Often a question parents have when it comes to feeding solids is what foods should I include in my baby’s meals throughout the day?
Babies have immature digestive systems and produce very little enzymes necessary for the digestion of foods. So it makes sense to offer baby easily digestible foods and foods that support digestion, such as bone broth. Bone broth is a fabulous 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 loaded with minerals, gelatin, and glycosaminoglycans (which include substances like chondroitin and glucosamine, keratin and hyaluronic acid and more). These nutrients support the development and health of teeth, bones, hair, nails, and joints in babies and us grown ups.
Bananas are also easily digested, Bananas are one of the few carbohydrate rich foods that are also rich in amylase. So, they come with the enzyme your baby needs to digest them already built-in.
Bone marrow and liver are also very easily digested and jam packed with nutrients essential for baby. I will discuss these further on.
As starchy foods require the enzyme amylase to digest and babies don’t produce this enzyme until their molar teeth are developed, it’s best to limit or omit starchy foods like white potato, sweet potato etc. and avoid at all costs the highly processed, nutrient void rice cereal and baby cereals often recommend as a first food (see our post on grains and wheat HERE)
Another important fact to consider when planning babies meals, especially for babies who are formula fed is that cholesterol in human milk supplies an infant with close to six times the amount most adults consume from food. Commercial formulas contain very little to none at all cholesterol. Meaning formula fed babies must make their own cholesterol for use in brain and body, using up much needed energy for development.
Cholesterol is the activator for the oxytocin receptor in the brain and in the absence of cholesterol, this receptor inactivates. Lack of oxytocin in autistic children is involved with their inability to recognize voices, faces, and other visual cues. Many autistic children on the spectrum have low cholesterol levels. (For more information read this interesting article)
Including cholesterol in babies diet through foods such as egg yolks, bone marrow, liver, pate and animal fats like duck fat is essential to support healthy brain and nervous system development.
Equally as important to include in babies diet is fermented foods. In the first critical days after birth one of the most important steps you can take that will determine the health and long-term wellness of your baby will be to ensure the proper development and maintenance of her inner ecosystem. A healthy inner ecosystem is when your baby’s intestines have the proper balance of beneficial microflora (good bacteria and beneficial yeast). Microflora play an important role in conquering pathogenic viruses, bacteria and yeast. This is Mother Nature’s way of really “vaccinating” your child and building her immunity so she can live safely in this world. (More info on this HERE)
You can start introducing ferments to baby from as young as a few days old, simply by dipping your finger in your sauerkraut liquid and letting baby suck your finger or by offering baby a spoonful of coconut kefir watered down with cooled boiled filtered water. Gradually introduce baby to ferments by starting out with a teaspoon a day working up to 1/3 cup a day by 10 months. My 10 month old has three tablespoons of cultured coconut yogurt and watered down coconut kefir everyday, he loves it! We buy our coconut yogurt and coconut kefir cultures from HERE
Easy to digest and digestion assisting foods:
As I mentioned above bone broth and bananas are excellent easily digestible foods with both supporting the digestive system. Bone broth is super easy to incorporate in babies diet, simply by adding to meat and vegetable purées or offering as a drink in between meals. See our recipe for chicken bone broth HERE Bananas are great for adding to fruit smashes, my bubs loves mashed banana mixed with cultured coconut yogurt and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Good fats, animal fats, cholesterol rich and nutrient dense foods:
-Coconut oil provides medium chain saturated fats just like those found in breastmilk. You can add a teaspoon of coconut oil to fruit smash or smoothies and even offer a teaspoon strait from the spoon.
-Liver supplies needed iron—which drops considerably around six months of age—plus vitamins B12, B6, A and C, and almost every mineral baby needs. Preferably raw, organic liver from grass-fed cows, although even cooked liver has its benefits. Small amounts of grated, raw organic liver may be added to egg yolk after six months. Liver is rich in iron, the one mineral that tends to be low in breastmilk. I find it handy to always have frozen liver in the freezer (frozen for more than 14 days) and simply grate it frozen strait into the meal.
-Bone marrow, rich in minerals and extremely high in “fat-soluble activators.” Minerals are the nutrients most people are familiar with—such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and iodine—that play many roles in building a beautiful, fully-developed body and maintaining its function throughout life. Bone marrow has to be the most overlooked, simple, nutrient dense food there is. It’s so quick and easy to prepare. Simply roast marrow bones cut length ways in the oven for 10min and scoop out the yummy soft creamy marrow. You can offer the marrow to baby as is, mixed with bone broth or mixed through meat and vegetable purées.
– Egg yolks from pastured hens contain the special long-chain fatty acids and cholesterol so critical for the optimal development of the brain and nervous system. Simply boil an egg, cut in half and remove the soft cooked yolk, or crack an egg, separate the yolk from the white, fry quickly in coconut oil. My 10 month old loves an egg yolk omlet with finely diced, free rage, nitrate free ham or bacon. I slice the omelet up into bite size pieces and he self feeds.
-Avocado, a wonderful “good fat” food for babies brain and physical development. Packed full of nutrients. Avocados are an excellent source of unsaturated fats, which are known to be important for normal growth and development of the central nervous system and brain. Check out our recipe for eggycardo mousse HERE
-Wild caught salmon, Babies need the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish for brain, nerve and eye development. Most children don’t get enough, especially when they switch from breastmilk or formula to solid food. One of the better options for fish in terms of both nutrition and health risks is wild sockeye salmon. This is a type of wild salmon, not a farmed Atlantic salmon. Classified as an oily fish, Wild Sockeye salmon is considered to be very healthy due to it’s high protien, high Omega-3 fatty acids and high vitamin D content. We buy our wild sockeye salmon from HERE. You can add wild caught salmon to vegetable purées or my bubs favorite is blitzed up with bone broth for a yummy soup.
As I mentioned above, fermented foods are crucial to insuring proper balance of beneficial microflora. Incorporate fermented foods by adding sauerkraut liquid to warm (not hot as it will kill the good Bacteria) meat and vegetable purées, adding cultured coconut yogurt to fruit smashes, smoothies or serve as is and offering coconut kefir watered down as a drink in between meals.
So in summery, when considering what to include in baby’s meals throughout the day I ensure all foods in each meal are easy to digest, I provide a meal which is nutrient dense and rich in good fats and healthy cholesterol, I provide a meal which includes bone broth, and I provide a meal containing fermented foods. I also offer bone broth and watered down kefir as drinks as well as plain water.
It’s important to note that for breastfed babies under 1 always offer breastmilk first before solids or any extra drinks. Breastmilk contains everything your baby needs.
Baby led weaning was not for us, for a few reasons, but I do offer bubs opportunities to self feed with foods like diced up yolk omelette or celery sticks with pate smoothed into the crevasse as well as fruit and vegetable sticks.
We use all organic produce and grass fed/finished free range meat for our whole family including baby.
Starting solids is an exciting time for both baby and parents. Choosing the right foods for baby can often be a worry for Mums and Dads, this post outlines my view and what works for us, I hope it offers some ideas and inspiration for your little Paleo baby’s journey with real food xxx