Introducing Solids

The introduction of solid foods was a very exciting event in our house. We love food and were so excited about having our  little people join us at meal times. Before starting we talked about it for a few weeks and studied a few of our favourite resources to get an understanding of the key guidelines for introducing foods, which foods to introduce when, and how to minimize the risk of allergies, food reactions and autoimmunity.

It was an exciting and very messy journey but we loved it.. and so did our kids.

image from feedkids.com
image from feedkids.com

My first experience was with my son… 4 years ago now. I felt it was a really special occasion the first time we prepared something other than breast milk for him and we couldn’t wait to see his reaction. It had made it easier that in the lead up, we had been given him little wooden spoons to play with which he thoroughly enjoyed putting in his mouth. It wasn’t hard to get him excited about the little spoons again, this time with something exciting on them.

We kept the same routine when we were preparing him for food, I would bring him into the kitchen with me and show him what I am doing as I boil, steam, bake or puree. He wants to see, touch and taste everything. I would get out his little bib (with little scoop bucket at the bottom to catch all the falling bits) and he would flap his arms and legs wildly and gurgle with excitement. He knew what was coming. As soon as I got near him with the bowl and spoon, he would reach out and grab it. He was one strong little man.. and still is actually. It took a lot of effort to pry the bowl or the spoon from his chubby little hands. He would put his hands in it, rubs it all around, screech with excitement, meanwhile little hand covered in muck were flailing around flicking bits of food around and rubbing it all over his face, eyes, clothes and hair.

It was the messiest time of the day.. and my experience didn’t seem to help with my daughter the second time around. It was still messy and exciting and awesome.

I still remember the very first time I fed him, I did so with little thought to much else. I were just so excited, that once that little bowl and food was ready to go, we just got straight in there. We just sat on his playmat and started. It wasn’t until I was in the shower afterwards pulling out the glug from my hair, washing both mine and his clothes and wiping down the floor, the mat and some toys that just happened to be within range; that I realized this was going to be a pretty crazy time of day.

The second time, I was prepared and approached it with military precision. Both he and I were wearing minimal clothing and I had my hair tied back, bandana in place trying to cover of much as possible. I cleared the mat, moved everything out of reach and had both a wet cloth and teatowel at the ready. Did it help? Mmm maybe a little. Was it any cleaner? Not a chance.  We hopped straight into the shower afterwards. Maybe we should have just eaten in the shower?

I remember wondering how much food he was actually getting into his mouth; we both seem to wear so much of it and his bib was always covered in residue. His excitement made it all worthwhile though and I looked forward to it as much as he did … despite the mess. Summer was much easier; we just ate outside and then hosed down afterwards.

I bought the most awesome highchair which attaches to the table and I used it for both my kids, I even bought a second one for my parents house and we took it with us whenever we travelled.  It was perfect for us as we started out in such a tiny apartment, we really didn’t have room for another chair.

So, how do you know when is the right time to start solids?

6 months is around about the time that solids are usually introduced, some people start earlier but I read quite extensively about a baby’s stomach development and although they may be showing signs of readiness, their little digestive systems (even after the age of 6 months) are still underdeveloped – especially with regard to breaking down carbohydrates. It’s really important to wait until at least 6 months before offering anything other than breast-milk and then start slowly and trial new foods for 4 days before moving onto the next. It’s important to start with foods that are easy for their little systems whilst being as nutrient dense as possible.

For a lot of people, our list of foods is probably going to come as quite a shock. We’ve had quite a few strange looks and some odd comment from people who seem to think we are pretty ‘out there’ in our thinking. I’m surprised really to find so much resistance to good nourishing foods whilst there is widespread acceptance of feeding babies and young children highly processed junk.

 So, in order of introduction, here is our list of first foods:

  1. Egg Yolk
  2. Raw Liver
  3. Fermented Cod Liver Oil
  4. Brains
  5. Pumpkin, Sweet potato, Carrot, Parsnips
  6. Avocado and Banana

Are you freaked out yet? It’s ok. That’s the reaction we get most of the time; but its only because the vast majority of people are being told to rush out and buy Iron fortified Rice Cereal. Excuse me while I take a moment to scream and rip my hair out. I find this appalling.  On what planet does it make sense for your babies’ first food to be a highly processed, man made product with virtually zero nutritional value?  It just doesn’t make any sense to me at all.

Chris Kresser (The Healthy Baby Code) says:

“A baby’s digestive system is also immature and allows large particles of food to be absorbed. If these particles get into the bloodstream, they can cause an immune reaction (manifesting as asthma, food allergies, respiratory allergies, skin conditions, etc.).

Also, babies have limited enzyme production, which is necessary for the digestion of foods. It takes up to 28 months, around the time when the molar teeth are completely developed, for carbohydrate digesting enzymes like amylase to become fully functional. Babies do produce pepsin and proteolytic enzymes, as well as digestive juices (hydrochloric acid) that allow them to digest protein and fat. (This explains why proteins and fats should always be the first foods introduced after six months.)”

