When To Start Solids With Your Real Food Baby

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Cara and Hannah

14 months and still not getting many calories from solids

Starting babies on solids is something all mothers think about, some wonder when the soonest they can introduce a baby to solids is, others want to put it off as long as possible.  Every family needs to choose a method that works for them; it’s my belief that not only are all babies different, but all families are different as well.  Here’s what we did, as well as what Sally Fallon of Nourishing Traditions advises and Dr Natasha Campbell McBride of Gut and Psychology Syndrome.

You can see in this monster post about childbirth, breastfeeding, and babies that I like to research this stuff, but then when it comes down to it, I don’t stress if what I believe to be best isn’t actually feasible on our particular family.

How I Introduced Solids

I was super relaxed about feeding solids to my kids.  I waited until they met the ‘baby led weaning’ criteria (could sit up unassisted, were at least 6 months old, had at least one tooth) and then offered some whole single-ingredient foods to them.  Usually this was off my plate, sometimes while they were sitting in a high chair in the kitchen with me.  Both of my children had no interest in swallowing solids until about a year.  I would offer a couple times a week (it’s messy! I’m lazy and don’t want to clean mashed squash from the ears of a baby who isn’t actually eating anything!) and see when they started swallowing food.

Upon the advice of our naturopath, I did keep my daughter from grains until she was about 1-1/2, and then some cereal crept into our diet for a while.  My son started solids just as we were starting GAPS (his first birthday ‘cake’ was whipped butternut squash with some salt and a candle!) so he has been primarily grain free his whole life.

So, I breastfed. I breastfed my babies on demand; my daughter nursed all.the.time. and my son often went 4-5 hours between feedings from birth.  My children were totally different sizes; my daughter being about 6.5 lbs at birth, and my son 11 (yes, 11). Different babies are different, that’s why it’s so important to research things like feeding, but then watch your individual baby and do what is working for them. On my children’s totally different feeding schedules they both grew, and both were happy, so it worked.

You can see in the picture above that I got a little thin making milk that met the calorie requirements for a one-year-old, but both my kids were quite pudgy even at 12 months existing completely on breastmilk.

Once solids were introduced, I watched for reactions and then pretty much just fed my young toddlers table food.  Knowing what I know now, I would try to keep my baby on GAPS until 2 years to establish good gut flora and provide added nutrition during the early years. Once I saw my baby didn’t react to any of the big things (nuts, eggs, dairy) I didn’t stress about introducing foods individually.

I continued to nurse, mostly at night, until 2-1/2 for my daughter and nearly 3 for my son, then I did wean them.  It was an easy thing to do at that time and didn’t feel traumatic, I mostly chose the time to wean them based on our life circumstances- I weaned my daughter shortly after her brother was born and I saw that she was making the adjustment just fine. I weaned my son shortly after we moved, and again, the transition was made just fine. I was hesitant to wean before a major life change for them, so I just waited til after.

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Some things that worked for me:

  • Don’t stress if they don’t eat, they will eventually (I questioned this a lot around 11-12 months with my daughter!)
  • If your baby is still hungry and is breastfed, look up block feeding to encourage them to get the fatty hind milk out
  • Salt their food! Use real salt to taste.  Babies need salt.
  • Hold off on sweet foods like cooked fruit until baby is eating proteins and veggies.
  • Smile, nod, and do what you were previously doing when given well meaning advice about feeding your child.
  • Watch your baby like a hawk when you think someone might slip them some unauthorized food.  Don’t be afraid of offending them, nobody needs to be giving your infant a lick of a lolly pop and it’s your job as a parent to protect them.
  • Don’t stress if your baby is ready for solids early, some babies are. Trust their bodies.
  • Introduce fish, cod liver oil, egg yolks, and liver early, most babies like these.
  • Tea tree oil topically relieved mastitis :)
  • Fenugreek tea boosted my supply, but I also think it made my milk more sugary, make sure baby is getting enough hind milk.
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Nourishing Traditions on Feeding Babies

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Sally Fallon talks about traditional cultures supplementing breastmilk at 4 months.  She stresses prenatal and pre-conception nutrition, especially with a focus on animal fats, shellfish, and organ meats.  She warns about a mother with a low quality diet producing low quality milk; while I don’t disagree with this, I do think that human milk in nearly all situations will be better for a baby than non-human milk.  Breastfeeding is recommended to continue to 6 months to a year (I believe a minimum of 2 should be standard).  One egg yolk a day with a small amount of grassfed liver and some sea salt is recommended to start at 4 months.  Cereal grains are advised to avoid until age 1 or 2.  I like this quote on page 601 from Nourishing Traditions, “Remember that babies should be chubby and children should be sturdy and strong, not slim.  Babies need body fat to achieve optimum growth.  The fat around their ankles, knees, elbows, and wrists is growth fat that ensures adequate nourishment to the growth plates at the ends of the bones.  Fat babies grow up into sturdy, well-formed adults.”
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Gut and Psychology Syndrome on Feeding Babies

