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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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May 26, 2009

The Definitive Guide to Feeding Primal Babies

By Mark Sisson
137 Comments

It’s commonly portrayed as the realm of infant formula, rice cereal, applesauce, teething biscuits, Zwieback toast and Cheerios. And in the following months a large pantry selection of strained this or that in tiny glass, commercial jars… Add to this picture more recent concoctions like toddler formula, Elmo crackers, mini juice packs, fruit gummies, and “Graduate” lines. All of this begs the question, exactly when and how did baby/early toddler nutrition become a string of processed convenience foods? The ingredient lists often smack more of Candyland than the “wholesome goodness” claimed on the labels. Was this really what nature intended? Can’t we do better by our baby Groks? What would Grandma Grok have to say about all of this? We’ve taken up the kid question before, but I thought it was time for a definitive focus on the youngest of the seedling set.

In a consumeristic society, conventional wisdom has an odd way of merging with marketing maneuver. These revisions to common sense seep in slowly, idea by idea, item by item, until we look around and suddenly don’t recognize the landscape or logic anymore. (That is, if we choose to think about it…) As we so often ask at MDA, how did our current customs come to stray so far from the way of our ancestors?

In Grok’s day, for one, babies had to nurse. Human milk was a long complex product of evolution. Milk with fatty acids for brain development, antibodies for immune system support and high nutrient and fat content resulted in healthy babies who would more likely survive the challenges of Grok’s day. If the milk could change as the child aged to better meet his/her needs over time, that child would have an even better chance of making it to adulthood. And, as we know, these characteristics in breastmilk were exactly what evolution favored and selected for over time. Because human babies had small stomachs, they needed to eat often. Breastmilk was the ultimate in portable food. Because it took two years for babies and young toddlers to develop teeth adequate to chew much of the food available in Grok’s day, they were dependent on their mothers’ milk. (There were, of course, no Cuisinart processors or food mills in Paleolithic times – and little time to bother with elaborate food preparation anyway.) Children transitioned to solids at a slow and gradual rate and took milk from their mothers throughout the toddler years.

So, if the Primal Blueprint vision blends the best of Grok’s day with the benefit of ours, what does this mean for the youngest among us today? Before you scratch the food processor from your baby registry, you should know that I don’t believe in eschewing the gadgets and gizmos that assist in providing good nutrition. I take issue with the modern redefinition of infant/toddler nutrition and the decided disadvantage it imposes on today’s seedlings.

Breastfeeding Benefits

One thing is for certain. Nursing was good enough for baby Grok, and it remains the ideal, unmatched source of nutrients that support human development. Though I’m not going to make a point of comparing formula feeding to mechanical bull riding while pregnant (remember that ad campaign?) I will put it out there – breast is best. Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (as well as other pediatric associations) recommends exclusively breastfeeding until six months, continuing through the first year with the introduction of solids, and after that as long as the mother desires. WHO and UNICEF promote breastfeeding until at least the age of two. As for the MDA stance, I consider breastmilk an absolutely crucial element in optimal infant and young toddler nutrition. Extended breastfeeding and/or the offering of pumped milk should continue through the age of two and ideally beyond.

Last month an Atlantic article The Case Against Breastfeeding caught the public’s (and my) attention and got a lot of tongues wagging. The author, Hanna Rosin, made the case that research didn’t support a significant health benefit of breastmilk over today’s infant formulas. Rosin set out to scrutinize the science behind the nursing-formula debate and to weigh the benefit of breastmilk against the efforts and frustrations of the mother who must provide it. Unfortunately, the article accomplished neither goal in any comprehensive or accurate way. As to the science, critics complain that Rosin conveniently scanned (and cited) selective medical literature. Her “search” into the debate was triggered by a 2001 JAMA article suggesting “inconsistent associations” between breastfeeding and subsequent obesity risk. She went on to point out the occasional incongruity to be found in breastfeeding research – whether it be related to allergies, IQ, diabetes, etc. (Someone should tell her this is always the case – no matter what the issue or condition studied.)

As for Rosin’s and other skeptics’ arguments, it’s true that subsequent diet and circumstance can undo the benefits of breastfeeding. Other advantages are so difficult to nail down in any absolute way that results can always be questioned from some angle (e.g. an individual child’s potential IQ versus his/her actual IQ). She also doesn’t mention (and perhaps didn’t bother to look at) how many of the “critical” studies were indirectly funded by the formula industry. Trust me, there are a lot out there, and the fine print is usually buried at the bottom.

