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read an interesting article on first foods


BABY CEREAL IS A COMMON FIRST FOOD TODAY

Your baby is getting older, starting to develop an interest in solid foods.  How exciting!  While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a variety of foods for baby’s first foods, what is one of the first traditional solid food recommended??  Rice, oat or wheat cereal or other pre-packaged baby cereal.  And what is one of the common first finger foods for babies?  Cheerios, Goldfish or some sort of teething cereal cookie.

All of these are cereals that, guess what!, your baby can not properly digest yet!  And yet, for some reason, this is standard nutritional advice for babies in the US.

While we think of feeding babies cereals as ‘normal’, it is not at all historically normal.

TRADITIONAL VIEW OF FEEDING BABIES GRAINS

According to Kristen Michaelis, author of Beautiful Babies, the way baby food is marketed to parents is competely backward of how successful, traditional cultures introduced solid foods to their babies.  ”Cereal grains as a baby’s first solid food are practically unheard of – barring times of famine or war.”

The few cultures that did feed their babies a gruel of grains, this gruel is radically different from our pre-packaged rice cereals or Cheerio snacks.  ”They would either pre-chew the gruel for their babies or the gruel was mildly fermented by soaking the grains for 24 hours or more.”  This would make the grains more digestible for the baby by pre-digesting it for them making it easier on the babies immature digestive system.

WHY BABIES CAN’T TOLERATE GRAINS

Why did traditional cultures do this?  It’s always amazing to me, the more I learn about traditional cultures and how they fed their people, how they knew what was good for them intuitively.  They didn’t have all of the science to explain why, they just knew.

Why is it not good to feed babies cereal grains as a first food?  Babies produce a small amount of salivary amylase, an enzyme that helps digest grains.  They produce almost no pancreatic amylase until after molars are developed.  Most babies’ digestive systems are not able to handle grains/cereal (especially wheat) until at least one year old at the earliest.

EFFECTS OF GRAINS AND CEREALS ON BABIES

If babies are not producing amylase, they are not digesting grains.  Undigested grains can destroy your baby’s intestinal lining and disrupt the balance of good bacteria in the gut.  According to Nourishing Traditions, many doctors warn that feeding cereal grains too early can lead to grain allergies later.  Kristen says that in addition to grain allergies, this can also lead to behavioral problems, mood issues and other food allergies.

In addition grains being undigestible for babies, grains also are not nutrient dense for babies.  Kristen suggests that feeding a baby grains is something they can’t really use and is robbing them of “nutrients they need to grow a healthy brain, nervous system and bone structure.”  If they can’t digest the grains, the grains are taking the place of quality, nourishing foods that the baby could be digesting more easily.

WHAT SHOULD A BABY EAT AS A FIRST FOOD?

So….now what are you supposed to do?  What should baby’s first foods be?  Nourishing Traditions suggests that babies first foods should be animal foods since the digestive system is better able to supply the appropriate enzymes for the digestions of fats and proteins.

Since this is the case, Kristen recommends a diet rich in bone broths, egg yolks, raw liver, butter, bananas, avocados, fish roe and cod liver oil for the first foods.

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