Choosing Sage’s first solid food experience was something I thought about a lot. I didn’t want him to be a sugar addict so I didn’t want to give him fruit, but I also wanted him to enjoy the experience. I had a list of foods and appropriate ages to reduce food intolerance from Bastyr Naturopathic program and had intended to follow the recommendations listed. I chose sweet potato because in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it’s a food that nourished the spleen/earth element – which is always a good thing, since baby’s have weak digestive systems. The spleen is in charge of digestion.
Well, things didn’t really go as planned. Although Sage ate the sweet potato, he actually broke out with red rash on his cheeks and bum. Both of these are signs that a food isn’t ideal for a baby at that time. I thought it strange because sweet potato is such a mild food but best to listen to your baby.
Food reactions include:
Rash around mouth or anus
Hyperactivity or lethargy
Runny or stuffy nose
Change in personality
Diarrhea or mucus in stools
Skin reactions (rash, itching, redness)
Allergic shiners (dark circles under eyes)
So I stopped the sweet potato and moved on to banana. Sage loved banana. The child yells between mouthfuls because he can’t get enough. Although I was apprehensive to give him banana as a first food due to it’s high sugar content, it’s actually lower on the glycemic index than sweet potato! Ripe banana is a great food for babies because it contains amylase enzymes to digest carbohydrates. It’s also a wonderful source of vitamin B6.
I then decided not to fully follow the Bastyr list but create my own mixing their suggestions with the suggestions from The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care, by Morell and Cowan. I basically would be introducing proteins much sooner but still waiting to introduce grains, nuts, and seeds last.
Egg yolks as first food
In the Nourishing Traditions Book they suggest baby’s first food to be egg yolks. I know most people find that to be strange but here’s why:
Egg yolks are rich in choline, cholesterol and other brain nourishing substance. Cholesterol is vital for the insulation of the nerves in the brain and the entire nervous system. It helps with fat digestion by increasing the formation of bile acids and is necessary for the production of many hormones. Choline is another critical nutrient for brain development. A study published in 2002 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared the nutritional effects of feeding weaning infants six to twelve months of age regular egg yolks, enriched egg yolks, and an otherwise normal diet. The researchers found that both breastfed and formula fed infants who consumed the egg yolks had improved iron levels when compared to infants who did not.
In TCM the egg yolk targets the heart and kidneys and is a yin and blood tonic. The taste is sweet and the thermal energy is neutral.
It’s important not to feed the egg white to infants. The white portion is more difficult to digest and most often causes allergic reactions.
Most babies love egg yolk but some babies react badly by vommitting. If this happens it could be due to the richness. It is best to introduce slowly with just a half a teaspoon at a time. Introduction of egg yolk could be as early as 4 months.
How to Prepare
To prepare boil water then turn down to a simmer. Add raw egg and return water to a rolling boil. Depending on the elevation of where you live boil egg for 3-6 minutes. (In Santa Fe at 7000 feet it takes 6 minutes) You want the white to be congealed but the yolk to be slightly soft. Discard the white and add a little sea salt to the yolk. Mash and mix then serve.
Other general recommendations
The mother should always nurse the infant first before offering a solid food. Offer whole foods in as close to a natural state as possible (ie fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains and mashing or grating them to avoid choking and to make them more easily digestible). You may offer food from your own diet as long as it is a single food, not combined with other ingredients, in order to isolate allergic reactions. Wait 4-6 days between new foods to watch for any food reactions listed above. Offer sippy cups with water around 6 months to introduce the idea and to encourage the intake of fluids. Avoid offering fruit juice or high carbohydrate drinks like rice milk as they are low in nutritional value and high in sugar.
Some of Sage’s other first foods include mashed avocado, applesauce, and pureed beets. I intend to make some bone broth soon and make him some pureed meats. Turns out meat is better than the standard cereal for weaning because it has higher levels of protein, zinc, iron and B vitamins. Plus it is rare for a baby to have allergic reaction to meat.
Introducing solids to Sage has been so much fun – I really enjoy making him healthy whole foods for his meals. As anyone can tell by looking at him, that boy loves to eat!
Feel free to share any first food experiences or suggestions, I would love to hear them.