My perspective about life is that it is a classroom and every day we are presented with curriculum on the art of being human.
While I have firsthand knowledge of the dietary principles we recommend, having integregrated them into how I live day to day since 2004, I am not a mother. I haven’t given birth, breastfed, or nourished a child through the years.
Yesterday, I learned a fair amount from what appeared to be mainly mothers who commented in the aftermath of my post on Baby’s First Foods – When and What, in addition to Ann Marie Michaels post When to Feed Baby: Why Start Solids at 4 to 6 Months published on her Cheeseslave blog.
While I interpreted some of the feedback directed at Ann Marie as harsh and challenging for me to read, I took away the following I wanted to share:
While cereal is the most often recommended early weaning food, no one seemed to protest that we recommended egg yolk, liver and cod liver oil instead. The debate seemed to be centered on when.
Development vs. Calendar
One mother commented, “I would really like to stress that one should watch the baby, not the calendar.” From the feedback I read on Facebook and in the comments on the two posts, it is clear to me that some babies are ready for solids as early as 4 months and some are not really in earnest until one year. They simply aren’t interested or physically prepared. Some vomited the recommend pastured egg yolks they were given time and again, and only in their own time were ready to receive them … and even ask for them as they grew! So perhaps it would behove us to recommend that parents be aware that babies may be ready as early as 4 months, but that for some the recommendation to introduce solids at 6 months is simply not appropriate because baby isn’t ready or willing. I like the notion of recommending that babies be introduced to solids such as egg yolk, liver and cod liver oil by 6 months, but if they aren’t ready, they aren’t ready. Just honor that and try again in a week or two … or more, for some it was months. All along, mothers are encouraged to follow this Recommended Diet for Pregnant and Nursing Mothers.
These comments by Terese in response to the post published by Cheeseslave resonated with me.
“I’m just going to chime in here and say that there is no way that one way of doing things is going to fit all children. So there is no way that everyone is going to agree with this post. This method of feeding does work, just perhaps not for all children. This is why it’s is utterly important to know your child and watch and see if they are giving you cues that they need more in their diet or if they are content and growing happily with breast milk. Breast milk quality is not the same for everyone, so no one can claim that all children would be fine with breast milk only. Both of my children showed very strong desires to want to eat solids by 4 months of age. My daughter would even try to feed herself by 6 months. I nursed them and then gave them an egg yolk as well (and cod liver oil I believe around 6 months). They were both more content, slept better and even put on more weight, which is something that they needed. I eat a very healthy, whole foods, from scratch diet, but nursing has been hard. I didn’t want to supplement with homemade formula because I wanted to keep my own supply up as high as possible. The little bit of extra calories and nutrients they received from the egg yolk made a big different in them both.”
In a question I posed on Facebook, avocado proved to be the most popular first food, followed by our recommended egg yolk. So, I looked it up as a baby food and found this:
Dr. William Sears (1988) notes that avocado is “one of the first fresh fruits a baby can enjoy.” It is a time-saver, served raw. “Low in sodium and cholesterol-free, avocados contain [many] valuable nutrients “. For example, “Ounce for ounce, avocados contain more potassium than 45 other fruits, juices or vegetables… and they are one of the only fruits or vegetables which contain monounsaturated fats, essential for baby’s development.”
In an interview with the California Grower (October, 1989), Dr. Sears stated, “When you think about it, …avocados are an ideal first food for infants. Avocados have a delicate flavor and a smooth, creamy consistency which makes them a perfect food for babies. …Avocados provide infants with more vitamin B1 B2 niacin, folacin, potassium and magnesium per 1 5 gram serving than any of the other frequently recommended fruits and vegetables [and are second to the highest in several other vitamins and minerals.]” Source
Lastly, as a point of clarification, I would like to address what I perceived as an accusation: Sally Fallon Morell, the Weston A. Price Foundation, and our own educational initiative by extension, is not against breastfeeding. Sally’s homemade baby formulas were created for those who don’t have enough milk, or don’t have it as long as they hoped … or have adopted a child. I have heard from a fair number of women who report that their babies thrived on these formulas. Sally did breastfeed herself and you can read about her own experience here: A Breastfeeding Saga
Also, we know that the quality of a cow’s milk is greatly impacted by her diet and lifestyle. Whether a cow is on pasture eating green grass as she is designed to or in confinement eating grains such as corn and soy, which is an unnatural diet for a cow, will impact the nutrient density of her milk. Vitamins A and D will not be in the butter, cream and organ meats unless these animals are on pasture in the sunlight and eating green grass. As soon as animals are put in confinement, and given hay and dry feed, vitamins A and D disappear from the butterfat, and the levels begin to decline in the organ meats. The quality of a woman’s milk is similarly impacted by her diet, so we recommend that women consume a nutrient dense diet, as outlined here: Recommended Diet for Pregnant and Nursing Mothers
Update December 16, 2011 – This is a wonderful follow up article: When Should Baby Start With Solids by Heather Dessinger of Mommypotamus.
I highly recommend reading these books by Sally Fallon: Nourishing Traditions and Nourishing Traditions Book for Baby and Child Care. You can buy these via our Amazon affiliation.