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Baby Led Weaning

When I became a mother I immediately had the mindset that I would take all the research from the last 8 years to choose which foods would be the first for our baby.  Lot

of well-meaning people have opinions and suggestions  but even though someone is sincere they can be sincerely wrong when it comes to studies of the 'health' care and 'food' industry.  Not only that, but as a new mother and all the mom-shaming going on, I chose to guard my heart from all the unnecessary judgments that were sure to come.   

There is a ton of research that has been done on Monsanto from the early 1900s alone that will make one's head dizzy with mind boggling information in light of health and the sanity of mankind in general.   And so it goes with American food choices, it isn't so much what the food is as much as it is the chemicals and GMOs involved.  With all this information, I have been able to mentally download in my studies over the past 8 years while formulating how I would approach feeding my little one.  My goals are to ensure it is the most nutrient-dense choices and age-appropriate for proper gut assimilation and digestion.

I know everyone wants to feed the cute baby, and understandably so!  (They're sooooo adorable!)  But, with most American moms needing to get back to work, we often rush into getting baby ready to fend for themselves and sometimes, to soon.  Unfortunately, we miss out on some really important bonding, immune system-building and the passing-on of generational nutrition our bodies marvelously provide. 

So What Are We Up Against?

Big companies have a huge advantage for those who consume a good amount of advertising through advertisements and most of those who follow their doctors advice religiously.  There is little room for basic natural and primal instincts in todays fast paced lifestyles for mamas to follow a natural birth plan.  Not to mention all the fear surrounding birth, health and food.  All of which are big money makers for the 'health and food industry.

"Almost every childcare book offers the same advice about a baby's first solid meal -- start them first on rice cereal mixed with breast milk or formula.

This has been received wisdom for 60 years.

But this is because in the 1950's, baby food companies launched an advertising blitz trumpeting the benefits of white rice cereal.

But there is no scientific basis for this recommendation. None at all. And now, concerned about increasing childhood obesity, some pediatricians want to change how babies eat.

If babies are getting used to the taste of highly processed white rice and flour, it could set them up for a lifetime of bad habits.

USA Today reports: White rice -- after processing strips away fiber, vitamins and other nutrients -- is a 'nutritional disaster' ... White rice and flour turn to sugar in the body 'almost instantly,' ... raising blood sugar and insulin levels." If you want to give your baby the best start nutritionally, do not follow the advice in most baby books encouraging you to start feeding rice cereal. Other than breast milk or formula, rice is the number one source of calories for infants in the first year of life, according to Stanford University pediatrician Alan Greene, and this is a nutritional disaster."-Dr. Mercola.

Given that their precious baby gut is fresh and ready to absorb the abundant nutrition breastmilk has to offer, you most likely won't want to prime them with the glue-like coating of processed bleach flour would you? Think paper mache'. Ideally, your baby should be breastfed exclusively, meaning no other food or water is supplemented for at least the first 6 months.   A baby's gut is still forming as they grow just as you are priming baby's tastebuds to make healthy decisions as they grow into adulthood.  

At the age of 6 or 9 months, you can begin to supplement with solid foods (while still continuing to breastfeed as well).

So What is Baby-Led Weaning?

In short, Baby Led Weaning (BLW) is skipping thin and runny purées and not feeding your baby with a spoon.

And although your baby won't nessarily need solids for a few months, your baby can begin to explore textures, tastes, colors and smells while sharpening their motor skills through grabbing, smashing, squishing, listening to and smearing the foods presented to them.

When and What Signs Let Me Know Baby is Ready?

Whether your baby is breast-fed or bottle-fed, there's no rush to start solids. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for about 6 months. If you'd like to introduce solids earlier than that, keep in mind that your baby probably won't show all these signs of readiness – they're just clues to watch for:

  • Can hold head up

  • Sits well in highchair

  • Makes chewing motions

  • Shows significant weight gain (doubled birth weight) and weighs at least 13 pounds

  • Shows interest in food

  • Can close mouth around a spoon

  • Can move food from front to back of mouth

  • Can move tongue back and forth

  • Is losing tendency to push food out of mouth with tongue

What Should I Feed Baby First?