 Chris Kresser, Weston Price and Jude Blereau all advocate that an egg yolk per day [free range only] is an excellent first food for 
a baby.

egg

“Egg yolk, brain and liver are all exceptionally rich sources of the fat-soluble vitamins A and D, cholesterol and a wide range of other nutrients that babies will require for development of the brain and nervous system. They are easily digested, and are well known as first foods in most traditional cultures and even up until 50 years or so ago were commonly used in ours. “ [Jude Blereau – Author of Wholefood for Children]

And while egg yolks are excellent sources of nutrition for growing babies, the egg white should not be given before one year of age. The white contains difficult to digest proteins that your baby will not be able to easily break down, so feeding whites too soon can increase the risk of food allergies.

So how do you do it?

Place one egg into a saucepan of boiling water and cook for 3 minutes, a little longer if the egg is a large one. Cut the top off the egg and poke the yolk so that it runs out into a bowl or if possible, scoop out the egg yolk and discard the white. Serve the yolk stand alone to your baby for 4 days – if there are no adverse reactions, you can continue to add a cooked yolk each day to vegetable purees and liver.

The liver is pretty easy too, we have organic (grass fed) beef livers that have been minced in our freezer. I just shave off a small amount of frozen raw liver into the egg yolk or vegetable puree. The warmth of the egg or the veggies will lightly cook the liver. Super easy. If you are wondering whether my kids freaked out? They didn’t. They loved it.

Since I was 8 months old I’ve always eaten at the table with my family, it was a big deal for my parents and food has always been a large part of our culture. It felt the same for me when I was bringing our children to the table, their excitement most certainly matched my own.  Our intention is to assist our children to consistently make excellent food choices as they grow up, until then, we are giving them the absolute best start possible.

Feel free to share your thoughts on first foods and how you went introducing solids. It’s certainly a fun time and I would love to hear from you.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Keely says:

    Hi Max, I just loved reading this post! Your list of first foods shocked me a little at first, I have to admit, but since reading and thinking about all that you have said I am keen to give it a go myself. For lunch today we are going to try the egg… I will let you know how I go also. I am also interested in trying the liver, would you mind telling me where you get yours from? Thanks for all the great information, Keely x

    1. maxiemama says:

      Hi Keely, thanks so much for your note. That is so exciting, wonderful that you are going to try all of this too.
      With the egg, just remember to ensure there is no egg white in there.
      We buy all our organic beef direct from Dandaragan Organic Beef, their animals are all grass fed and grass finished which means that they have never had any grains.
      Here is their website: http://www.dandaraganorganicbeef.com.au
      We order via email and order in bulk (approx 20kg at a time) and the meat is fantastic. When you order you will need to specifically ask for the liver of your animal as they normally dont provide it.
      When preparing the liver, we have found that the easiest way to do it is to get it minced at your local butcher and then freeze a container of it. You then literally grate it off with a grater into a bowl (about half a teaspoon at a time to start) and then pour your egg yolk over the liver which lightly cooks it.
      Egg yolk and liver are some of the most nourishing foods available, I hope your little one loves it. If you get a chance, I would really love to hear how it went.
      Thank you again Keely.

  2. Keely says:

    Hi Max,
    Thank you for providing all of those details. We have since tried the egg and the liver and my little girl loves them both and there have been no bad reactions to either. I am embarrassed to say that I was using ‘rice cereal’ and since reading what you have said I agree that it really doesn’t make sense to give our little ones such highly processed ‘clag’. So I am not going to use that and instead stick to the liver and egg. I have told a few people and their reactions are quite funny actually. But fortunately my mum and my husband think that it is the most wonderful thing that I am doing so it is nice that I feel supported in this food venture. Needless to say bubs loves these foods and she has even started to do a little dance of excitement when we get the food bowl out. I was wondering though how often do you feed your little one liver and egg? And what meals are you doing? We are only doing lunch and dinner.
    Keely 🙂

    1. maxiemama says:

      Way to go Keely, that’s brilliant. I am so glad she is enjoying it and wonderful to hear that you have such strong support around you. It is most important in your inner circle isn’t it.
      I am preparing a breakfast and a dinner, no lunch at this stage. I use the liver and the egg and any known favourites in the evening and only introduce new foods in the morning. So for example, this week, we have offered egg and liver every evening before bed and 4 mornings of avocado and 3 mornings of banana. There was one night this week where he finished up the liver and egg so quickly and seemed to be keen for more so I offered some avocado as well.
      My research has indicated (contrary to popular belief) that being such a nutrient rich food, if your baby tolerates egg really well, you can offer more than one egg yolk in a day. A lot of people seem to focus on the ‘cholesterol’ issue but I tend to disagree. Basically, if she loves it, there’s no harm in giving egg and liver more than once in a day if you are comfortable doing so.

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