Monday, August 29, 2011

The Best First Food for Baby

This post has moved to my new blog.

I am sorry for the extra click!! Please find it here.


  1. that's how we fed ours as babies, natural and raw.

  2. Great advice! I'm a big fan of breastfeeding and making sure babies display ALL signs of readiness before beginning solids.

    Thank you for linking up at Green & Natural Mamas Thursday again!

  3. I have been meaning to come back and read this post since I first started following you, so I'm glad it was on today's list! We started with fresh fruits and veggies and were glad that we did. This is great info! :)

  4. There is so much conflicting information out there. It can get confusing for new parents. But this makes sense to me. It's hard to go wrong with whole foods,eh?

  5. I'm surprised by what you say about finding from research that a breastfed baby won't need anything else but fruit until age 2. Could you tell me where you get this from? From the figures I've seen, this wouldn't seem to provide enough protein, calcium, or iron.

  6. Sorry, should give references for what I just said:

    Kellymom says the average amount of milk a breastfed baby drinks, once it reaches its maximum level, is 750 ml/day (obviously there's a lot of variation - that's the average, as I said). In Kyla Steinkraus's article 'Extend Breastfeeding's Benefits', she gives a table for the percentage of a toddler's nutritional needs provided by 448 ml of breastmilk. From that table, it looks as though 750 ml of breastmilk would still leave a toddler short of protein and calcium.

    For the iron, my source was an article by Dewey and Chaparro in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 2007, 66(3) pages 412 - 22, titled 'Mineral status and body composition - iron status of breastfed infants', in which they calculate how long it would take infants to use up the iron stores they're born with, while absorbing the amount of iron that an exclusively breastfed baby can absorb from breastmilk. It's a very complicated paper with a lot of calculations, so very difficult reading, but what it seems to come down to is that, even given optimum conditions (a full-term baby whose mother had enough iron herself during the pregnancy and whose cord clamping was delayed after birth), a baby getting iron solely from breastmilk would still be running short of iron by just over 8 months. Premature babies, babies whose cords were clamped immediately after birth, and babies whose mothers were low on iron during pregnancy (which is extremely common) would run out and need other sources earlier. So I just don't see how a child could last on only breastmilk and fruit for two years without running badly short of iron.

    As I said, if you've read research showing something different, I would love to hear about it.

  7. @Melissa - Thanks for visiting :)

    @Erica@ ChildOrganics - I agree, although fruit is pretty common sense and fitted with my gut feeling... so we went with that with great success :)

  8. @SarahV : Thanks so much for your comment, I will definitely check our your references :)
    I will gladly supply my reading list, please allow me a bit of time to get all my links together and respond appropriately as I am enjoying Christmas with my family. Merry Christmas!

  9. Thanks - I'll look forward to that. Merry Christmas to you too!

  10. what if one was unable to continue breastfeeding...then what? Does this raw, fresh, organic, fruit-only diet not apply to a child? What and when do you suggest they start on then?
    Thanks for the post and information; it saddens me about not being able to breastfeed (which I am a strong advocate for) but what's the next best alternative diet & when?

  11. @anangel44

    What a good question.

    A high fruit diet is the best for any child regardless of whether they are breastfed or not, however you will need to supplement your childs diet as formula does not quite contain all the nutrients they require. I could provide a better answer with more info if you would like to email me at africanbabiesdontcry {at}, starting with how old you child is.

  12. Which nutrients are in breastmilk and not in formula?


    Hi Sarah

    Here are the results of one fascinating study documenting the ingredients in breastmilk as opposed to formula:

    I also haven't forgotten, or am not ignoring your first question. I am still,unfortunately, on holiday and do not have all my reference books with me. However, in the interim, most of my nutritional philosophy comes from Mary-Anne Shearer (who I link to in the post) and I have emailed her your query. I hope she replies sooner than it takes me to go home and get my books :)