Nonetheless, the overall picture of breastfeeding benefits looks like this. One of the most comprehensive review studies examined and screened over 9000 research abstracts. The final contents of the review included “43 primary studies on infant health outcomes, 43 primary studies on maternal health outcomes, and 29 systematic reviews or meta-analyses that covered approximately 400 individual studies.” The findings were these: a 36% reduction in SIDS, a 23-50% risk reduction (depending on breastfeeding duration) for middle ear infections, 42% risk reduction in eczema, 64% reduction in non-specific gastroenteritis, a 72% reduction in hospitalization for lower respiratory tract infections (infants under 1 year of age), a 27% reduction in asthma (40% for those with a family history), 7-24% reduction in later obesity, a 19-27% reduction in type 1 diabetes, a 39% reduction in type 2 diabetes, a 15-19% reduction in childhood leukemia, as well as an association with lower blood pressure, and lower total and LDL cholesterol. Association with cognitive development, particularly for premature or low birth weight infants, has been shown, but environmental factors have not been completely ruled out as confounding factors in existing studies.

Finally, research is coming out now suggesting a significant health benefit for the mother. In addition to helping prevent postpartum depression, nursing (particularly for two years or more) can also reduce the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, maternal type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease. Membership has its privileges.

All that said, I understand that modern life and individual circumstance can make nursing (particularly “extended” breastfeeding) difficult despite the incredible advantages to both mother and child. More mothers work outside the home and are away from their children for long stretches of time. Although the breast pump industry (along with the pumping culture) has skyrocketed in recent years, not every woman has the practical opportunity, legal entitlement or adequate location for pumping during the workday. These are legitimate questions our society needs to actively and concretely address.

Additionally, nursing requires a tremendous amount of patience, time, and (at certain stages) physical fortitude. No wonder nature designed positive motivators like hormonal release to encourage mother-child bonding and relaxation during breastfeeding. Mother Grok didn’t have much of an alternative to nursing, but she likely had more support and informal instruction within the tribal community than mothers do today.

In the rare case of milk supply issues or maternal absence, it’s probable that other lactating women in the group took on nursing responsibilities for an ailing or orphaned infant. Today we have the likes of La Leche League and professional lactation consultants to stand in for some of the traditional supports. Herbal remedies like fenugreek, alfalfa, nettle leaf, and goat’s rue can help stimulate milk production in mothers who need a boost because of illness, abnormally difficult labor and delivery, premature birth or poor nursing latch.

In the rare case of milk supply issues that couldn’t be fixed through herbal medicine, it’s probable that other lactating women in the group took on nursing responsibilities for an ailing or orphaned infant. Today, we don’t really live in tribes, villages, or closely-knit families with lactating females in our midst at all times, but we can still obtain donor breastmilk through programs like Milk Share, Human Milk 4 Human Babies (nice ring to it, eh?), and Eats on Feets. If milk-boosting isn’t working, I would strongly consider donor milk. Human breast absolutely is best, even if it’s not yours.

If breastfeeding isn’t an option because of maternal health, adoption or other irremediable circumstance, opinions differ on the best secondary options. Most experts suggest conventional formula preparations (particularly for newborns and young babies). Some have evaluated their composition to aid parents in their decision, but nearly all recommend avoiding soy formula all together.

There are also recipes for homemade formula, but it’s crucial in these circumstances to consult your pediatrician. For newborns and young babies, I would recommend conventional formula with DHA and ARA. (I’m not any fan of the formula companies, but infant nutrition involves a whole constellation of considerations. As much as I despise some of the industry marketing practices, the formula companies are closely regulated, and nutrient/hydration requirements have been precisely figured.)

For older babies, I would suggest caution and close medical collaboration when selecting and feeding homemade formula. Though many pediatricians suggest that cow’s milk is a sufficient substitute for formula after twelve months, I recommend continuing a DHA-containing formula (pediatrician-approved homemade or conventional if necessary) until at least eighteen months and preferably two years. Finally, although human breast milk can be purchased, it is generally far beyond the budget of most families. If your baby is premature or unhealthy at birth, talk to the hospital staff and your insurance company about the availability and coverage of donated breast milk.

Even in the best of circumstances, it’s important for nursing mothers to prioritize good nutrition for themselves. Breastmilk production requires extra protein, calcium, fatty acids and an overall addition of daily calories (usually between 350-500). Incorporating a wide variety of foods will help cultivate an infant’s taste for that same healthy fare once they transition to solids. It’s a wise idea to limit or eliminate foods associated with sensitivities and allergies like dairy, soy, gluten, peanuts, coffee and citrus.

Sampling Solids

This brings us to early foods… It’s impossible to cover the first year or so without discussing the transition to “real food” (as if breastmilk is somehow a substandard stand-in…). Ask a roomful of parents what their children’s pediatricians suggest for first foods, and you’ll inevitably hear infant rice or oatmeal from the vast majority. How many of us received the same from our parents? Show of hands?

Conventional wisdom and practice promotes a timeline that goes something like this: rice cereal at six months (sometimes even earlier!), quickly followed by infant oatmeal, followed by barley, followed by processed and pureed fruits, processed and pureed “sweet” vegetables (e.g. squash, sweet potatoes), followed by infant desserts like pudding and cobbler (seriously, folks), followed by the gradual inclusion of maybe an additional 3-4 processed “vegetable” varieties (for the last time, corn is not a vegetable – and neither are peas for that matter). Mixed into this mash of baby mush are innumerable Cheerios, “puffs” (grains decorated with coloring and air), “yogurt melts” and other such nutritional nonsense. I need a timeout just thinking about this….

