It was not an easy decision to make. But, in the end, tradition won over. Last week we all had poached eggs for breakfast. Claire dined solely on the (not so runny) yolk with the tiniest pinch of salt. It was my first food as well as my mother’s and grandmother’s. I figured there was a reason it was passed down the generations. After some reading, especially on the Weston A. Price site , I learned exactly why. Before I get there, I have to emphasize just how difficult it is to NOT do what a doctor suggests, especially when it concerns your baby. Even though cereals are still widely prescribed as the best first food, for some reason it didn’t feel right. Especially if it was coming out of a box! Yet, mom after mom, health professional after health professional suggested it or did it themselves. Some started with orange vegetables which was a close 2nd for us. In any case, I’m not interested in being right or wrong or clever or different. I’m just interested in what’s best for my baby.
I know whole foods are best. I know this through my own experience with food and my body. My body was chronically unbalanced and slowly it began affecting different systems. I needed to heal and I needed to regain balance. Food was my first step in that journey, a step that was critical to my getting pregnant in the first place. Naturally, eating real, organic, whole foods was a priority for me. I experienced the myriad effects of positive changes in my diet. Yes, whole foods are best. So, as much as was possible, Claire Berlin has been a whole food baby since she was conceived.
So why eggs and why not cereal?
It seems babies are well equipped with the digestive goods to effectively digest protein and fats, such as pepsin, an enzyme that breaks down protein and hydrochloric acid which also aids in the process¹. They also have a special enzyme for absorbing cholesterol². Cholesterol is essential in the production of hormones and brain cells. What babies don’t have is amylase which is the enzyme necessary to digest carbohydrates. (They do produce lactase which digests the lactose in mother’s milk.) This is the science behind our choice. It’s reassuring. Still, that egg yolk was my, my mom’s and my grandmother’s first food was reason enough to let it be our daughter’s first taste, too.
All that thought and discussion that went into our choice and really there are dozens of wonderful first foods. Just keep baby’s delicate digestive system in mind and there really is no wrong answer, as long as you’re feeding baby real, whole food. There have been some fascinating studies on the subject. My favorite is the Clara Davis experiment. In this study, Clara Davis showed that babies really are so much wiser than we think and are able to make food choices that best suit them. And, their palettes are varied and sophisticated! We need not think that babies and kids need a different menu of “kids’ foods”. They should eat what adults eat, eventually! (In most countries I’ve visited, there is no such thing as a kids’ menu.)
Food at this age is merely an introduction as the baby’s main nutrition will still come from mother’s milk or formula. Baby probably won’t get more than a teaspoon of food in at each sitting during these first few weeks. Still, that was the most exciting part about Claire Berlin starting to eat food. Up until now, I had been producing her only food, a miracle I am in awe of daily. Now she’ll be having her first bites of different textures and flavors, exploring her world in new ways again. As we’ve been witnessing her personality unfold, now we will be able to witness the baby gourmet unfold. We’ll get to see how her tastebuds develop and what she’ll love and what she won’t. We’ll get to see how her relationship to food develops and how our values and ideas about food, health, the Earth and our impact on it change and grow as she does.
For now though we’ll just enjoy the firsts, the funny faces and the messes!
Is the parenting journey ever not amazing?!
² Nina Planck, “Real Food for Mother and Baby”
Another good source/good reading is KellyMom.