching to healthy baby foods, but unfortunately, there aren’t many! If you have any questions, ideas, suggestions, or rants, leave a comment below!