I don’t know about you, but food has been a main topic of conversation with my mommy friends and me. I have always loved food and knew I wanted to raise my kids to love food, as well. But, as we were approaching the feeding milestone, I had no idea how or what to feed this tiny little human!
There were two resources that I found most helpful.
My pediatrician, Dr. Lauren Feder, turned me on to The Weston A. Price Foundation and the book Nourishing Traditions. As I started reading, I learned a lot about things I never knew - such as the stages to introduce certain foods to your child, the benefits of bone broth and gelatin for babies, positive effects of eating fermented foods, and why (contrary to popular belief) cereal and other processed white refined foods are not always the best first foods for your baby. Granted, every parent, pediatrician and child are different, and they all recommend or require something different. I wanted to share with you the questions that I have asked the most and the answers I found revealing and helpful.
When do I introduce solids?
I found that it is recommended to start feeding babies around the 6-month mark.
I met a wonderful woman named Cynthia Epps, MS, IBCLC. Cynthia is considered one of the top specialists in the nation on infant feeding and has a credible background in the study of infant food allergies. Cynthia states “At six months, a baby’s immune system, digestive system and kidneys have matured to the point where first foods can be eaten safely.” She referred me to a study done by child health expert Barbara Devaney called the Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS) which states that certain milestones, such as sitting without support, are indicators of an infants’ readiness to eat solid foods. Most of these milestones are not reached until 6 months of age.
What do I feed my child first?
I did not start Camden on cereal as a first food, and still haven’t introduced cereal in his diet, and here is why…
First, I personally have gluten sensitivity, so I’m more aware and cautious of gluten containing grains that can be found in infant cereals and the effects it can have on the digestive system. Second, Cynthia Epps told me about a very interesting marketing/advertising campaign that happened during the “Mad Men” advertising era of the 1950s -1970s, which led to the mass popularity of cereal as a first food.
To sum up our conversation, Cynthia explained that around the 1950’s, the dairy industry put A LOT of money in advertisements claiming that dairy based formula was better and healthier for your child than breast milk. Thus, the numbers of breastfed babies saw a drastic decline. At the same time, the U.S. saw a spike in iron deficiencies in babies (due to the loss of iron that babies were naturally receiving from breast milk). During this time, iron fortified formula wasn’t on the market. Next, the rice/wheat industry saw this as an opportunity to become part of the baby food industry. They started producing “Iron Fortified” cereals as a way to off set iron deficiencies that were happening, because babies were mostly formula fed. It wasn’t the cereal that was necessarily important for the baby; it was the iron. Crazy, right!
This really got me to wonder “WHY” cereal was the first food socially and commercially recommended to feed your child. Was it because people claimed babies slept better? Did it hold nutrients that were thought to be most beneficial? Or, was it just the result of one of the best consumer driven food advertisements in history?
Another thing on cereal - Weston A. Price states that cereal is made using an extrusion process of high temperature that destroys nutrients and causes oils to go rancid and difficult to digest. I didn’t want to give my child, who is starting to build a tiny digestive system, something that is hard to digest.
I want to note, I am not saying cereal is bad, or that babies shouldn’t start with cereal. I have friends that swear by cereal, as that is what worked for them. I just want to highlight the other options available. I believe it is perfectly safe to start with green or yellow fruits/vegetables such as avocado, banana and squash instead of the traditional baby cereals sweetened with fruit, which lowers the risk of infant constipation, and possible food allergies.
When Camden was 6 months old, I started making his baby food (click here for a previous post on my favorite baby food maker), and introduced him to lots of flavors and textures including avocado, squash, sweet potato, pear and banana. My friends and I started sharing stories and this is what they have to say…
“Whit is 9 months 12 days old. We started solids at 6 months with rice cereal mixed with breast milk. He loves kiwi, yogurt, and grilled cheese. We've tried almost everything now and have moved on to finger/table food.”
“Ellery is 9 months (tomorrow!) I started feeding her at 6 months. I introduced avocado first. It’s easy to travel with and feed. My nanny showed me how to take the spoon and scrape it into a soft paste (rather than cut it). It’s like a puree but you doing have to mash it. Favorite food so far is ground turkey. I seasoned it with oil and light spices. She also LOVES unsweetened coconut. And stewed apples + raisins are GREAT if you have constipation issues. I also do probiotics (udi’s) and flax oil in her bottles.”