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Natasha Campbell-McBride has a chapter in the new version of Gut and Psychology Syndrome (page 351) that explains her views on feeding a baby in a GAPS family.  Because these babies are more likely to have poor gut flora and be nutritionally depleted due to poor health in their parents, special considerations are taken.  Breastfeeding is, of course, encouraged, and if that is not possible a wet nurse or milk donor is encouraged (I love this- human milk for human babies should be normal). If for some reason baby must take formula, probiotics should be added to the bottle from the start (Nourishing traditions has this in their handmade formula as well).  As with the entire Gut and Psychology Syndrome protocol, emphasis is placed on reducing toxins as well as eating wholesome foods. Natural crib mattresses should be used, and commercial baby care products with toxic ingredients should be avoided.
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The Order of Starting foods in the Gut and Psychology Syndrome Feeding Babies Protocol
  • Breastmilk
  • Homemade meat or fish stock, no salt, start with 1-2 teaspoons starting at 6 months for a breastfed baby.
  • Freshly pressed vegetable juice diluted with warm water between meals, carrot then cabbage and celery
  • Add probiotic food to stock, start with 1/2 teaspoon a day: Whey, sauerkraut juice, yogurt
  • Vegetable soup or puree from peeled and deseeded well cooked veggies and stock (no starchy foods like potatoes or yams)
  • Boiled meats
  • Ripe avocado
  • Raw organic egg yolk added to vegetable soup
  • Cooked apple as apple puree, butter, coconut oil, or ghee added
  • Pancakes made with nutbutter, squash, and eggs
  • Add fresh apples to veggie juice
  • Raw vegetables: Lettuce, peeled cucumber, carrot, celery, cabbage- all blended/pureed
  • Gently scrambled egg with raw butter
  • Ripe raw apple without skin
  • Ripe banana with brown spots (fruit should be given away from meats)
  • Homemade cottage cheese
  • Grain free bread
  • Small amounts of natural salt
  • Table foods that are GAPS approved

Resources:

Heather of Mommypotamus wrote Nourished Baby, which talks more about what to feed your baby and why.

Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck

 

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Comments

  1. What a GREAT resource! This is a Godsend and one I will refer moms back to when they are trying to navigate having a sick child on breast milk and being pushed towards formula. The comment about not being afraid to offend people is so wise. In the beginning I often worried about offending people at the expense of my child. The only thing I would note is that Sally’s comment about chubby babies can be misleading when dealing with a GAPS infant. GAPS infants can be puffy, retaining water and malnourished, which can be mistaken for a well-fed child. So this recommendation shouldn’t be taken out of context to justify feeding a SAD or commercial chemical formula as a food substitute (you didn’t say that, just noting). As always, truly appreciate your posts and help navigating GAPS for children. A very important and much needed resource.

  2. Serena says:

    With all due respect to Sally Fallon, I think her breastfeeding recommendations are way off. I was horrified when I read that chapter in Nourishing Traditions, and almost discounted the whole book because of it…but, well, I realized I shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. A mother having an inferior diet causing inferior breastmilk is a myth. A mother could live off of soda and chips and her breastmilk would still be fine. This, of course, is NOT recommended, but it’s frustrating to see women told that their milk might not be good enough. It just seems like one more old wives tale that makes breastfeeding difficult to attain. I felt like Sally Fallon possibly didn’t have a good relationship with breastfeeding her own children, or else was just ignorant, when reading her recommendations. I hope I’m not sounding too harsh, but from everything that I’ve researched and my own experience, I felt like she was setting mothers up for failure in breastfeeding.

    With my first baby, I started solids around 7 months. By my second I’d wised up and was going to wait as long as I possibly could, but ended up starting at 7 months also. With my first, she could have waited if I’d realized, with my second, she was actually ready, which was a bit of a shock to me because I was sure waiting was going to be fine. As to weaning, my first was two, and I gave her just a bit of a nudge (she was down to once a day) because I was pregnant and I got REALLY sick with a flu and walking pneumonia. With my second, she self-weaned at 2 1/2, far before I was ready for her to be done!

    • I agree. I do think that milk from a well nourished mother would be superior to milk from a mother who eats junk food, but I always think human milk is best for human babies.

