There is another question about children here, but I wanted to focus more on babies:
We have a 16 month old and we have never done formula or 'baby food'. We have always tried to mash up whatever we were eating. At 16 months he is also still breastfeeding.
As a toddler, does he need 'carbs to grow'? I understand in our world of food abundance and carb abundance that it is all too easy to over do it and start a downward cycle.
We are trying to avoid High Frutcose Corn Syrup and bad fats as much as possible, but should we limit fruits? He seems to love oatmeal, which I thought was fairly low glycemic, but doesn't sound very paleo. We were topping it off with real maple syrup as well, but assume that is right out.
Someone else asked this same question on the PaNu board, but no answer as of yet: PaNu-Kids
Does anyone have experience, a study, research or insight on the best foods to feed children as they transition to solid food? A banana for a snack, Ezekiel bread with peanut butter or pastas are much too easy to prepare and he loves them, but I do not want to start him on the wrong foot or wrong foods.
I also don't want to keep him in constant ketosis if that is not a natural state for an infant, or if he needs sugars or other carbs to fuel his growing body and brain.
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Carol N. Simontacchi, who wrote "The Crazy Makers," suggests breast feeding until 18 months at the shortest and perhaps even until 24 months. You can hear her thoughts on child health at this podcast (the episode titled "The Crazy Makers...").
Read Chapter 18 in Weston A Price's book "Nutrition & Physical Degeneration." It discusses the importance of Vitamins A among others for young children. Based on his research, I would suggest that you start your child on a daily serving of cod liver oil (preferably mixed with a high vitamin raw butter oil) as soon as you begin feeding your child "real" food.
Check out Mark Sisson's post called "The Definitive Guide to Feeding Primal Babies." It'll be super helpful.
If I had it to do all over again, I'd have skipped the rice/wheat baby cereals and just stuck to my homemade baby food - steamed and pureed vegies, meat, fruit. Seems like adequate carbs to support their growing active bodies in just vegies and fruit.
With our first-born, at the pediatrician's repeated insistence we attempted rice cereal at 6 months. He absolutely refused the stuff no matter how we tried preparing it, including with breast milk. After a few days of fighting him, I said this is ridiculous! He doesn't want it, we didn't want to give to him, and I'm not going to battle my son over this because of some stupid pediatrician nagging us.
From time to time we'd offer him some mashed-up bits of our dinner right off the plate. He never showed any interest until Thanksgiving Day (I'll always remember because it was Thanksgiving). He was 9 months then. Today, he will try anything, and even finish eating stuff he doesn't particularly like. In 6 years, rice cereal is really the only food he's ever refused. :-)
We weren't paleo-aware when either of our children were born and generally offered them a balanced diet with as little sugar as reasonable. In fact we still do that, though now that I'm paleo aware, I realize we probably over-do the grains: granola, home-made bread, and flour tortillas. Fortunately, I've always refused to pay for over-priced box cereal and air-filled grocery store bread. Nonetheless, our almost 3 y.o. daughter is a real carb-addict and has a sweet tooth unlike our son ever had. That has me a little concerned.
But to get back on topic, one paleo thing we did was to give 'em meat as soon as they started taking solid food by chewing small pieces ourselves and then passing it to them. All in all, I think anything you'd eat yourself is fine. Pre-chew it if you have to, though smashing it with a fork when practical is my first choice. Stay away from any and all packaged "baby" food. In my experience it is loaded with one type of sugar or another, even the brands marketed as organic and/or healthy.
PS> Yeah, we found a new pediatrician.
You might want to check out Nina Planck's Real Food for Mother and Baby. I wrote a review of it. She basically acknowledges that scientifically, babies don't even have the enzymes to digest grains in their first year at least. The author gives her own baby bread and regrets it because he ends up filling up on it to the exclusion of everything else. I would check that book out since it's the closest to a paleo baby book until someone writes one.
If I had a baby, which I don't so take it with a grain of salt, I would offer things like squash pureed in good bone stock, mini burger patties, creamed spinach, sardines (babies definitely seem to like these more than adults...), and maybe some fruit. Fruit is certainly better than bread, but I would limit it to in season fruit.
Not an expert on this, but my oldest daughter used to feed her babies sliced avocado for snacks which I think is a perfect baby food! Of course the Cheerios are out!
