Most parents don’t have the luxury of preparing their babies foods from scratch and since it’s hard to find a reliable and trustworthy company, I prefer to stick with and recommend products made by Baby Gourmet. Not only are the foods made with all organic ingredients and free of all allergenic foods, but the packaging is BPA-free and recipes are designed specifically to compliment babies’ developing digestive system, divided in 3 phases specific for 6+, 7+ or 8+ months of age. I should also note that the foods you feed your infant should be edible to you as well and Baby Gourmet passes the test – another major plus.
Most people have heard the phrase “You are what you eat” but if you’re like most people, you probably don’t consider what it is that you’re exactly eating – where it came from and how it may be affecting your physical and mental health. Believe it or not, the foods that we eat impact our health, right down to the cellular level. Virtually all convenience foods are processed and contain additives, preservatives and other unwanted ingredients that result in a multitude of health consequences. Few people truly know how to read a food label making it hard for them to become informed consumers and even harder to ensure healthy food choices for the whole family.
It becomes even more complicated with infants. New parents are often left confused after receiving recommendations, opinions and advice from family, friends and different health care providers. Once the breastfeeding period is over and food introduction begins, marketing often misleads parents into making unhealthy food choices even though a parents’ intention is always to do right by baby.
What ARE you feeding your baby? Most parents begin introducing foods between 6 and 12 months. At this point, the digestive system is better developed and able to handle certain solid foods but believe it or not, the order in which foods are introduced plays a critical factor in an infants’ health. To make matters worse, recommendations are contradictory creating more confusion for parents.
80% of the immune system lines the digestive system and in order to keep the two separate, the intestinal barrier must be in tact. An infant’s digestive tract is not yet fully developed, even at 6 months, meaning that certain foods may leak through the intestinal barrier, activating the immune system. Chemicals found in processed foods burden the liver, affecting its ability to eliminate toxins that enter the body. The immune system begins producing antibodies leading to physical and mental symptoms along with inflammation. In babies, inflammatory responses can manifest in conditions such as colic, constipation, eczema, ear infections and irritability etc.
Foods that babies are unable to digest sit in the intestinal tract and ferment, producing toxic metabolites that not only lead to further inflammation but can also enter the brain, affecting mood and behavior.
In order to prevent these processes from occurring, I recommend to breastfeed for at least 6 months and avoid the introduction of most inflammatory foods until the third phase of food introduction, as practiced by Baby Gourmet. Studies show that prolonged breastfeeding is protective against food allergies and intolerances. Of course, breastfeeding is not an option for everyone so if using a formula, make sure to avoid inflammatory ingredients and products with too many unknown chemicals. Common foods that result in inflammation include: wheat, dairy (cow products), corn, soy, tree nuts, eggs and shellfish. Foods should all be organic as to enhance nutritional intake and to prevent the exposure of pesticides and other unwanted chemicals.
Traditional nutritional recommendations for food introduction used to state that babies should fed cereal fortified with iron. Today, meat is the first recommended food. Since an infants digestive system is NOT equipped to digest meat, I recommend starting with individual, iron-rich vegetables followed by individual fruits.
In order to fully develop an infants’ palate, the first foods introduced should be given separately from one another. Foods can be introduced as small bite-size pieces (known as baby-led weaning) or can be pureed into a slightly thicker consistency than breast milk. After individual foods are introduced, combination of ingredients can be offered whole or puréed, followed by different textures. If you’re choosing a packaged puree for baby, read the food label and ingredient list to ensure it’s ALL organic and void of chemicals, additives and preservatives.
If baby likes a particular food one day and refuses to eat it the next day, stay patient and try reintroducing it on another day! Studies have shown that it can take up to 10 exposures for an infant to fully accept a food. Parents: lead by example and ensure you are also eating organic, whole foods because at the end of the day we are all reflections of what we eat.
Shelly Reitkop is a Naturopathic Doctor serving patients in the Greater Toronto Area. Her goal is to inspire health by educating, motivating and empowering people to take an active role in their health care journey. Shelly works with people of all ages and although she has an eclectic practice, she has a specialized clinical focus in pediatric health and women’s health, including perinatal care. Shelly believes in an integrative approach to optimal health and works closely with Medical Doctors and other health care providers to provide the most elite form of comprehensive care. She utilizes a number of different modalities including: Nutrition and Nutritional Supplementation, Botanical Supplementation, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, Homeopathy and Lifestyle Counseling. Her emphasis is on whole family nutrition and believes that ‘you are what you eat’ and ‘small changes make big differences.’ Her goal is to guide families on how they can be their happiest and healthiest.
Shelly is a graduate of The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) and is an active member of the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapies. She is pleased to be a member of the Association of Perinatal Naturopathic Doctors (APND), Canadian Society of Orthomolecular Medicine (CSOM) and Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors (OAND).
Posted on May 11, 2012
Most baby foods taste really gross. Baby Gourmet tastes delicious.
Enya and baby London