    • If diet didn’t matter, then why do we get free range eggs, grassfed meat, or raw organic cows milk for more nutrients? I think it is obvious to me that when an unhealthy mother who has a small undernourished baby come out, it should be smaller then normal still in a few months. Instead we see most often that the baby has ballooned to off the charts! Babies not given the proper nutrients, just like adults, go into starvation mode, and get fat. A sturdy baby may be good, but a fat baby, (after being early to boot) is classic of a fat mom, because her milk is full of it.

      • It’s not that diet doesn’t matter, it’s that human milk is always more appropriate for human babies than a human milk substitution. Yes, it’s important to eat well, I saw the difference between eating SAD with my daughter (6.5 lbs, autism) and about half way WAP with my son (11 lbs, typically developing). Both are thriving now, but there is a difference!

  3. Both of my kids were walking before they had any teeth. My son cut his first 4 a week or so before he turned 1; and my daughter is 16m old and still only has 3 teeth. Silly!

    She still nurses a lot, but does what she can with food and she doesn’t like the mushy stuff (except applesauce). I’m looking forward to more of her teeth coming in so she’ll be able to chew better.

    • Oh and my son started dabbling with mushy food around 6m and my daughter was 8m before she wanted anything to do with big-girl food. And she’s always been a chubby lil thing — for awhile off the charts!

    • I should have mentioned this- yes, my son walked at 9 months and was still only breastfed. Different things for different kids :)

  4. Excellent post! My son will be one this week and he is still EBF. He wasn’t very interested in solids until about 9/10 months. Some days he’ll eat a lot. Others I can hardly get a bite down. But I don’t worry about it. At the moment he seems to be very fond of cheese, chicken and scrambled eggs :) I’ve kept him grain and sugar free so far. I might try adding some soaked grains in a bit. But very slowly. It’s good for parents to know that every child is different. And that they don’t need to worry if their child isn’t scarfing solids right at 6 months. Both of my kids have been bf and have been very chubby :) They are not hurting by not eating a ton of solids right away.

  5. Andrea says:

    My first daughter did Baby Led Weaning and was an absolute pro at handling chunks of soft food and gumming them to death. We started slow and she was only really getting more calories from food than from breastmilk around 18 months or so. About that time I got pregnant and DH helped me night-wean her because of my exhaustion and the pain associated with breastfeeding for me. She fully weaned around two as my milk dried up during pregnancy. She eats very well now (on GAPS). Lots of veggies, fruit, and meat with very few things she doesn’t care for.

    My second has been getting GAPS breastmilk from about 2 months as her eczema and colic forced me to get dairy and gluten out of my diet. She has been hard to feed though pureed and chunky foods alike make her gag. On the few occasions where I felt like she needed baby Motrin or something, she gagged on the syrup that the medicine was suspended in! Feeding has been a messy business. She finally got her first teeth at 10 months and just recently (11 months) she has been swallowing little bits of things and I’ll find them in her diaper. I am not worried as I produce a lot of milk. I have had her chew on broccoli then have bad gas afterwards, etc. so I am concerned about her digestion too.

    I really have a lot of respect for Natasha Campbell-McBride, of course, but I really don’t understand giving babies solids at 4 months. Maybe that is to speed up the healing process? But I am not a fan of that. I think babies might even do better if exclusively breastfed until a year. That is almost what we are doing over here! I do probably need to do more with liver and pastured egg yolk though. Both make me nervous, but as I know she isn’t going to throw up when I feed her, I will be more willing to try more things. Right now she thinks strawberries are amazing. :)

  6. Doulabritton says:

    So my baby girl is 8 months and exclusively breasted. I know she has GAPS and I am wanting to have a plan for introducing foods to her. I think she will be a late bloomer when it comes to getting teeth. She is gaining weight well and I am wondering what are some ways to know when she is “ready” for something other then breastmilk?

    Something I thought was interesting, I though I would try the GAPS diet while breastfeeding so I cut out dairy, grains, and sugar for 2 weeks and I found my supply was quickly depleting and both my baby and I were starving. Because of my concern for loosing my milk all together I stopped after the 2 weeks. What do you all think about the benifets of drinking the broth and probiotics if I’m still eating the crap? Would you add anything els? I’m open to suggestions?

  7. You mentioned salting their food. I add a sparse sprinkling of sea salt to my son’s food, which I get criticized for, and I would love any links you might have to articles supporting the theory that babies need salt.
    Thanks!

    Also, when did you start giving your kids raw milk? We buy 5 bottles of it a week, we love it…but I am nervous about giving it to my son. He’s 11 months old.

