Many people are not aware of these great options. Have you heard of baby led weaning or bone broth for babies? Find out more!
By Lindsey Mills | staff writer for The Snap Mom
Over the past 2 years, I have become somewhat of a closet nutrition junky. I am highly intrigued by our diets and the effect they have on our bodies!
Let’s start with rice and/or oatmeal. With my first, I did everything my doctor said because I trusted his expertise. I started with these grains. I didn’t do the research for myself! My second daughter started to show signs of eczema at 3 months old. I never gave her cereals, and eventually we didn’t allow any gluten at all. She is now 2, and she has overcome her sensitives, Praise God!
I want to share some knowledge on better first foods for those who, like me, didn’t know!
Grain cereals are still very much recommended by many pediatricians as a first food for babies at 4 months. We chose baby led weaning and so we also skipped the cereals all together. I suggest looking very closely at readiness signs to decide a starting age and waiting until 6 months for a major development in the digestive tract. (read more)
“Grains contain gluten, and its ugly sidekicks lectins, mild toxins that inhibit the repair of the GI tract. Lectins are not broken down in the digestive process and bind to receptors in the intestine, allowing them and other food particles to leech into your bloodstream. Nothing like pre-digested food circulating the blood stream! The body views these lectins and the food they bring with them as dangerous invaders and initiates an immune response to get rid of them. This immune response to particles of common foods explains the allergy creating potential of grains.“- Katie from Wellness Mama
Unfortunately, early exposure to grains can lead to food allergies (not to mention a love for starch), and I wasn’t willing to take that risk. Especially when there are so many other options with much better nutritional value!
Many moms wait to introduce fruits. However, it is not clear in the research if waiting to add fruits is beneficial in developing a palette with variety. Whole fruit provides a ton of easily-accessible nutrition (technically, avocado is a fruit). Breastmilk and Formula are pretty sweet, so it’s not unfamiliar to babies. It’s a personal decision. The key either way is providing a range of nutritionally beneficial foods.
1. Bone Broth
Homemade bone broth is loaded with minerals, gelatin, and glycosaminoglycans (which include substances like chondroitin and glucosamine, keratin and hyaluronic acid and more). These nutrients help in the development and health of teeth, bones, hair, nails, and joints in babies and adults alike.
Bone broth is also a digestive elixir that helps the lining of a baby’s digestive tract to mature and strengthen, preparing baby’s tummy to digest more complicated foods down the road.
It’s super easy to make. Recipe HERE
Serve: warm in a cup, or add it to puréed food
This is a great first food filled with healthy fats that will keep your little one filled up longer. The mono-unsaturated fats in avocado are brain fuel!
Serve: raw and chopped into cubes or sticks
3. Sweet Potatoes
High in vitamin A, B-6, and potassium
Vitamin A plays has a strong role in vision and bone growth and helps protect the body from infections. B vitamins help babies metabolize protein, carbs, and fats. Potassium works with sodium to control the body’s water balance. It also helps with muscle function and heart rhythm.
Serve: baked, boiled, steamed in cubes or “fry” shaped
Known for vitamins C and A
Vitamin C aids in red blood cell production and repair. It also promotes healthy gums and immune systems! For Vitamin A benefits, see above.
Serve: steamed, boiled, or roasted; chopped small without stem or served in large pieces with stem as handle
Great source of vitamin K and iron
Vitamin K is beneficial to blood clotting. While babies do absorb some vitamin K from their diet, they get most of it from the bacteria in their gut. Keep those guts healthy with probiotics! Iron helps your babies body produce hemoglobin, which delivers oxygen in the blood to the cells.
Serve: chopped small either raw or slightly steamed; spinach nutrients are more available when slightly steamed
Good source of beta carotene, antioxidants, and fiber
Our bodies turn beta carotene into Vitamin A, so hurray for a natural boost! They contain phytochemicals that may protect against heart disease and certain cancers. And of course, fiber helps with normalizing bowel movements!
Serve: steamed, roasted, boiled in cubes or long sticks
Salmon and salmon roe are excellent sources of essential fatty acids like EPA and DHA, as well as vitamin D, which is hard to find in food sources. This makes it a great choice for first foods. Mix up some salmon roe, flaked salmon, and avocado for a good dose of healthy fat!
Serve: Baked, grilled, or sautéed and cut small
8. Egg Yolks
Egg yolks are a super easy to prepare first food. They are a great source of omega 3’s! The whites are harder to digest, so you may want to stick to yolks until after 1.
Serve: boiled; I used to boil up a half dozen eggs at a time and then always had them on hand for quick meals.
NOTE: A good “rule of thumb” is to keep things skinnier than your thumb and able to be smushed between your fingers with slight pressure. Long “fry” shapes are easier for beginners to pick up than cubes, and babies will just bite the top part off.
*Even if you chose the route of puréed food for you babe, research your options! There are many great tips for making, storing, and serving purees out there.
About the author:
Lindsey is a scrunchy wife and mom to two adorable girls. She is also the salon owner of Southern Roots and works part time doing hair. She loves animals, gardening, and is very involved in her home church.