First off, let me say what should be the obvious. Forget the grains. Pitch the cute boxes with the baby face and baby bowl and other sentimental imagery. Rice, oatmeal, barley. These are unnecessary elements of infant (or adult) nutrition. Although they might be cheaper per ounce, they are less nutrient dense, have a high glycemic index, and in early infancy can trigger allergic conditions. There’s the argument that babies should be exposed to grains to actually prevent allergies or intolerance later. The research is spotty, inconsistent, and the evolutionary logic doesn’t add up. However, because grains are so ubiquitous in our society, it might not be a bad idea to “test” for allergies at some point. Nonetheless, this process can easily wait until the age of one or later when babies have the enzymes to better handle their composition.

That takes care of the boxes. What about the jars? I mean, of course, the customary jars (Gerber, Heinz, Beechnut, etc.) that have lined the cabinets of parents for the last few generations. My first reaction is save your money. These baby purees contain so much water that you’re paying through the nose for a truly minute amount of actual food.

My second response is to forgo them for the sake of better nutrition as well as a better bottom line. Commercial baby foods, whether they come in the traditional jars or those little plastic containers, contain unnecessary and questionable fillers. (Something has to hold it together after including all that water). Fillers like cornstarch or tapioca add to the processed carb content of the “meal” without adding any nutrition to it. The primary food ingredient itself is likely overcooked, a process which depletes the nutritional content. (Some analyses have found natural and organic brands such as Earth’s Best to be more nutrient dense than the bigger conventional companies.) By all means, skip the infant desserts, which have a lower nutritional profile than their regular puree counterparts. If you’re looking for convenience, I’d suggest the frozen baby foods that have become widely available in the last few years (Happy Baby, Plum, Sweet Cheeks, etc.).

Ultimately, however, I’d recommend making your own. The business of do-it-yourself baby food has come a long way since my children were young. In addition to the old fashioned food mills and the small size processors, you can now find special freezer trays, portable serving cubes, baby food sieves, innumerable cookbooks and even an all-in-one steamer and processor. With all the gadgets and gizmos, the time investment is minimal, the nutrition unmatched, and the financial outlay less than most other options.

The best first foods around six months of age are non-allergenic, fresh and flavorful foods that provide impressive amounts of the nutrients especially helpful for infants. Avocado is a great first option: easy to prepare and rich in healthy fats. Bananas, another old standby, aren’t bad either. Cooked (but liquid) egg yolks are a good choice and offer essential cholesterol. (Yes, cholesterol is good for something.) Meats run through a fine food mill provide the iron and protein critical for this stage. Pureed beets, carrots, spinach and other softer greens, sweet potatoes, turnips, apples, pears, berries are good additions. (Side note: some experts suggest delaying the feeding of fresh beets, spinach and carrots until at least six months if not a few months longer given the high nitrate content that young babies largely convert to nitrites.)

Most fruits and vegetables can be slightly cooked to create an easier consistency and promote better digestion. (Obviously, roots and tubers need to be fully softened.) That said, it’s unnecessary to cook these items to the point of unrecognizable mush. You want to balance nutrient retention with baby-friendly texture.  You can add unsweetened yogurt to fruits and pureed greens. Include a bit of cod liver oil, and you’ve got yourself a good smoothie Baby Grok would’ve loved.

For babies and young children, I’d definitely recommend organic whenever and wherever you can find it. (This goes for any food group.) The smaller the seedling, the more vulnerable they are to pesticide residues, hormones and antibiotics. Organic and wild variety produce also offers more nutritional bang for your buck. Dairy and meats should be pastured whenever possible.

The bottom line on baby seedlings is this: it’s clear what nature intended. Human milk for human babies. Whole foods in appropriate, easy to eat forms. Traditional practice trumps conventional wisdom here as it does in nearly every part of the Primal Blueprint. Nonetheless, Lady Grok would’ve killed for that Beaba….

Have your seedling suggestions, comments or questions? Send them on, and thanks for reading.

Prefer listening to reading? Get an audio recording of this blog post, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast on iTunes for instant access to all past, present and future episodes here.

bookgrl Flickr Photo (CC)

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137 Comments on "The Definitive Guide to Feeding Primal Babies"

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Jenni
7 years 4 months ago

Wonderful to see someone say that rice cereal is a non-essential food!!

egmutza
egmutza
7 years 4 months ago

Thanks Mark! Very timely post for my little family.

