Becoming a parent is like getting a high stakes job without any training...to say that it can be overwhelming and stressful is an understatement. It is tough to weed through all the different schools of thought when it comes to health and care, too. I find that two things are true for all new parents.
1) Every parent wants to do the best they can for their child.
2) Every parent struggles to know what “the best” really is, at some point or another.
To help alleviate some of this stress and overwhelm, I have put together some basic information about feeding and nutritional needs for babies. Remember, aside from doing research, you should also check in with your own intuition (or gut feelings) when deciding what is best for your child. YOU were chosen to be the guiding light for YOUR child, which means you have all the answers within YOU. Trust and choose what resonates with you, and also trust your instincts about when it’s time to reach out for help.
Keep It Simple
Babies take in a very large amount of nourishment and excrete a very large amount of waste, relative to their size. This means that their digestive system is working overtime, and is very susceptible to deficiency, which can manifest as reflux, colic, constipation, sleep disturbances, and excessive mucus in ears, nose, and throat. Truly the best way to support their digestion and their health in general is by keeping it simple.
Breast milk is Enough
Did you know that your child can get EVERYTHING they need nutritionally for the first year of life from breast milk? It’s true! For the first year of life, any solid foods incorporated into baby’s diet are providing experience with different textures and tastes, but do not need to be relied on for nourishment.
Cow’s Milk Caution
Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary to give a child cow’s milk for calcium after weaning from nursing. This is false for many reasons. First, though calcium is without a doubt an important component of a healthy diet, the bone strengthening effects of calcium pale in comparison to other minerals like silica and magnesium. These trace minerals, along with calcium, can be found in foods like kale, collard greens, barley, quinoa, black beans, almonds, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds, in forms that are bio available (easily absorbed by the body). Second, dairy products create dampness (Chinese medicine lingo for mucus and congestion) in the body. For children, this can manifest as respiratory infections, ear infections, frequent cold/flu, and sinus congestion/infection. It can also be a causative factor for skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. On top of that, it is hard on the digestive system (which, as mentioned above, is already working overtime) and can cause all sorts of digestive issues like reflux, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal cramping/bloating, and more.
Formula Fed Babies
Before I share any info here, I want to start with a disclaimer: This is NOT meant to shame or place guilt on mothers who cannot nurse. This is simply meant to clear up confusion and provide answers for moms everywhere. I truly believe that every mother does the absolute best that she can for her child(ren) with the resources and knowledge she has, and I honor that to the highest level. I know how emotionally, physically, and mentally upsetting it can feel to not be able to breastfeed a child, and my hope is to provide information to support parents going through this however I can.
Most baby formulas are quite lacking in nutritional content. The first ingredient in several popular brands of formula is some form of corn syrup, which has NO nutritional value, and can increase a child’s risk of diabetes (both type I and II). These formulas often contain either cow’s milk protein or soy protein, both of which have less than ideal effects on baby. Cow’s milk is, as I stated above, a cause of dampness (TCM term for mucus production), and can often be the culprit for children suffering from frequent sinus, ear, or respiratory infections (among other things). Soy can be an issue because it is usually genetically modified and is a hormone disruptor.
For more information about the dangers of commercial baby formula, and to learn how to make your own, click here.
Bringing in Whole Foods
When your baby is ready for food, remember to choose whole foods, preferably organic. The lower the ingredient count, the better. Avoid processed food products whenever possible. The best option for baby food is homemade, and truly this is not as daunting as it may sound. Babies eat small portions, so it’s easy to prepare large quantities of baby food to freeze (in single-serving portions) for the future. Getting in the habit of preparing all of baby’s food right away helps to create a routine of home-cooked meals for life. To learn more about the ins and outs of transitioning to whole foods, click here
If you have questions about your child’s nutritional needs, or want assistance in creating a nutrition plan that is best suited to them, contact Caitria here