Over the last few months we’ve transitioned from feeding Honor only milk and formula to slowly introducing different types of solid foods. I’ve heard so much about the importance of feeding your baby the right ingredients at the right time to avoid allergies and other problems later in life, so it was crucial to us that we set her off on the right foot from day one. We’ve been making a lot of her food ourselves using the Beaba Babycook to steam and process different every kind of fruit and vegetable we find at the farmer’s market, from sweet potatoes, and carrots, to pears and broccoli.
Before we started out on this journey, I researched into the topic a lot, and I was shocked to find out some scary things about baby food. I also discovered lots of helpful information about how to feed your baby early on, and how this sets them up for better health and eating preferences later in life. Read on to learn more, but please keep in mind that I’m not a doctor – this is just what works for us and our family, and is based on research we did ourselves. Make sure to always consult your pediatrician before embarking on a new nutritional program for your baby.
What To Avoid
I recently learned about the alarming prevalence of heavy metals in packaged baby food (thanks to some great info from HelloYumi, which is a fresh baby food delivery service). Babies are far more vulnerable to harmful chemicals than adults are – even slight exposure in the first 1000 days of life can have long-lasting negative effects. These metals and chemicals include scary things like lead, arsenic, cadmium, and pesticides. I was shocked to find out that there have been reports of these harmful toxins making their way into many popular brands of packaged baby food, either through the ingredients themselves or the handling processes. That’s why it’s extremely important to be conscious of where your ingredients are sourced. We buy organic and local fruits and veggies for Honor, and when we do need to use pre-made food we’re extremely picky with the brands we choose (like HelloYumi – they are very cautious about where they source all their ingredients). We also keep her rice consumption to a bare minimum, as there have been new reports that it has relatively high amounts of poisonous arsenic in it. Luckily there are many other grain options out there like oats, millet and barley, which are a great source of nutrition for babies.
What To Include
It’s important that babies are introduced to a variety of different flavors and ingredients early on, as it can actually affect their health and food preferences as they grow. While they shouldn’t be eating the up the whole pantry from day one, there are lots of baby-safe ingredients that make great first foods. These include infant fortified cereals like oats, and one-ingredient pureed fruits and veggies. It’s important to balance your baby’s sugar intake (fruit can have high amounts of sugar) with high fiber ingredients like safe grains. Once your baby tolerates these simple ingredients well for a while (always give them new things one at a time for a few days, to see how they react), you can begin to introduce other items. Small amounts of protein like eggs, yogurt and meat are great nutritious options after around 7 months. Allergenic items like peanut butter and soy shouldn’t be introduced right away, and should be done with caution to observe your baby’s reaction. But don’t wait too long either – our doctor recommended we put a little peanut butter on Honor’s lip with she was 7 months old (I literally devoured a vat of it every day during my pregnancy, so I wasn’t expecting her to have an issue with it!). It’s been shown that exposing your baby to allergenic foods at the right age can actually decrease the chances of food allergies later on. But as a rule of thumb, things like honey and cow’s milk shouldn’t be introduced before age one. Again – consult your pediatrician before introducing your baby to any new foods and follow their instructions on how to do so and at what age.
Another wonderful thing to feed your baby? Bone broth! I was first told about the benefits of bone broth when having acupuncture during my pregnancy. My acupuncturist is a full-on guru of all things health and wellness, and he told me to try it both during and after pregnancy, and that it’s very beneficial for babies to consume as well, once they are old enough to eat protein (usually around the 7 or 8 month mark). He told me to be picky about where I buy it, not to shop for it at supermarkets but rather at high end butchers, such as Belcampo, or to make it myself. This is because the quality of both the meat, and how it’s made, is important to the nutritional value. Bone broth is an acquired taste, rather like gravy and with a rich consistency. But I was also advised I only needed around a shot glass or two per day, so I either warm it up and down it, or mix it in with my cooking. Vital Proteins makes a bone broth collagen mix, which can be easily and quickly mixed up with hot water.
The benefits of bone broth are huge. I plan to do an entire separate blog post on this, but some of the benefits include improved digestion, bone and joint support, healthy hair and skin, improved immunity, brain health, and so much more. So naturally, your baby will receive these same benefits when they consume it too, which is amazing for their development. You can give your baby small amounts of bone broth in their bottle, of spoonfuls if you’re there yet (though that’s the messier option!). Considering that adults only need a very small amount of bone broth daily, you can assume your baby needs less – ask your doctor how much.
What are some of the foods that you gave your baby first, or what foods did your parents give you? The traditions have changed so much over the years – I’m curious to hear! Tell me below.