Curiousfarmer
Curiousfarmer
7 years 4 months ago

Mark,
My Mom doubted “conventional wisdom” before doubting was cool. Mom gave me steak bones to suck on before I had teeth. Couldn’t have hurt and may have set me up for my “meat diet.” http://curiousfarmer.wordpress.com/meat-diet/

Monica
7 years 4 months ago

Great post! As a mother of an 18-month old little girl (still breastfeeding!) I do believe that fresh, organic food is the best. It’s hard not to go convenient when life gets hectic though.

We’re out of the house a lot and aren’t always in a place we can sit and have a full-out meal.

I’d love some more ideas for on-the-go snacks for kids…we’ve got cut up fruit down to a science, but sometimes beyond that it can be hard.

thanks!

Kristin
4 years 6 months ago

My daughter loved plums at that age, there can also be jerkey type foods, my kids love dried mango, nuts, stuff like that?

stacey
stacey
4 years 6 months ago

great tips! I agree wholeheartedly with everything. I rarely give my 10 month old daughter grain, and she’s sensitive to dairy, and I have on occasion bought those little fruit and veggie pouches and freeze dried fruit for convenience. I tried making homemade teething biscuits but they failed. I need some ideas for portable foods on the go! We aren’t always at a place where I can get a quick primal/grain/dairy free snack for my daughter. This is my biggest hindrance right now. Ideally I’d just stay home and not go anywhere but that’s not very realistic!

Amron
3 years 9 months ago
Quick convenient food ideas for little ones on the go: – frozen peas, tossed int a to-go container or baggie -frozen slices or chunks of steamed/sauteed veggies (they keep well for hours if they are packed frozen for travel after you cook them) – yogurts made of goat milk or almond milk (if dairy sensitive) – dried fruit Not so portable: -mixing flavorful broth with steamed or sauteed veggies, and pureeing them to make a textured “spread” consistency makes a great meal. Don’t be afraid to add a high-quality mineralized salt (Himalayan pink, fleur de sel, etc). Tastes great to… Read more »
James
James
7 years 3 months ago

Mark,

Love the site, actually bought some of your vitamins today. I am proud to say that my two sons, Michael and Patrick, were/are being breastfed, and our third boy, due in July, will be the same. My wife, thankfully, is VERY healthy around the solids. chicken, and a lot of vegetables and fruit, so bananas, carrots, etc. We are pretty strict about it. meats, vegetables, fruit, that’s all that we feed our boys!

Thanks for the great site!

Jim

Kim
Kim
7 years 3 months ago

Before I was eating semi-primal myself (I do still eat rice and corn), I thought the diet my little nephews transitioned to was just not right. My sister and brother-in-law are conscientious parents who’ve followed the guidelines available to them to a T…but it just didn’t seem right to me that babies in particular might be imagined to need so many empty calories. It does concern me that this approach may be part of why we Americans are falling behind in height.

Amy
Amy
7 years 3 months ago
Excellent article. As a LLL leader and a mom of a preschooler (who weaned just after his fourth birthday on his own), it is refreshing to see such a well researched and thoughtful article about infant nutrition outside the breastfeeding support/promotion circles. An important note about rice cereals . . . not only is there little nutritional value but the iron it is fortified with has been shown to interfere with absorption of the iron in breastmilk. A note on solids . . . it is quite possible and easy to skip the purees altogether. Put soft chunks in front… Read more »
Jenni
Jenni
4 years 2 months ago

YES! I was going to say something about baby led weaning 🙂 you should look it up Mark! my son was eating steak – actually biting it off with his gums and chewing it up – at 7 months. Now at 10.5 months he LOVES meat, and more meat, and will eat some vegies too 🙂

AaronBlaisdell
7 years 3 months ago
I’ve been sneaking fermented high-vitamin cod-liver oil into my 8-month old’s solid foods. We pure meat and vegetables for her on a regular basis. Mix banana in with whole yogurt. We give her egg yolk from free-range chickens. And since I make my own beef and chicken stock, we add that to her home-prepared meals as well. Real bone broth is a great source of fat-soluble vitamins AND minerals, and makes digestion easier. Unfortunately, I only discovered that grains are bad news in the last half-year. My 3.5 year old has become addicted to crackers, pasta, cereal, etc. I was… Read more »
Theresa
Theresa
7 years 3 months ago
Great article! Starting 15 years ago, I breastfed all 4 of my kids for over a year each, including a set of twins and a micro-preemie (3 mos. early). At 6-7 mos., they started homemade baby food – steamed and blendered. I always brought food from home for them when we went out, or made sure I had my portable food grinder and they had what we had. It’s so important for these little ones to have the best start possible. Unfortunately, most new parents follow the “conventional wisdom” they hear from their doctors and the media, including how formula… Read more »
Krista
Krista
7 years 3 months ago

My daughters first food was pureed avocado. She LOVED it. I can highly recommend it as a mom who gave it to her baby.