“Spencer was 6 months when we started with cereal, carrots, butternut squash. Her favorite food currently is yogurt, she gobbles it up. She loves all veggies this far. She is not 8 months old. We have yet to give her animal protein but will any day now.”
“Sam is 4 months old, he get’s lots of booby. No food yet but we will probably start when he’s 6 months old.”
“August is 9 months. We started foods just before 6 months. We did a short stint with baby led weaning, so his first food was steamed whole broccoli (not sure if he are it). Followed shortly by rice cereal and ricotta. His favorite food is ricotta. We've tried a ton, but we are yet to fully grasp (punny) finger foods. He still likes it when mama feeds him. Curious for my independent little guy.”
“Camden is 8 months old, we have done all fruits and veggies, and just did scrambled egg about 2 weeks ago. We have tried some gluten free grains like quinoa, and will start with lean meat and dairy at about 10 months.”
As you can see, we have all taken different, creative approaches and they have worked great! I love the varieties and options there are with first foods. It’s encouraging and inspires me to keep pushing healthy boundaries with first foods.
What should I know about food allergies?
It is always important to talk to your pediatrician about this, but here is a quick list of the top food allergies I have heard or read about. Here is a link on ways to avoid food allergies and symptoms to look out for.
What are the best ways to prepare first foods?
As mentioned earlier, I use my Baeba Babycook Pro to steam and puree baby food. It is super easy and worth the time and energy it saves mommas! You should also check out led weaning if you haven’t, which I have tried along with many of my friends and really love the concept. I am a fan of Catherine McCord, creator and author of Weelicious. She has amazing recipes and food tips for the whole family, including first foods and prep. Weston Price also breaks down first food options and ways to prepare.
Other things to consider:
- Recommended serving size is determined by the size of your baby’s closed fist
- Say NO to soy formula! Weston A Price and Dr. Sears along with a slew of other credible resources say that soy is one of the most processed and genetically modified foods on the planet (along with corn and wheat). Most soy is manufactured in a way that denatures proteins and increases levels of carcinogens. Soy leads to deficiencies of vitamin D, calcium, hypothyroidism and soy-based formula contains estrogen equivalent of 5 birth controls pills a day. GROSS!
- Always talk to your trusted pediatrician or specialist on their thoughts, as well as other trusted mommas and caregivers!
What are good store-bought food options?
I don't buy a lot of pre-packaged snacks for Camden. There's the occasional teething snack and squeezee pouch of fruit purée, but for the most part I enjoy making my own foods. That being said, when our family is traveling or really on-the-go, relying on homemade food is not always possible. On those occasions you can find me toting around a lot of pre-packaged items and I feel particularly good about it when they're all natural and organic.
So today I am offering an awesome GIVEAWAY of two of my all time favorite pre-packaged snacks, Plum Organics and GoGo Squeez Organic Applesauce. What I love about Plum Organics and GoGo Squeez babyfood is that they are 100% all natural, organic, vegan, wheat/gluten free and contain no preservatives, added colors or flavors, no high-fructose corn syrup and no GMOs.
Giveaway Instructions for Plum Organics and GoGo Squeez Organic Applesauce:
ONE giveaway winner will receive 1 box each of Plum Organics Stage 1 "Just Mangos", Stage 1 "Just Prunes" and Stage 2 "Broccoli & Apple" for a total of 3 boxes (each box contains 6 pouches). The winner will also receive 1 box each of the following GoGo Squeez Organic Applesauce flavors for a total of 3 boxes (each box contains 4 pouches): Apple Banana, Apple Peach, Apple Strawberry
1. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.
2. Tweet/Retweet about this giveaway post using #firstfoodsgiveaway OR comment on the giveaway picture on my instagram and pinterest page using #firstfoodsgiveaway
3. Leave a comment below telling me your family's favorite snack treat with the best email to reach you
4. Must have a US mailing address
5. Winner to be announced Monday, May 19th
What age did you start introducing solids? What foods did you feed your child first? Any food tips you can share? Would love to hear from you in the comments below!
GIVEAWAY WINNER IS: Jennifer Alton. Please email me your address to firstname.lastname@example.org for shipment. Thank you!