I have always had an interest in nutrition, natural nutrition to be specific. I devoured any book on the subject and completed a diploma in Natural Health and Nutrition through Mary-Ann Shearer . I would have loved to have studied further on the subject - and may just do so some day. So, when it came to starting solids with my son, I knew exactly what food would be a perfect first food.
Many mothers are tempted and indeed given the advice of starting their baby on solids so that he may sleep through the night. Breastfed babies are not meant to sleep through the night. Starting solids too early may lead to a vast array of complications later on in life ranging from food allergies to diabetes. See more on this subject in my post on when is the best time to start solids.
Not only do I feel that babies are put on to solids too early, there are also some crazy choices that parents make as first foods. Babies have immature digestive systems and cannot chew properly until around 2 years old. Complex carbohydrates and proteins require chewing to start the digestive process off. Feeding your babies these foods means that they are not digested properly and ferment in the digestive tract.
"By-products of fermentation are alcohol, acetic acid and ammonia, all of which can result in nappy rash, foul gas and stools, cramping, mucus, irritability and failure to thrive." (Healthy Kids, The Natural Way by Mary-Ann Shearer and Charlotte Meschede)But, don;t despair, after your baby has shown all the signs of readiness to start solids, there is a perfect food to start with, a food that is closest in its nutrient composition to mothers milk... and this is fruit. A food with all the protein and starch broken down into easily absorbable amino acids and glucose molecules, full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and many other valuable nutrients. Uncooked, ripe fruit meets most of your young child’s nutrient requirements. Babies love eating fruit as it is naturally sweet, just like mother’s milk.
After much research I have discovered that fruit is the only food your baby will need until they are two years old (As long as you are practicing full term breastfeeding). From here on you may start introducing more complex carbohydrates like carrots, sweet potato and pumpkin. In my opinion rice cereals and other highly refined baby foods have no place in a healthy babies diet. Cereal has become infamous for being "babies first junk food".
Don't feel pressured to stew the fruit before you offer it to your baby, this destroys most of the nutrients, indeed all of the Vitamin C. Raw, fresh, ripe fruit is best. We have to ask, what are we trying to stew out of the fruit? If the fruit is cleaned and peeled where needed it is indeed pure.
The only time fruit is not pure is when it is loaded with pesticides. I do try to buy organic fruit where possible, especially of the following fruit which are known to absorb high amounts of pesticides: (Most soft fruits)
A few things to be aware of when feeding your baby fruit:
- Banana is a great first food as it is soft and sweet. Be sure that the banana is ripe (even over ripe - slightly brown) as it may cause constipation if it is not. Although my son loves banana and has never suffered from constipation.
- Among the most nutritious fruits are: Watermelon, Apricots, Avocado, Apples, Cantaloupe, Kiwi Fruit, Guava, Paw paw (Papaya) and Strawberries.
- Avoid large amounts of citrus fruit as it may cause nappy rash.
- With round fruit, such as grapes and blueberries, squash the fruit to prevent chocking.
If you keep your babies diet as natural as possible, glowing health and unhampered development will be your reward!