Laura
Laura
7 years 3 months ago
Thanks so much for this article. I’m nursing a 5 month old and have already had to fight off advice from all corners (pediatrician in-laws, and the pediatrician himself, my nanny) to feed Finn iron-fortified rice cereal. My pediatrician did make the reasonable comment: “Cod liver oil? Have you tasted cod liver oil? If you introduce that as a first food your son probably won’t like eating very much.” … Fortunately, I’ve found an orange-flavored cod liver oil that I’m gonna try in one month. .. And when I told my mom-in-law that I was avoiding grains she said “what… Read more »
Holly
7 years 3 months ago
I give my son cinnamon flavored cod liver oil almost daily and he’s 7. He’s rarely sick (allergies mostly) and hasn’t had to be to the doctor for illness since 2005. He prefers the cod liver oil with apple cider or water. He actually hasn’t ever said anything about it tasting bad. And he’s complained once when he couldn’t taste it… maybe he’s weird because he HATED macaroni and cheese as a baby (before I knew better) but loved sauerkraut. BTW – I ate that a lot when I was pregnant and breastfeeding him; my family is Polish. He thinks… Read more »
Greg at Live Fit
7 years 3 months ago

My youngest son couldn’t eat any grains at all. He went into what we affectionately called “projectile vomit.” Very hard time for everyone…

Miriam
Miriam
7 years 3 months ago

Great article Mark, I wonder how I could advise my in-laws of this without offending them, as it saddens me to say they feed their two beautiful babies soy & corn based formula, proceeded meat, nutra-grain cereal and white rice and wonder why they both have digestive problems.

Grok
7 years 3 months ago

I saw a pretty good video rant on Mercola’s website about feeding babies soy formula. Pop over to his site and find it. Would be easy thing to email your in-laws.

You could play dumb and say “wow, look what I found.”

Karen
Karen
7 years 3 months ago

Mark,
Any advice for children 11,9,2. I am new to PB. I feel like I am not meeting all the nutritional values for my children if they don’t get all the “food groups”. I know , you see this as brain washing but I just need some direction. How much protein/fat/carbs do you recommend for children?

Holly
7 years 3 months ago

I would check out some of Weston A. Price’s stuff for kids. My son has done the best with a high fat diet. And the dentist told me today that with the way his face/teeth is/are developing he probably won’t need braces!! His father and I both had them so that’s a huge relief for my wallet!

Bob
7 years 3 months ago

Thanks so much, Mark! Matty is 6 months old, and his sum total of solid food so far consists of a bit of avocado, a bit of banana, and sucking on a cucumber slice every now and then. I’m ditching the rice cereal someone gave us (probably the manufacturer). I love the idea of giving him T-bones!!!

damaged justice
damaged justice
7 years 3 months ago

The zero carbers can attest that babies thrive on an all meat diet 🙂

Matt
Matt
7 years 3 months ago

Does anyone know of a handy replacement for cherrios/puff for toddler on the go snack food?

Chrystle
Chrystle
3 years 7 months ago

I have had this issue with my 9 month old. I have actually found some organic gluten free puffs that we use on a limited basis.

shutchings
shutchings
7 years 3 months ago
Sorry, but I can’t imagine nursing into the second year. Most of my kids stopped on their own around 13-14 months. I sat down to nurse my fifth child, as I had done everyday of her life, and pretty much on her 1st year birthday she looked at me and her eyes said “There’s not another person in this house that does this–why am I?” And she stopped cold turkey–which any nursing mother knows is quite painful. But she could drink from a cup like every one else, and that’s just the way things go. As far as snack foods… Read more »
kami
kami
5 years 1 month ago

It is nearly impossible for a child under 18 m/o to self wean. I would say your children are quite rare. The normal range for self weaning is 2y/o-6 y/o biologically speaking of course in humans.

I found it kind of rude to say “you couldn’t imagine nursing into the second year” I think it is important to respect all mothers decisions. Also I completely respect that you weaned your children when you were ready.

PB
7 years 3 months ago

My daughters first food was pureed avocado. She LOVED it. I can highly recommend it as a mom who gave it to her baby.

Nick
Nick
7 years 3 months ago

“There were, of course, no Cuisinart processors or food mills in Paleolithic times …”

There were doubtless devices for pounding and grinding food that needed processing. You can find them today among primitive peoples. I don’t know of any archaeological examples from tens of thousands of years ago, but then a wooden mortar, for example, would be unlikely to survive in the record.

What mothers would certainly have done is chew food for their infants. Since modern mothers are unlikely to be up for that …

Leanne
Leanne
7 years 3 months ago

Chewing food for your baby -> That is exactly what my grandmother’s mom did. I don’t know if being native american has anything to do with it…

I think I remember my grandmother telling me thats how she fed all four of her kids as well.

