So, just how many opinions have you heard on which food is the best first food for your baby? Rice cereal, meat, eggs, vegetables, fruit…so many opinions and so many choices. It is no surprise to me when I get an email from a mom confused about what to feed her baby, there is so much information out there it is hard to know what to do.
Today I will give you my thoughts; they are definitely not the only ones out there, but from my experience with my own son and many, many other little ones it works.
First of all, I do not recommend rice cereal as baby’s first food. I have a few reasons for this:
• Rice cereal is a processed food. It has been processed; most of its nutrients have been removed and then added back in. It is a man made food; it is not real food.
• At the age of solid food introduction, six months, your baby’s ability to digest carbohydrates is impaired because they do not yet have the enzymes required for proper breakdown of the grains. These enzymes begin to make an appearance around six months and slowly increase. At six months the enzyme production is not enough to properly digest cereal grains. Without the ability to properly digest that grains the digestive system much work much harder, using energy that your baby needs elsewhere for growth, development and maintenance of health and well being. The inability to digest the grains can also lead to digestive issues including gassiness, bloating, constipation and cramping.
• Rice cereal is fortified with iron which is the main reason it is recommended as baby’s first food. We are told that a baby’s iron stores run out at six months, and that introducing iron fortified rice cereal is imperative to prevent a deficiency. If your baby is breastfed he will continue to get iron from you. Contrary to popular belief there is iron in breast milk, and although I will agree it is present in small amounts Mother Nature has ensured your baby will be able to absorb it. Your breast milk has two components – lactoferrin and transferrin that help your baby to digest and absorb iron. Rice cereal does not contain these two wonderful components and therefore can make it difficult for your baby to properly digest and utilize the iron it is fortified with which can lead to digestive distress, including constipation, a main complaint moms have when their baby starts rice cereal. It is also important to keep in mind that iron that is not digested and utilized by your baby can feed bad bacteria that live in the gut, if bad bacteria are feed and begin to proliferate this can affect the functioning of the immune system leading to increased risk of illness and increased risk of yeast infections.
So what do I recommend as baby’s first food – real food. Food that is natural, in its whole state, food that has not been processed and striped of its nutrients, food that has been grown without the use of chemicals, pesticides and herbicides, food that supports growth and development and food that supports health and well being now and in the future.
I highly recommend choosing real food for your baby – great first foods include bananas, apples, pears, sweet potatoes, squash, dried apricots and avocados. It is the perfect time to introduce those tiny taste buds to real food with lots of taste and nourishment.
What was your baby’s first food?
Next month I will share with you some tips to preparing real food for your baby, it is easy and fun!