"According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, egg yolk should be your baby's first solid food, starting as early as 4 months, whether your baby is breastfed or formula-fed. Egg yolks from free-range hens will contain the special long-chain fatty acids so critical for the optimal development of your child's brain and nervous system.
However, the egg whites may cause an allergic reaction so they're best avoided until your child is at least 1 year old...   The yolk should be soft and warm, not hot, with its enzyme content intact."-Dr. Mercola

Along with egg yolk, I started my little on the following soft and nutrition-packed foods within a few days of each other and added more in the continuing months as more teeth begin to erupt and the GI tract epithelium began to mature.  Here are some loose guides for month to month foods.  

6-8 months:

  • Organic Avacados

  • Organic boiled sweet potato with organic unrefined coconut oil

  • Organic carrots

  • Cooked organic greens, finely chopped or pureed, such as kale, chard, collards, spinach 

  • Organic squashes, such as butternut, acorn and other winter squashes 

  • Yolk of a soft boiled egg (organic, non-gmo, pasture raised)

8-12 months (after feeding the savory foods at first we began giving her sweeter foods towards the end of her meals):

  • Organic Bananas

  • Organic Blueberries

  • Organic Watermelon

  • Organic Cantaloupe 

  • Organic Mango

  • Organic Kiwi

  • Organic Raspberries

  • Organic Blackberries

  • Organic raw nut butters 

12 months: They say at this age they can eat anything you're eating.  I would say yes, if you're still eating organic as much as possible.  We aren't feeding our little one dairy and meats until closer to 18-24 months or later and it will be from farms that allow their cows, chickens, etc to roam freely and eat non-gmo natural food like grass.    Here are a few things we are feeding her currently that she loves:

  • boiled and pureed Organic cauliflower and broccoli with celtic sea salt and organic raw olive oil

  • Organic mashed asparagus 

  • Organic seaweeds that become soft on soaking, such as wakame or nori

There are some foods she was totally into and then lost interest or some she had no desire for.  We simply followed her cue and then reintroduced them later.

How Much is Enough?

When we eat, we are not trying to have her 'finish her plate'.  I found that trying to force a little one to eat what we think the amount should be is not only  adding unnecessary frustration but unnecessary expectations.  Remember baby's stomach is considerably smaller than your own and small amounts like a teaspoon or two are more than enough to start off with.  Many who advocate Baby Led Weaning believe that babies who feed themselves early on are better able to control just what their bodies need to nourish them.  If she is hungry, she will eat!

As baby begins to be able to eat more and more variety, you will want to make sure they are getting a consistent well rounded wholesome diet including the following:

  • filtered water

  • Organic vegetables

  • Organic fruits

  • Probiotics - We currently love the Healthy Trinity brand

  • Healthy Fats like avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, raw nut butters

  • brain foods like marine phytoplankton, krill oil, walnuts and/or raw egg yolk

  • Sun shine

  • Love

Formulas, Store bought foods and Outside Contaminants Oh My!

By no means is this a section on judging.  Mothers, father and caregivers do best with the information given to them and so I want to only help spread recent research and studies for the betterment of all babies to be nourished to the best possible.  

"Mead Johnson's Enfagrow, a nutritional supplement for toddlers, is little more than fortified milk with added sugar. The first three ingredients on the label are just that: whole milk, nonfat milk and sugar. Other weaning biscuits for toddlers can contain up to 29 percent sugar or even contain trans fats, both of which are simply atrocious for adults, let alone infants. 

Even organic baby foods can contain excessive amounts of processed salt, or may expose your infant to toxic contaminants like BPA from plastic containers, even if the content itself is agreeable.