Even before we had a baby I was interested in how ancestral nutrition influences fertility and fetal and child development.
It struck me as crazy that, in accordance with conventional “nutrition” advice and mainstream marketing, babies are often fed things like rice cereal, cheerios and little cookie biscuit things as their first foods. (It says “for baby” on the package so isn’t it good??)
And then we wonder why toddlers (and then kids and teens) are grumpy, tired, have dark circles under their eyes and behavior issues, just to mention a few…
So when our daughter Isla was around 4 months I started researching what we should feed her when she starts solid foods. This was especially of interest because I’d never really made enough breastmilk for her, and we had been relying on donor milk to help her grow.
I didn’t want to give her conventional formula considering I wouldn’t eat most of those ingredients myself. Luckily I found out about the Weston A. Price Foundation baby formula, which is designed to provide similar nutrition to breastmilk but with whole foods. We make the formula with high-quality milk that we get from a farm nearby.
The WAPF formula and pumped breastmilk make up the majority of her diet, and then I wanted to make sure we were introducing the right foods for her. I had heard of people feeding babies things like avocado, banana and sweet potato.
I did some research and found this article from Mama Natural to be the most helpful as well as well as this page from Weston A. Price. You can also find more thoughts along the primal / paleo / ancestral approach from Wellness Mama and Mommypotamus.
Although WAPF recommends root vegetables such as sweet potato, carrot and beet as first foods, other research indicates that root vegetables and leafy greens are higher in nitrates, which should be avoided until 6 months and should make up a smaller part of baby’s diet to start.
Best First Foods for a Primal Baby
- soft-cooked egg yolk (from free-range eggs, with a pinch of real salt)
- pureed meat and liver
- butternut or acorn squash with butter
Foods That Should Wait Until Later (ie After 1-Year)
- cooked leafy green vegetables
- raw salad vegetables
- citrus fruit
- whole egg
- nuts and seeds
Should you do baby-led weaning?
I assumed baby-led weaning would be our approach, as it seemed to be what most crunchy parents do. Then I read this article by Sally Fallon from Weston A. Price and changed my approach a bit.
In a nutshell she says that the foods most people prepare for baby to eat by themselves are not actually the foods that baby needs most (ie little sticks of soft vegetables, most of which don’t actually end up in baby’s mouth anyway).
Since the most important nutrients for a baby to get from 4-6 months are iron and zinc, we need to ensure they actually consume some of these important foods.
I get the idea behind baby-led weaning, and definitely do want Isla to feel exploratory and independent in the way she interacts with food, but I also agree with the WAPF commentary linked above.
I learned that:
Food before One is NOT just for fun
As a result we do a mix of spoon-feeding (without ever forcing or even encouraging her to eat more than she’s interested in – I find it’s VERY obvious when she wants more, she opens her mouth and slaps her hands up and down) and also letting her explore food on her own.
Although at this point, she nearly 6 months and doesn’t actually put food in her mouth at all. I think it’s very important to do at least some spoon-feeding to ensure she’s getting that iron.
I believe with this approach we are setting her up to enjoy whole foods and have a nourished body for life.
What are your thoughts on baby’s first foods?