  14. @sarav
    Hi Sarah
    Thank you for your patience, I eventually got my husband to send me all my reference books and notes.
    You expressed concern that a child would not receive adequate protein, calcium and iron on a diet of fruit and breast milk.
    Thank you for asking this question, I enjoyed going back to my reference books and study notes to formulate a reply to squash your fears. I studied nutrition under Mary-Anne Shearer and most of my views are from her books. The reason I advocate her teachings is because her nutritional philosophy sits well with my views, and has worked well for me and my family. One just needs to look at the glowing health of my son for proof. However, each individual needs to make up their own mind. I am merely trying to help by getting the information out there.
    The reason I push fruit and fruit only as a first food is because it is a complete food. All fruit contains vitamins and minerals (including calcium and iron) which are all in a form which is ready to be absorbed by the human body and disseminated. Protein too is present in its simplest form, amino acids, and ready to be absorbed and disseminated. There is even fat present in fruit, ready to be absorbed and disseminated.
    Breastmilk, too is a complete and perfect food. It is the best start for a baby nutritionally and it is perfectly suited to a baby’s specific growth and development. With breastmilk; babies get fewer infections and if they do become ill they have a quicker recovery rate. Breastmilk also protects babies against the food allergies possible with formula. You cannot match the nutritional quality of breastmilk, nutrients are available in a natural state, unheated and unprocessed.
    Lets first chat about protein.
    All food contains protein, some concentrated and some un-concentrated. Concentrated protein is found in nuts, seeds, cheese, meat and fish. Fruit contains un-concentrated protein.
    A baby has an immature digestive tract so feeding a child concentrated protein or starch before he has a full set of teeth and can chew properly is not only a waste of time and money but is likely to cause problems down the line. Food is not broken down properly and so ferments in the stomach producing by-products such as alcohol. Often incompletely broken down food molecules can be absorbed into the blood stream and because they are foreign to the body they result in an antibody reaction which leads to the development of allergies to a variety of foods, e.g. gluten intolerance. (Healthy Kids – Mary-Anne Shearer & Charlotte Meschedes)
    Protein is made up of 23 amino acids which are the building blocks of all protein in the body. The human body contains an amino acid pool which it draws from and deposits into as it needs and consumes. This pool is found in the blood, liver and cells. Even on a fruit diet, adequate amounts of protein can be supplied.

  15. continued...

    The protein requirements of the human body have been largely over-rated. Most sources state a far too large amount of protein needed. A full grown male actually only needs 60 – 75g per day. One can work out the protein requirements of a child providing 1 g of protein for every 2kg’s of body weight.
    “We need protein mainly for growth and repair and the period that we grow the fastest is during the first six months of our lives, during this time nature has provided us with the most perfect food; mother’s milk. The average percentage of protein in this milk is a mere 1.6% less that any average fruit.” (The Natural Way – Mary-Anne Shearer)
    The danger with protein is in fact not that a diet will not provide enough, but that it provides too much.
    T Colin Campbell performed the most thorough research on human nutrition and documented it in his book The China Study. He noted that consumption of high amounts of protein, especially animal protein, was linked to chronic diseases.
    It is interesting to note that a banana contains all eight essential amino acids. 100g of banana provides 1.3g of protein.
    If you are still worried about adequate protein being provided for your child you may add raw and unsalted nuts and seeds to their diet after one year of age. Raw protein is easier to digest than that from animal products and that which is cooked. 1 or 2 teaspoons finely ground nuts or tahini is sufficient in the beginning.
    Calcium is also found in both fruit and breastmilk.
    “There is about 10mg of calcium in every 30ml of human milk. From 7 -12 months the adequate intake of calcium is determined to be 270mg per day. If your 12 month old is getting nearly 900ml of breast milk a day, she’s certainly getting enough calcium.” (Evie’s Kitchen – Shazzie)
    I realise you pointed out that Kellymom states the average maximum of milk produced per day is 750ml, however, if your child is breastfed on demand, as mine is, 900ml is possible and likely.
    From 1 – 3 years a child will need 500mg of calcium per day. This is not unachievable from a diet of breastmilk and fruit. Figs for example contain 250mg of calcium per 100g.
    However, you do need more calcium if your diet is very acidic (high in refined foods) as the body uses calcium as a buffer against acidity. To combat this eat a diet high in fresh fruit, avoid caffeine (a given for a small child) and protein not more than once a day.
    If you are still worried about a calcium deficiency and your child is showing signs of one (poor teeth) then introduce dark green leafy vegetables into their diet, preferably raw.
    There has been much speculation on iron deficiency in breastfed babies in the media of late. It has become a debate almost equal to the vaccine debate. I feel a mother needs to do her research and make up her own decisions. I, however, agree with the following article on Nourished Kitchen ( and especially like the following paragraph:

  16. continued (2) ...

