Being a new parent in the Age of Information can be an overwhelming experience. Everywhere you turn there’s some new advice, device, or approach that promises to be the defining characteristic of successful parenting. Add to that the constant comparison between parenting practices on social media, and you have a recipe for distress. One of the primary places we see this comparison and anxiety is around nutrition. What should a baby eat? When should a baby start solids? Should you use purees or go straight to baby-led weaning with finger foods? How often should you introduce a new food? What order should you introduce them in?
If you cut through the sometimes nefarious marketing practices, the fads, and the flashy gimmicks, you’ll find that parenting isn’t all that different than it has been in the past. At the core of any nutrition decision for your baby, you want to consider the same things you consider for nutrition decisions for yourself. Are you choosing healthful foods that pack a nutritious punch?
The prevalent recommendations from organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) focus on exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. At around six months of age, the AAP recommends introducing a variety of solid foods that represent many different textures for a good start on a well-rounded diet. They also recognize that many children need to be introduced to a food more than once before accepting it, so don’t take a thrown spoon or a closed mouth as a defeat.
Is there such a thing as superfoods for babies? The Weston A. Price Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on getting nutrient-dense foods into people’s diets, has some specific recommendations for introducing solid foods to infants. The Foundation points to eggs (particularly egg yolks), bananas, and liver as excellent early food choices. They warn against introducing grains too early, which is particularly important since so many industry-standard brands use grains as a base for infant food. According to the Foundation, “Many doctors have warned that feeding cereal grains too early can lead to grain allergies later on. Baby’s earliest solid foods should be animal foods as his digestive system, although immature, is better equipped to supply enzymes for digestion of fats and proteins rather than carbohydrates.”
One way to make the introduction of nutrient-dense foods even less time consuming and complicated is to use baby-led weaning, a technique that many parents are finding makes the introduction of solid foods easier on them and more satisfying for their babies. In this practice, parents skip purees entirely and let babies explore textures and chewing at their own pace.
While all of these guidelines may seem overwhelming at first, the important thing to remember is that your baby needs nutrient-dense food just like you do, and that means that, as long as you are getting quality foods from a source you trust, you can introduce your baby to foods that you’re already eating. Set the stage for a lifelong habit of nutritious eating from the very beginning!
At Rafter W Ranch, providing sustainably-raised, nutrient-dense food is a philosophy woven into everything we do. See how our delicious options can provide your family a great nutritional start today.