    • I am interested in the salt too! The GAPS doesn’t seem to introduce salt until later, but NT introduces it at 4 mos. I would like to read more on that as well!

  8. Thanks for the helpful post. My little girl is almost 1 and wanting to eat solids so bad. She is so reactive to so many foods that I’m in the process of researching GAPS and implementing that with her as I introduce solids. Thankfully, she’s enjoyed bone broths and that makes her happy to sip that from a cup during family meals. I’ll be referencing your post as I introduce more solid foods into her diet.

  9. The GAPS recommendations for nuts and egg whites (in the pancakes, weeks 8&9, page 356) and honey (with the cottage cheese, week 10 and after, page 357) seem hard to accept. Everyone else recommends waiting on these.

    Do you have any links for articles supporting these foods?

  10. Ashley Niemela says:

    How many ounces a day of broth do you suppose a 6 month old exclusively breastfed baby starting on GAPS would need? I have had supply issues with my other two- this time is going great and I don’t want to mess that up by giving so much broth! It seems like she recommends an awful lot of extra food for a little baby. My baby is hungry and ready for more than breast milk and LOVES the broth!

  11. Each baby is SO different. I introduced solids like egg yolk and liver to my first at 7 months and while she dabbled in food a bit, she mostly got her nutrients from nursing and didn’t really eat regular meals until about a year and a half. She was grain-free until 18 months and gluten-free until over 2. She was always lean, and I was always struggling to get her to nurse and eat. She was very happy and
    Baby number 2 is 7 months now and EATS LIKE CRAZY! She’ll down an egg yolk, pureed liver and carrots, pureed peas and broth, coconut cream pumpkin puree and applesauce – all for lunch! Then want more of everything for dinner. When I skimp even a little bit on the lard, coconut oil or coconut cream, she wakes up multiple times a night to nurse, but otherwise, she only wakes up once. She is still nursing 4-8 oz every 2-3 hours of the day as well. She’s chubby, but not huge. I plan to keep her grain-free until at least 18 months as well and hopefully 2-3 years, but it’s hard with her father not being on board at all.
    Since I have to work 30 hours a week, I can only completely dictate the diet for a couple years, then have to let go more than I would like.
    I finally JUST convinced my husband that vaccines aren’t perfect. Neither kid has had any vaccinations and he’s been pushing for them. After watching Dr. Tenpenny’s videos, he just said that he’s grateful that we didn’t vaccinate as babies. Still hoping he’ll come my way and decide that vaccinations aren’t best for little girls as well… I’m fighting tooth and nail, as graciously as I can! =)

    • Kristi,what source did you use for your baby food recipes? They sound really good for babies! Coconut cream pumpkin puree…yum! And adding liver to carrots is a great idea! I would love to know your sources.

  12. My doctor told me if I didn’t give my son rice cereal he would become iron deficient. I haven’t given it to him. But I am stressing a bit about his iron intake. He is six months old, and I introduced egg yolk and liver to him. He seemed to do okay but then he vomited pretty bad after a couple weeks. So, I’m holding off on that for awhile. I didn’t realize so many people held off on food for so long while breastfeeding. Its such a relief to know. I nurse my son, and he never seems over hungry, but he does want to get involved with eating when he sees us eating. I’m just not sure at this point what to introduce if he isn’t tolerating the egg yolk.

    • I just watched my kids color, if their cheeks were nice and rosy, and they weren’t lethargic, I figured they were good. There is thought to be some benefit to being slightly low iron in breastfeeding infants, that it protects against parasites or something like that. I don’t have time to grab a link for you, but you might want to google it, it was interesting stuff!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Introducing solids- this is how we introduce solids, we do it really slowly. Please keep in mind also, though, that I produce enough milk easily to do this, and my children thrive on it for 12 months. This might not be best for all families [...]

  2. [...] When To Start Solids With Your Real Food Baby – I think she offers up some great tips! We skipped the purees and went the baby-led weaning route and were very, very glad we did. [...]

  3. [...] Resources: Where to find the Gut and Psychology Syndrome Book Meal Plans for the Full GAPS Diet (which includes nuts, optional cultured dairy, and fruits) What Can I Eat Now? 30 Days on the GAPS Intro Handbook Starting Solids with a GAPS baby or in a GAPS Family [...]

  4. [...] Understanding the affects of gut health on brain and physical development, as described in the GAPS book, empowers parents to make simple healthy choices for their infants.  After having a child with autism, I will always be hyper protective in the crucial first 2 years + when the baby is in utero of their body being able to maintain healthy gut flora and seal the gut wall as it needs to.  (See how Dr Natasha recommends starting baby on solids here) [...]

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