My grandmother is 91 years old and still plants some of her own veggies. Her mother lived to be 102.

stacey
stacey
4 years 6 months ago

oh and I chew my food for my baby all the time! especially meat, and I bite things into smaller peices for her. I hide it a bit in public, but at home, that’s all I do lol

Vanessa
Vanessa
4 years 2 months ago

I chew stuff for my baby all the time. I am also blessed to have a good oral health, and I suppose this might be in part because I avoid eating crap. Assisted chewing is standard practice in TRADITIONAL native american culture, from what I have heard. I first did it because we were all eating apples or something and my baby was grabbing at the fruit and glaring at me with an indignant look on his face that made me feel like a selfish clod for not sharing.

jpippenger
7 years 3 months ago

You were reading my mind. The last week I have been thinking about how to introduce a primal lifestyle to children. Thanks for the great article!

Jay
Jay
7 years 3 months ago
Thank you, Mark. Perfect timing for me as well. Our son is five months now and still breastfeeding. My wife would like to introduce solids next month. All of you have provided great comments. How can you show more love to your child than by giving him breastmilk and quality foods in time? You are giving him the best start in life. I will do anything in this world to ensure his health. If it means waking up early to mash avocado over buying a jar of Gerbers I think I can do that.
Courtney
Courtney
5 years 29 days ago

I recommend a book called “Baby Led Weaning”. It is all about introducing whole solid foods. No baby food. We loved and used the techniques on my youngest.

Emma
Emma
4 years 6 months ago

we did baby led weaning with our now 1 year old. It took the stress out of sitting him down and forcing spoonfulls of mush down his throat. he ate with his hands and quickly became a pro. Its an amazing technique and suggest it for everyone!

Meg
Meg
7 years 3 months ago

“If breastfeeding isn’t an option because of… adoption or other circumstance….opinions differ on the best secondary options.”

One thing adoptive mother’s should consider is artificially inducing lactation. Using a breast pump or having the adopted baby suckle continually and most women will eventually begin to lactate. All of the herbs mentioned (fenugreek, alfalfa, nettle leaf, etc) can aid in milk production even when artificially induced. The nutritional quality of artificially induced lactation is identical to that of postpartum lactation, except that artificial induction will skip the production of “first milk” or colostrum.

Janice
Janice
7 years 3 months ago
This topic (how to raise/feed) kids is a hot button. I keep my mouth shut in public because most people don’t want to hear about the “research” –real, flawed, incomplete or definitive (wink, wink). But, this site is sort of preaching to the choir – so here goes. My two are 10 and 15. Until they were 3, neither had processed food – except for food I chewed myself and gave them. I know – ugh. But, I knew enough about digestion to know that it starts in the mouth – and saliva is not just what you leave by… Read more »
James
James
4 years 9 months ago

I’m struggling with a spouse that isn’t on board. I am so glad you posted this. Do you have a blog I can follow? Or would you be interested in a pen pal?

Rachel Morgan
Rachel Morgan
4 years 7 months ago
My son didn’t have solids until after a year either. We never did cereal or jar food. He has remained in the 99th percentile for height and 95th for weight 🙂 He is now 20 months with a full set of teeth, still nursing often, sleeps with us, and loves steak, avocado, greens, etc! I didnt intentionally buck the system. When I was pregnant, I read all of the books on pregnancy and was very mainstream. Once he was born, my instinct took over. Let him cry? Hell no! Feed him On a schedule? You’re kidding. Put him in his… Read more »
Melissa
Melissa
5 months 20 days ago

Hello Janice. I know it’s been a while but I love your comment. It reminds me of me so much. My daughters are only 3 years and 4 months and I can totally agree that it is very lonely! You’re like “one in a million” to me. I wish there were more people like you around me. Is there an email I can reach you?

Colleen
Colleen
7 years 3 months ago
Great article and great comments! I only wish I’d known all this earlier. My son’s now almost 5. I breastfed him for about six months but found it very difficult to keep up with the pumping once I returned to work. The frequent breaks were not looked at kindly by coworkers or supervisor! Even though no outright comments were made (well maybe once or twice now that I think of it) you know the looks you get…the same one the smokers get! I also was relegated to pumping in a storage closet (at least more sanitary than a bathroom). And… Read more »
Donna
Donna
4 years 3 months ago
Have your child help you cook, kids are more likely to eat what they help make. Keep serving the healthy foods. Kids get used to whatever you feed them. Pecans also make a tasty coating for ‘nuggets’, fish or chicken. You can always prepare meats and veggies and just add whatever starch your hubbie wants to his plate only, not to the table, or for your son. Almond butter is easy to make, and served with carrots, celery or root veggie ‘chips’ is a dipping snack or meal. Lettuce subs well for breads or wraps(with a bit of meat and… Read more »
Kathy
Kathy
4 years 3 months ago
Do it gradually but at a fast clip if that makes sense. The first thing i would do is go cold turky on any grains. Trust me, he will lose his cravings for this stuff in short order. It may take a week or 2 and it gets easier with time. My son just wanted snadwiches all the time also. Now we dont eat any grains and he is happy eating what i give him which is lots of eggs,meats, nuts, fruits,veggies. Again, give up all grains, he willl eat when he gets hungry enough. Make sure there is healthy… Read more »
Kim
Kim
7 years 3 months ago

Just saw this on Science Daily today, it dovetails nicely with your recommendations:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090528092349.htm

Trinkwasser
Trinkwasser
7 years 3 months ago

Full paper is subscription only but appears to be a modern duplication of some of Weston Price’s work. Which is good.

