Weaning babies without grains is a very old, traditional way to wean. Baby rice is a very new invention when compared to the age of the human race. We have been weaning babies without grains for millennia, and for good reasons as it turns out! Here is how I got to the point of grain free weaning with my children:
My babies have all had different diets right from the start.
Our first baby: We were first time parents and I had almost no milk – she was admitted to the hospital at 3 days old severely dehydrated and her jaundice levels were almost off the chart – she was supplemented with formula.
My second baby: Had both breast and formula right from the start but I managed to exclusively breast feed for 4-18 weeks before again drying up and needing formula.
Number 3 baby: We made our own goat’s milk formula and I used this in a bottle and breastfed until he was 15 months. We also weaned him grain free.
We largely try to follow a whole foods / Weston Price / Paleo-esque style diet, which sounds very fancy, but really it is based on real food.
For the most part, it is grain free, or at least all the grains that are ingested are soaked or sprouted first.
Over half what is available to buy in stores these days were not around in our grandparents day, if they don’t recognize it as food, we try to avoid eating it.
We aren’t super strict about it, we try and follow the 80/20 rule ie be good 80% of the time and have an allowance for variation the other 20%.
This leads on to weaning our baby. Why would whole food, natural eating family then choose to wean baby on ultra processed infant cereal?
It doesn’t make any sense to me. Babies are designed to be grain free until they are at least one year of age.
Why Grain Free weaning?
In the article Feeding Babies, Sally Fallon and Mary Enig (both of the Weston A. Price Foundation) wrote,
“Babies produce only small amounts of amylase, needed for the digestion of grains, and are not fully equipped to handle cereals, especially wheat, before the age of one year. (Some experts prohibit all grains before the age of two.) Baby’s small intestine mostly produces one enzyme for carbohydrates—lactase, for the digestion of lactose. Many doctors have warned that feeding cereal grains too early can lead to grain allergies later on. Baby’s earliest solid foods should be animal foods as his digestive system, although immature, is better equipped to supply enzymes for digestion of fats and proteins rather than carbohydrates.”
Undigested grains can wreak havoc on your baby’s intestinal lining. It can throw off the balance of bacteria in their gut and lead to lots of complications as they age including: food allergies, behavioral problems, mood issues, and more. Being grain free for the first year or two can help avoid these issues.
Also, while you are filling baby’s belly up with foods they can’t digest you are taking up room that could have been filled by nutrient dense and useful foods like fruits, vegetables, fats and protein.
These foods have a much higher nutrient content than grains and less chance of an allergic response.
Unfortunately, the convenient jar baby food on grocery store shelves doesn’t have anywhere near the nutrients of fresh steamed and pureed food.
But presuming that you also are eating vegetables with your dinner, surely it cannot be too difficult to pop a little extra into a pot to steam for baby too? We do this most nights, keeping a little in a container in the fridge for the next day’s lunch.
You can freeze small amounts into ice cube trays, and then store in the freezer. Once baby is eating more I find that a silicon muffin tin is the perfect tool for this job, you can make up individual serves of fish pie or cottage pie etc in these.
Natural First Food Ideas
Soft cooked egg yolks make amazing first foods – grab some pasture raised eggs, separate the yolk and pop the yolk whole into a pot of simmering water for a couple of minutes and simply mash and serve – a meal packed full of vitamins, fats and protein (egg whites are best avoided until around one year old due to high allergenic potential).
Avocado is another fantastic first food, with avocado and very ripe banana being a popular combo.
We did a mixture of pureed veges or fruit along side the idea of Baby Lead Weaning. Baby Lead Weaning states that foods don’t even need to be pureed.
Once your baby is 6 months old (the earliest you should introduce solids anyway), you can just cook vegetables until soft, cut into small pieces and put in front of the baby.
Our little man also enjoyed a little whole milk yogurt mixed with ripe banana or strawberries, yogurt is full of good probiotics and has a lower level of lactose in it due to the action of the good bacteria.
The more sour the yogurt is, the lower the lactose (milk sugar). Babies have the ability to make lactase, the enzyme needed to digest lactose, most people loose this ability between the ages of 3 and 5, some lucky ducks have the gene that allows them to happily digest milk into adulthood.
Other great first foods are sweet potato, winter squash/pumpkin, carrot, asparagus, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, parsnip, swede, spinach, greens, or green beans.
Weaning Babies Without Grains can be a little controversial, as we are told that babies NEED baby rice (for whatever reason). What did you start your baby on? Let us know in the comments below!
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