Christine & Dr Mary Anne Talk Solid Foods

Solid foods PART 1: when to feed baby, what to feed baby, fruit, veggies, grains? If you jump online now you’re going to find a multitude of varying information about when and what you should feed your baby. Today our lovely Christine is here to debunk myths and offer a quick guide to doing it right...read on...

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In my private practice, parents are always asking me to share my thoughts on childhood nutrition. Today I’m going to offer a view of what and when baby’s first foods should be from the basis of how the endocrine and immune systems develop together. And, as you guessed it, the digestive system is at the heart of this discussion!

Whether you’re choosing a vegan, vegetarian or another type of diet for your little one, there’s definitely some science to it. With the advice of my colleague and pediatric specialist, Dr. Mary Anne Morelli-Haskell, we’ll help dispel myths about feeding and then you can try a few of the tasty baby food recipes we’ve been whipping up in my Garden Eats kitchen. Dr. Mary Anne is our (Juli + My) pediatrician. She practices functional and osteopathic medicine with children and families and is passionate about everything that makes it into your little one’s mouth!

W H E N. Dr. Mary Anne says, “some babies are clamoring for your plate of food at four months old; others are only interested in breast milk until nine or ten months.  By six months most babies are ready for a bite of a new flavor.  When a baby is ready to eat, they should be able to sit up on their own and manage to keep a bit of food in their mouth.”

W H A T. Traditionally, rice cereal is offered as a first food to babies with no substantial basis of nutritive value. When we wonder how so many kids develop food allergies, this is the perfect place to begin that question. Dr. Mary Anne comments, “babies need protein, iron and zinc to grow. Grains are not good sources of these nutrients and can be constipating. Gluten, the protein found in wheat is notoriously hard to digest, especially after hybridization creates new proteins unfamiliar to humans. Long storage times increase the risk of mold, and processing further destroys the value of this once staple food.  

Babies have plenty of digestive enzymes to digest protein and fats, but don’t make amylase to break down starches until closer to one year of age. This would suggest for the meat eaters that organic meat, safe fish and organic eggs (yolks are less allergenic) could be good first foods when properly blended. Or {for those who don't like meat} I suggest a fruit or a vegetable; something simple to digest.”

Without amylase, the immune system now has to work “overtime” in an attempt to do something useful with grains. Eventually the body realizes there is no use for them however. What results are freely circulating proteins within the blood stream.

Here are a few general rules to live by when choosing baby and children’s foods:

Go organic! Not that an adult has a better time attempting to process pesticides, but a baby’s delicately forming immune and endocrine systems experience developmental difficulties and damage from pesticides.

Choose Non-GMO. They’re organic and they have only been modified by nature. Eat food that nature intended, not food that was developed in a lab. GMO foods can create unpredictable effects on the endocrine and immune system.

Say No BPA. You can’t always make baby food or sometimes you’ll need to grab on the go. Be sure to choose packaged foods that are free of BPA (BPA is often found in the lids of jarred and canned foods).

++ Christine & Dr Mary Anne