Toddler
7 years 3 months ago

OHH This is good for me. Thank ^_^

Debbie
Debbie
7 years 3 months ago
Great article. I’ll have to forward to my son and daughter-in-law who are expecting my first grandchild in August. They are pretty on-board with primal philosophies anyway, and follow a more or less Weston Price-based diet. But it never hurts to get more information. I just wish I’d had the resources available to me 30 years ago when my son was born. I tried to do the best I could with the knowledge I had at at the time. I breastfed for almost a year, but had to give it up when I had to return to work full-time. I… Read more »
Carina
Carina
7 years 3 months ago
I have a couple of questions regarding feeding my 8 month old. He is extremely active (has been crawling since 5 months and is now standing and walking along the furniture) and loves to eat. I am still breast feeding at least 5 times a day, but also feeding him pureed food about 3 times a day. So far, we have introduced a number of vegetables and fruit (all organic) and are avoiding grains. My first question is about the vegetable choices. Currently my son is eating squash, sweet potatoes, peas, lentils, green beans, carrots and spinach. The fruits he’s… Read more »
Ursula
Ursula
7 years 3 months ago

Thanks very much – I’ll be introducing my younger daughter to solids soon so this post is very timely! I just read the book “Real Food for Mother and Baby” which had some similar advice.

Pagea
Pagea
7 years 1 month ago
Great article, thanks. We’re thinking of slowly transitioning to a more paleo way of eating, inspired by friends. We have an 18mth old daughter (who is still breastfed, but only just – she is giving up slowly) and I am slightly nervous about cutting out carbs completely for her, but we’ll do it gradually and see how she does. She has been weaned the “Baby-led Weaning” way, which means skipping the puree stage and just offering real food in manageable pieces – her first meal was steamed broccoli and steamed carrot sticks. Best parenting decision of our lives as we… Read more »
Alcinda
7 years 1 month ago
I really wish I’d know all of this when mine were babies….but now I get to educate my daughter! When mine were infants I was unable to nurse as there weren’t enough calories in my milk to keep them alive (I know now that this was likely due to the low fat diet I was following!) so they did go on formula, but I’m a big advocate of nursing at least 6 months and preferable up to a year. For baby foods, I did make a lot of my own, but mainly because of finances, not because I thought it… Read more »
Maxine Humpherys
Maxine Humpherys
6 years 11 months ago
Thanks Mark for a great article. I breastfed my three children back in the sixties/seventies when it definitely wasn’t “in”. Thanks to La Leche League, I learned a lot of truths and got a lot of support. They taught me how to nurse inconspicuously (I nursed my 3 month old on a plane, and the man sitting next to me didn’t know – he said “what a good baby” when she didn’t cry! I didn’t give my kids baby foods – just breast milk until they started to grab food off the table 🙂 I was fortunate in not having… Read more »
liz
liz
6 years 10 months ago

Hey Mark, you might want to check out “Baby Led Weaning” and then revisit this topic. It’s amazing what babies can eat themselves without any prep work.

indiadawn
indiadawn
6 years 8 months ago
Hello, this is my first ever comment on a blog. I am a nursing mother and am trying to follow the primal blueprint. Does anyone know what effects ketosis in the mother has on the baby? My daughter will be a year old next week and I plan on nursing until she weans herself (her sister weaned herself around 15 mo.) I am also having trouble balancing enough carbs while keeping my protein to the recommended amount. I will be trying the “Big Ass Salad” for lunch to see if that helps. I know I’m supposed to get more calories… Read more »
Maxine Humpherys
Maxine Humpherys
6 years 7 months ago

In answer to the question about effect of mom’s ketosis on baby, since Inuit traditionally ate whale/seal/other animals with lots of fat, and few carbs, it would appear that babies would thrive if moms ate that way. Just be sure to get enough fat to provide needed calories.

