Proper infant nutrition at its most powerful relies on nutrient-packed, whole foods. No additional nutrients are needed. In addition, the timing of the introduction of foods, and the way you do it, is a huge influence on the healthy (or unhealthy) development of the child.
For example, many popular beliefs such as using rice cereal as a first food actually work against the child.
Parents have great power to set up their baby to desire and enjoy foods that support life, or foods that set up the child for a lifetime of disease, obesity, and addiction.
Stage One: Breastfeeding
Breastfeed for as long as baby wants. Your baby follows nature’s timer. Breast milk does many unique things to prepare baby’s digestive track and immune system to be able to eat foods. Many nutrients extremely important to the baby come only through breast milk and formula is actually damaging. If you do you have not enough breast milk, this article may help.
Dangers of introducing solids incorrectly
Introducing solid foods poorly (or giving baby formula) can incline the baby to prefer sweet, processed, and unhealthy foods, steering the child’s metabolism towards obesity and diabetes. It also increases inflammation which skews the immune system, making it not effective in some ways, and supercharged in other ways, potentially causing autoimmune issues.
This means you could give a baby a food overflowing with great nutrients, but give it too early. You could give poor quality baby food from store shelves, and teach baby to desire harmful foods for life.
Keep in mind that until the last hundred years or so, babies nursed for very long times. For their bodies and minds, this is normal.
Guidelines for Introducing Foods
Proper nutrition continues with a child-led introduction of real food. This begins between six and twelve months.
Following the child’s lead means learning to recognize the baby’s signals. Resistance should be interpreted as a sign that it’s not time yet.
Signs of baby’s readiness to eat solid food:
An infant will gravitate to foods with proper infant nutrition when he or she is ready, as long as the foods offered are all whole foods and not tainted with added sugars. When we offer processed foods or those with added sugars, we confuse baby’s natural inner guidance.
Click to learn why cow’s milk does NOT provide proper infant nutrition.
A child who is ready to eat does not need to be spoon fed once they have a sufficient reach and pincer grasp to get the food. Most babies don’t need you to puree the food, though mashing may be helpful.
Model the eating behavior you want baby to follow. Introduce one new food at a time.
Observe for reactions such as sneezing, runny nose, eczema, skin rashes, rash around the mouth or diaper area, changes in stools, changes in personality, spitting up. If you notice any of these, wait to offer that particular food again for another month.
It may take 10 to 15 times before a new food is accepted. That’s OK!
The Family Plate
Once a food is accepted and you know it’s tolerated, just feed the baby what the family is having. As long as your diet is based in whole foods (nuts and seeds, lots of vegetables, clean meats, pastured eggs, etc.), you will be providing proper infant nutrition and teaching your kids to eat healthy.
You can add spice and seasoning as you would for yourself.
The baby’s food should be fresh, ideally local, organic, and for animal products, pastured and grass-fed/grass-finished. Just for starters, such food has healthier oils, a richer nutrient profile, and far fewer poisons.
Jarred, boxed, canned or otherwise packaged food is of low nutrient value, devitalized, old and processed. Just as you would not make a regular habit of eating packaged foods, so baby should not be fed such things.
The abundance of packaged “baby foods” in both conventional and natural food markets is nothing more than a ploy to increase the profits of food companies. The food is NOT nutritious. Avoid them.
Some good information on proper infant nutrition, but note she suggests very specific foods. For example, grass-fed meat is usually not available at the grocery store, but in a health food store.
Homemade baby food