The outdated methods for baby’s first food are proving to be quite harmful. For starters early exposure to food or the first food tasted by babies can set an unhealthy preference early on.
Rice cereal is highly refined, all of the nutrients are processed out, leaving behind sugar. By the time the cereal is absorbed in the intestine it is 100% glucose. This feeding of sugar to the baby can create a hard-wired preference for sweets.
Secondly, rice is a grain, albeit rice cereal has most everything stripped out of it, but the human body still needs to produce an enzyme called amylase to digest it. Amylase is produced in saliva and in the pancreas and it is responsible for splitting starches. Infants do not produce this enzyme in sufficient quantities to digest rice cereal properly. The improperly digested starches can pass through the lining of the gut, throw of the bacterial balance in their gut, which can lead to a slew of food allergies, behavioral problems, mood issues, and more.
The potential for you baby to develop a preference for sweets and develop food allergies and behavioral problems is enough to deter most parents from choosing rice cereal as a first food. But if you are locked into an ingrained tradition of feeding your baby rice cereal, maybe the fact that it can increase their risk of certain cancers due to the high levels of arsenic found in baby rice cereal will be enough to dissuade you from carrying on this unhealthy habit.
So now that the rice cereal paradigm has been blown apart, what can we feed baby? Well we can simply look at what babies need and that is fat. 50% of the calories in mother’s milk come from saturated fat in order to grow their brains, nervous system and cell membranes. If your baby isn’t showing interest in food, don’t force it on them. They are fine with breast milk. However if baby starts to show an interest in what you are eating then you can start seeking out a source for pastured chicken eggs.
Eggs you say? Yes eggs, not the eggs produced in the food industrial complex factory chicken prisons, but free range pastured chickens; more specifically free range pastured chickens supplemented with organic flax seed to boost fatty acid content within the yolk. Feeding your baby n-3 fatty acid enriched egg yolks is shown to increase dietary DHA as well as boosting iron during the weaning period.
An important note here is to make sure the yolk is fully cooked and completely separated from the albumin. While egg allergies to the yolk are very rare, it is the proteins in the whites, ovomucoid, ovalbumin, ovotransfferin and lysozyme that cause reactions. In particular, the protein ovalbumin, is the major allergen and it makes up fifty percent of an egg white.
To prepare the yolk, simply boil the egg until the yolk is soft and warm, not runny. Next separate the white and the yolk, paying close attention to remove ALL the white. Then mash up the yolk with breast milk or formula and feed to baby. As with all baby foods you should apply a grace period after introducing them in order to watch for a possible reaction.
Taking interest in your baby’s diet is the first step to a healthy childhood.
Let’s face it, even the best organic baby food on the market is still not as good as buying local, or growing your own. It should come as no surprise that homegrown and home prepared trumps the factory processing and synthetic fortifying of the store bought baby foods. Not to mention the sheer waste and chemical footprint left behind by the packaging of baby foods.
In America alone, the baby food industry pulls in about $1.25 billion a year, while simultaneously filling landfills with 2 billion empty baby food jars and packages. Take the fact that the lids of baby food jars, along with the other clever packaging, leach BPA into the food and you should now be ready to get onboard the DIY baby food system.
Making your own baby food is a fun and rewarding experience. With the proper knowledge you can streamline the process and make baby food like a professional.
First things first, nutrition. Remember you are making your own baby food because you want your baby to have the healthiest and most vitamin packed food possible. This starts with buying or growing wholesome organic, or beyond organic foods. Buying or growing the best foods is crucial, but keeping the nutrients in is also key. Removing all of the nutrients in the food by overcooking is to be avoided at all costs.
Important rule: only cook at a temperature that will soften the food, not boil the nutrients out; slowly bring the temperature up and then let it level out while softening the food.
There are a myriad of online resources and recipes for making your own baby food. So what we’ll cover here are some basics.
- The nutrients will cook out into the water no matter what, so to add them back to the baby food, pour some of the liquid into the food processor as you go. This will also tend to soften up the food a bit; pureed sweat potatoes with no water could be a bit too tough for young baby to swallow.
- If you are going to use apples or pears, remember that many of the minerals and vitamins are contained in, or lie just below the skin, so it is best to cook these with the skin on. A $25 food mill is a great investment to separate the cooked apples or pears from their unpalatable and difficult to chew parts later, while still allowing the fruit to cook in its own nutrient dense liquid.
- Purchasing about a dozen ice cube trays will allow you to cook a large amount at a time. There are stainless and silicone versions of ice cube trays available to avoid any potential BPA exposure.
- A good food processor goes a long way. Make sure you have one that can handle the heat of the freshly cooked food and will puree it all without leaving behind chunks for baby to gag on.
- The speed filler. This part is fun, it will make you feel like a 1 person factory. Allow the food to cool and then pour the pureed food into a storage bag and cut the corner off on one side to allow for a decent flow of food. Pinch the hole shut until you are ready to start and get ready.
- Freeze quickly and immediately remove from ice cube trays to avoid freezer burn. Your newly made baby food will keep in a freezer bag for up to six months.
With the proper planning and timing you can make all the food your baby will need in just a few fun packed family nights in the kitchen. As an added bonus the cost of making your own baby food is much less than purchasing it, especially if you can grow it!
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