    “It seems to me that a baby fed from the breasts of a well-nourished mother as nature intended is unlikely to be deficient in such a critical mineral. After all, breastfeeding was the cross-cultural norm for millennia until the middle of the 20th century. How could evolution and nature favor deficiency? Perhaps, instead, our perception of optimal iron levels in infants is skewed.”
    The Canadian standard RDA for iron is particularly high, but if you want to be on the safe side then adhere to it:
    7 – 12 months : 11mg per day via breastmilk and food.
    1 – 3 years : 7mg per day via breastmilk and food.
    As I mentioned above, however, there is iron available in all fruit, a medium banana contains 0.6mg, apricots contain 4.1mg per 100g and figs contain a whopping 4.2mg per 100g.
    If you are still worried about iron levels and suspect anaemia then you can supplement your child’s diet with sea greens such as spirulina. Do not use commercial supplements as these are not easily absorbed and toxicity is possible.
    For interests sake here is the nutritional composition of a banana, as I think we sometimes forget how jam packed fruit is with nutrients:
    For each 100g of banana there is about,
    Protein 1.3g Cholesterol 0
    Fat 0.3g Calcium 2mg
    Iron 0.6mg Magnesium 21 mg
    Phosphorus 20 mg Potassium 241 mg
    Sodium 1 mg Chloride 79 mg
    Zinc 0.23 mg Copper 0.05 mg
    Selenium 1.1 ug (micrograms) Chromium 7.5 ug
    Manganese 310 ug Vitamin A16 ugRe
    Caretenoids 95 ug Vit. E 0.27
    B1 0.03 mg
    B2 0.02
    B3 0.7
    B6 0.3
    Folate ug 19
    Pantothenic acid 0.26
    Biotin 2.6
    Vit C 12
    I hope this settled your fears about a child living on fruit and breastmilk till the age of two. Please feel free to contact me on my email africanbabiesdontcry {at} for further information.

  17. Hi - just wanted to thank you for taking the trouble to look things up, and to let you know I appreciate it. I've been meaning to write a proper reply discussing your points, but haven't had time, so didn't want to let them go unnoticed after all your work. ;-)

    1. Hi Sarah

      Thanks for this, Im looking forward to hearing your thoughts :)

  18. Hi, I just recently ran across this article as I am researching what to feed my 8 month old for the first time. Since it has been a while since this article was published I was wondering if you noticed any problems with too much sugars in the diet?

  19. Hi I just recently ran across your article as I was researching first foods to feed my 8 month old. Since it has been a while since you have written this, I was wondering if you noticed any issues with sugars? I ask because my sister in law fed my nephew mainly fruits as a baby and he has always had a liking to very sugary foods. As a plus though at 14 he still loves fruit!

    1. Hi Krista, I don't allow my son to eat refined sugar, which is very addictive, so I haven't had any problems there. He still loves his fruit, but I don't think this is abnormal for a toddler, and he loves to eat greens, and other veggies too... I don't believe it would set a child up for cravings for sweets and refined foods at all - only eating refined sugar and carbohydrates would do that :)

  20. I've just recently come across your blog and found it an interesting read. Although I disagree with fruit being introduced first, I was pleased to see another anti-rice cereal advocate. There are just not enough people out there doing their own research and really thinking about how quickly we can nourish or screw up our children's digestive system and general health. I'm a real fan of the work of Chris Kresser, author of the Healthy Baby Code, Weston A Price and author Jude Blereau who wrote "wholefood for Children" - do you know much about them?
    The first foods we introduced for our son were 1. egg yolk, 2. liver, 3. fermented cod liver oil, 4. brains, 5. pureed pumpkin, sweet potato, avocado and finally banana. We get a few strange looks from people who think we are pretty 'out there'.
    My research indicated that high fructose diets (fruits) were not ideal for babies/children and even adults. We need to focus on good fats, nutrient dense, super foods - whilst still certainly offering fruits, we need to be careful of their sugar content.
    It's great to find another mum out there who has researched her options and found something that resonates - although we may not agree, there's no question that the wholefoods you are choosing are better than what is currently being suggested.

    1. Hi Max

      Yes, its great to meet another anti-cereal-as-a-first-food mom, even if our views differ slightly :)

      I stand by my research that fruit is the best first food, but also believe that fermented cod liver oil and eggs have a place in the diet, just a bit later on in the child's life, especially if still breastfed and mom's diet is highly nourishing.

      We are vegetarian however, and I feel there are better sources of the vitamins and minerals found in brain and liver than those from animal sources both from a health and humanity perspective.

      I came across this article which shows just how similar our views on nutrition are ;)


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