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Health, Home, and Happiness: Introducing Solids This time 'round

Monday, June 29, 2009

Introducing Solids This time 'round

Sources: Bib is made by me, bowl is a custard cup my mom gave me years ago, cup is from Down To Earth Toys, spoon from Organic Grace

With my first, I know we have food allergies in my family so I waited until she was a year to introduce solids. Then I introduced plain steamed non-allergenic veggies, cut in soft chunks so she could self regulate and feed herself. I did it pretty much as described on She didn't like them, but she loved my food that had a little bit of salt and fat in it. Go figure. I asked around a little bit, and discovered that babies do need salt. So I started actually seasoning her food (she pretty much just ate what we ate, with a few exceptions) and she started liking it.

With her we did wait to introduce grains til 18 months as suggested by our doctor. I'm not able to find a whole lot of documented information, but there are suggestions that babies don't make the enzymes necessary to digest grains (amylase I think). And by watching the 'output' in her diaper, it was apparent that this is true. You can learn a lot about what babies digest and don't by watching their output. I babysat a family who really were trying to do the right thing, they were vegetarian and gave their young toddlers lots and lots of whole grain cereal. Those babies (they were twins) constantly had sunken looking eyes, and full full diapers not long after their meals. Their food passed through them barely digested. In hind sight, I see the reason, but I didn't know then so we just figured that was how their bodies were.

So, remembering this and armed with the knowledge our doctor gave us, I did cautiously give Hannah some rice, oatmeal, and whole wheat bread, and watched for what happened. There was evidence that she didn't digest any of it well until somewhere between 18 months and 2 years. I'd expect that the exact age is dependant on genetics. Now that she's older, she doesn't have any problems with grains at all.

Our doctor also suggests only giving a baby under 12 months meat if you pre-chew it for them, so the enzymes in your saliva start to work on digestion for them. Since we don't start solids til a year anyway, this isn't relevant to us.

We avoid milk products as long as possible too, I think I avoided even butter with my first until she was 18 months. She still shows the same allergy I have (gets sinus infections and some other allergic symptoms from milk products in too big of a quantity), so I'm not sure if holding off on the milk helped her or not. My son is very sensitive to any milk I have in my diet that he gets through my milk, so I'm guessing he'll be more sensitive than my daughter is. We'll see.

We avoided nuts until near 2 years, but that was more because of lack of teeth. I was a little nervous about peanuts/peanut butter with my first, but it wasn't an issue. If we had a history of peanut allergy I think I'd wait until 5 or so.

Both my babies haven't shown any 'need' to start solids earlier than 12 months either. My son is 7 months and is 95th percentile for his weight. He was around 11 lbs when he was born, and is still growing and thriving on just my milk alone.

This time around I'll go right into the seasoned foods, salted to taste with sea salt. We'll hold off on grains again and see how they go at 18 months. I'll continue nursing for about 24 months. With my daughter, I nursed her until she was 27 months- her brother was born when she was 26 months and I wanted to not make two big transitions at once, so I waited and saw how she adjusted to the new baby (she was fine) and then was pretty matter of fact about it and it wasn't an issue. If it had been, I would have just nursed her a little longer.

So, you say, without grains or milk, what will you feed the child? I'm not really on top of things enough to do seperate meals, pureed food, or anything like that for my kids, so I try to just incorperate one or two things into the main meal that are grain and dairy free. Some suggestions:

Mashed potatoes with chicken stock, the fat from the chicken stock, and sea salt
Cooked veggies with coconut cream and salt
Meat. I usually shredded it to prevent choking if it's not ground beef/turkey.
Scrambled eggs
Taco meat- just don't do the tortilla and rice on taco night
Ground beef and avacado was a favorite for a while
Potato salad

The only time I have trouble is if we're eating something that's mostly starch for dinner. But we really shouldn't be doing that anyway. If I do, though, I just pulled out something that was leftover for the baby.

With our next baby I might consider doing Sally Fallon's recommendation of a lightly cooked egg yolk a day starting at 4 months, but I'm kind of wary about that since my babies seem to do so well on human milk alone. I'm still thinking about it.

If there's something I didn't cover, feel free to ask. None of this is scientific, but just is based on what has worked for us in the past.

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Blogger Emily said...

it's interesting to read other mother's ways of starting solid food. lately i have stumbled upon your blog and another lovely blog www. where both of the authors explained they are waiting until 1 year to intro solids. i am so confused by the info out there on this. i read a recent study that found that it actually prevents allergies to intro solids prior to 6 months and as early as 4 months, even gluten containing grains! and then there is the other side which is more like your plan to wait until 1 year until baby has more developed intestines and enzyme secretion, ect.

my baby is 7 months and eats a tiny bit of food a day, like a few spoons of sheeps milk yogurt or a raspberry, mango, mashed banana ect.

i have also read online and in books about the whole self-feeding thing. well, a 7 month old will choke on lots of the supposedly safe-to-self-feed foods. so...
long story short, how does one figure out the real truth here?

July 1, 2009 at 8:08 PM  
Blogger Cara said...

Emily, I totally know what you mean about all the conflicting information. I try to do the best I can to see how people in less developed cultures do things in this case, since they're not as influenced by the media (and Gerber!) as we are, you know? Then the whole looking at the contents of their diapers and really watching how they reacted to what I think helped, but of course it's a decision that each family has to make for themselves.

As far as choking, we do the 'no spoon feeding' thing too, just soft chunks. But no nuts, and grapes were quartered for a while. We had some gagging as she learned what did what, but no actual choking.

July 1, 2009 at 8:16 PM  
Blogger Kelly the Kitchen Kop said...

Emily, what I do when trying to figure out the truth with all the conflicting information is like what Cara said, think about how traditional cultures (who are more healthy than we are) feed their children. I also just think common sense: mother's milk is the perfect food God created, so surely waiting on solids couldn't be harmful.

Cara, thanks for joining in on Real Food Wednesday!


July 2, 2009 at 6:37 AM  

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