Rach
Rach
6 years 7 months ago
Thank you for this article, Mark! There are also many great comments from your readers. I wanted to confess that I too have pre-chewed many meals of healthy first foods for my babies, mostly because it was easier than preparing many separate meals for our large family. My 3rd and 4th children were also lucky recipients of extended and tandem breastfeeding. In response to indiadawn, the exclusively-breastfed babies I nursed never responded adversely when I was losing the baby fat/i.e., ketosis. I feed myself nutrient-dense foods, plenty of healthy fluids, and didn’t try to do too much too quickly. My… Read more »
Jen
Jen
6 years 7 months ago
This is good for my soul to read. I have food allergies and found my way to the GAPS diet almost by accident, which is pretty close to what you describe as Primal. My daughter is still nursing at 3.5. Like her mother, she has an aversion to high-carb foods unless they’re bathed in a good, nutritious fat. As an infant, she always spit out the rice cereal and couldn’t seem to digest vegetables until recently. She prefered prechewed rare grass-fed meat. Her favorite breakfast is a meat patty made of beef or lamb mixed with a chopped, steamed vegetable… Read more »
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Patricia
Patricia
6 years 6 months ago
Interesting! Ground meat is often offered as a first baby food in Africa (according to a comment in a WHO study on transitional combined breastfeeding/solid diets), which makes sense–babies’ bodies run out of zinc and iron as they grow. One thing that struck me often as a new mom was how separate babies are supposed to be from the adult sphere. If we could bring them along wherever we went, like Mama Grok, we’d have an easier time breastfeeding . . . and rearing our kids to live in the real world. I bet adults would behave more decently to… Read more »
cherylz
6 years 6 months ago

excellent article! what a departure from the way i was raised—my mother bottlefed me (the 1960’s nurses claimed she would never get the “hang” of nursing)(LOL!), and gave me Gerber Rice cereal when i was only one month old…..I’m happy to say that with my own kids, we breastfed for 2.5 years …I have allergies/asthma, but only one of my kids has allergies and no asthma.

isaboblue
isaboblue
6 years 5 months ago
Great article! I was only able to nurse my son for 4 months 🙁 Couldn’t get a good latch, when I pumped I got nothing, probably due to stress and a sad diet. I was freaking out because I knew all the garbage in commercial formulas. Luckily I found the Weston A Price foundation and the website posted the infant formula recipes from Nourishing Traditions cookbook. I’ve been giving my son the raw milk formula since then and he is now 19 months, strong and healthy and has had a cold only once. As for solids, he gets chicken with… Read more »
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[…] the importance of prebiotics in the human diet is the presence of galactooligosaccharides in human breast milk. Even the most ardent detractor of the viability of Paleolithic nutrition couldn’t deny that the […]

Katie
Katie
6 years 4 months ago
I have been following a Weston A. Price diet since my daughter was 3 months old. I exclusively breastfeed her – she is almost 8 months now, and I try to give her cod-liver oil. I recently eliminated all grains after reading Primal Blueprint. My doc found through blood tests that I am hypothyroid – very low T3 and put me on natural dessicated porcine thyroid about 3 months ago. Since my daughter was about 3-4 months old, I can’t seem to lose any more baby weight. I am about 10-15 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight and I can’t fit… Read more »
Leah
Leah
6 years 1 month ago

Katie,
I read that while breastfeeding helps lose most of the weight, if you were thin before you got pregnant then your body will hold onto about 10 extra pounds as long as you are breastfeeding to make sure there are always enough fat reserves to feed your baby. As a breastfeeding mother of a 6 month old, I too, have been grounded at 13 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight. I have decided to stop stressing as much about it until I’m done nursing (but still eat healthy and exercise).

Maxine
Maxine
6 years 4 months ago

Hi. I don’t have any thoughts on why you haven’t been able to lose weight – breastfeeding usually helps. Regarding the thyroid supplementation, it sounds like you’re taking too much, if you’re getting palpitations, and can’t sleep. You shouldn’t go off the medication, just have your physician lower the dose and keep checking every 4 weeks until you reach the right TSH level. If your physician isn’t an endocrinologist, I suggest you see one. I am also hypothyroid, so am familiar with the situation.

Debbie
6 years 4 months ago
Katie, I would not stop meds but you might need a dosage adjustment. I was also recently diagnosed as hypothyroid and the endocrinologist started me at a LOW dose and has slowly increased at, as she said that “too much, too soon” can indeed cause heart palpitations. If anything, getting your thyroid under control should help with your weight, so I encourage you to see about an adjustment, not stopping the med. As for your weight? Well I confess I gained about 55 pounds when I was pregnant with my son. I lost 35 in the first 6 weeks after… Read more »
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[…] up for the healthiest relationship with food? Is rice cereal really the best food, or even the right food to give to a baby? Are bananas too sweet? And sweet potatoes too starchy? What about avocados? Are they in season? […]

Suvetar
Suvetar
6 years 3 months ago
I just want to give some food for thought: My sister and I were born 4 years apart, she was fully breastfed for a long time and was a plump baby. I was born premature, put in a breeding case in critical care in the hospital for 6 weeks and on baby formula. Fed through tubes and had no human contact (physically by touching skins) Now 40 years later: My sister is a wreck, her hair has steadily been falling out since a teenager, she had VERY bad teeth growing up and had to have braces, she is also allergic… Read more »
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[…] physiological point first… Parents want to help their kids make good food choices and get plenty of physical activity. However, there’s another often missed piece to the puzzle. […]

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