For my own oatmeal, I add a scoop of low carb whey powder, and that may be a good idea too. When I low-carbed and lost about 60 pounds I started to crave oatmeal and I figured I'd raise the protein content to make it worthwhile. Also, I used cream instead of 1% milk like before the diet.
I breast fed all four of my kids until at least 6 months- one lasted over a year. I just went with what seemed right for each child.
And to add a helpful tool: link text to help turn your food into baby food. (Saves you money, too.)
Great blog post & results here: http://hawaiianlibertarian.blogspot.com/2011/05/paleo-baby.html
Kids are frequently going through periods of rapid growth, so it makes sense to me that they would have a higher carbohydrate need than a "normal" adult seeking homeostasis. That being said, I feel that it is our responsibility as parents to give our children the best start in life, and to avoid setting them up for a lifetime of food preferences, and even addictions, that they must overcome in order to make healthy choices. Do you think sugar or trans-fat is good for you? If not, how could it possibly be OK for your growing child!?
I have two children, about 1 year and about 3, and I am working with the three year old to let go of grains from his diet. My experience with him has been that he couldn't even begin to digest grains well until after his first birthday, and even now, he doesn't do well with them. I have made an effort to offer him carbohydrates as he wants them, but fruit is also not unlimited in our house; natural sugar is still sugar!
I offer fat and protein first, then carbs (squash, veggies, sweet potato pancakes are popular) if he is still hungry or if he asks for them. The youngest has never had grains but clearly loves sweet potato, squash, and meat, and gets all he wants of each.
The bottom line: if we make an effort to offer our children only healthful, nutritious foods, they will make the choices that are right for them in each stage of development.
I'm not a mom but I thought this sounded like a pretty paleo friendly approach to weaning.
La Leche League suggests meat as a first food. That's what I went with. Our naturopath suggested starting kids on iron rich veggies like broccoli and asparagus. I never gave my kids baby food. They just ate what we ate. An interesting resource is "My child won't eat" by Carlos Gonzalez. He is from the EU and talks about all different cultures and how they start their babies eating. There's a pretty wide spectrum.
We don't restrict our kids access to carbs, we just restrict the types of carbs. Fruit and veggies, great. Grains, only soaked, sprouted or sourdough and in limited amounts. I'd be happier if they weren't eating any grains but I'm hoping to wean them off them gradually.
This is a very good question. I breast fed both my children until they were 3 years old - after all breast milk is a complete food. There is absolutely no reason why you cannot start them on the food that you are eating after 6 months of age, or when they have at least four teeth and if that food is meat based with no carbs, so be it.....
Traditional societies would not have made up baby food for babies especially, they would have chewed their food and given them pieces when they showed the interest. This is what I did! I am highly gluten intolerant, so I held back on the carbs for a long long time with my kids, they probably began to eat them when they were well over 18 months old. They had great nutrition and had no worries at all with their growth - interestingly enough, as soon as my eldest went onto carbs she developed problems with her hearing and mucous build up, so at around three years old, I switched from pasteurized to raw milk and took her off carbs. She no longer has colds during the winter and is snot-free.
I think it is something you should seriously think about and I do not think that keeping your baby off carbs will do her any harm, it will be, I believe beneficial in the long run.
Cod liver oil and raw milk/butter (if you can find it), as mentioned above, is a must, go to westonaprice.org for more research on these two foods.
On the "does a toddler need carbs to grow?" question. I think you'd do well to think of toddlers in terms of the contrast between highly active and sedentary adults, i.e. they don't have any totally unique "needs," but they'll be able to handle and indeed potentially flourish on a higher carb level*. Breast milk is pretty carby after all. I think you're certainly right to think that oats and maple syrup would not be ideal, not because of the carb, but since they may as well eat something that doesn't contain any anti-nutrients and does contain micronutrients. Likewise with fruit, don't worry about it for the carbohydrate's or the GI's sake, but if he's getting his carbohydrate exclusively from fruit it'll be a lot of fructose. I'd have thought veg like carrot (pureed as necessary) or sweet potato would be cheap/easy/nutritionally best. Not that there's any reason why he shouldn't have more nutritious/less carby vegetables too, so long as they're getting adequate calories elsewhere.
*Certainly if I were growing as quickly as a toddler as a result of my workout I'd feel justified in eating some sweet potato!