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Get the White Out of Baby's First Foods

December 20, 2010 | 149,410 views
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baby eating his breakfastAlmost every childcare book offers the same advice about a baby's first solid meal -- start them first on rice cereal mixed with breast milk or formula. This has been received wisdom for 60 years.

But this is because in the 1950's, baby food companies launched an advertising blitz trumpeting the benefits of white rice cereal.

But there is no scientific basis for this recommendation. None at all. And now, concerned about increasing childhood obesity, some pediatricians want to change how babies eat.

If babies are getting used to the taste of highly processed white rice and flour, it could set them up for a lifetime of bad habits.

USA Today reports:

"White rice -- after processing strips away fiber, vitamins and other nutrients -- is a 'nutritional disaster' ... White rice and flour turn to sugar in the body 'almost instantly,' ... raising blood sugar and insulin levels."

What Are GMOs?

From April 19th through April 25th we launch GMO Awareness Week. We set aside an entire week dedicated to providing you with information on GMOs and labeling initiatives.

GMOs are a product of genetic engineering, meaning their genetic makeup has been altered to induce a variety of “unique” traits to crops, such as making them drought-resistant or giving them “more nutrients.” GMO proponents claim that genetic engineering is “safe and beneficial,” and that it advances the agricultural industry. They also say that GMOs help ensure the global food supply and sustainability. But is there any truth to these claims? I believe not. For years, I've stated the belief that GMOs pose one of the greatest threats to life on the planet. Genetic engineering is NOT the safe and beneficial technology that it is touted to be.

Help Support GMO Labeling

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)—Monsanto’s Evil Twin—is pulling out all the stops to keep you in the dark about what’s in your food. For nearly two decades, Monsanto and corporate agribusiness have exercised near-dictatorial control over American agriculture. For example, Monsanto has made many claims that glyphosate in Roundup is harmless to animals and humans. However, recently the World Health Organization (WHO) had their research team test glyphosate and have labeled it a probable carcinogen.

Public opinion around the biotech industry's contamination of our food supply and destruction of our environment has reached the tipping point. We're fighting back. That's why I was the first to push for GMO labeling. I donated a significant sum to the first ballot initiative in California in 2012, which inspired others to donate to the campaign as well. We technically "lost the vote, but we are winning the war, as these labeling initiatives have raised a considerable amount of public awareness.

The insanity has gone far enough, which is why I encourage you to boycott every single product owned by members of the GMA, including natural and organic brands. More than 80 percent of our support comes from individual consumers like you, who understand that real change comes from the grassroots.

Thankfully, we have organizations like the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) to fight back against these junk food manufacturers, pesticide producers, and corporate giants.

Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More

Together, Let's Help OCA Get The Funding They Deserve

Let’s Help OCA get the funding it deserves. I have found very few organizations who are as effective and efficient as OCA. It’s a public interest organization dedicated to promoting health justice and sustainability. A central focus of the OCA is building a healthy, equitable, and sustainable system of food production and consumption. That's why I'm proud to announce I will be matching donations up to $250,000 this week.

Please make a donation to help OCA fight for GMO labeling.

Donate Today!


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

If you want to give your baby the best start nutritionally, do not follow the advice in most baby books encouraging you to start feeding rice cereal. Other than breast milk or formula, rice is the number one source of calories for infants in the first year of life, according to Stanford University pediatrician Alan Greene, and this is a nutritional disaster.

Optimal Nutrition for the First Year of Life

Ideally, your baby should be breastfed exclusively -- meaning no other food or water is supplemented -- for at least the first 6 months. Then, at the age of 6 or 9 months, you can begin to supplement with solid foods (while still continuing to breastfeed as well).

Choosing what those solid foods will be is incredibly important, but unfortunately most pediatricians encourage their patients to start rice cereal at about 4 to 6 months of age. White rice is a refined carbohydrate, a group of highly processed, nutritionally devoid foods that have been linked to increased rates of heart disease, insulin resistance, eye damage and cancer in adults, and are worthless nutritionally for infants as well.

Feeding infants cereal has been associated with an increased risk of type 1 diabetes and may prime your baby's appetite for a lifetime of processed carbs in the form of white bread, cookies and cakes.

A diet based on these types of refined carbs is responsible for many bulging stomachs and fat rolls in thighs and chins, and even worse, high insulin levels that lead to diabetes and suppress two other important hormones -- glucagons and growth hormones -- that are responsible for burning fat and sugar and promoting muscle development, respectively.

Insulin from excess carbohydrates promotes fat, and then wards off your body's ability to lose that fat. Excess weight and obesity not only lead to heart disease but also a wide variety of other diseases later in life.

What Should Your Baby's First Solid Food Be?

You can easily cross any form of grain-based infant cereal off of this list. When flour is refined to make cereal, the most nutritious part of the grain is removed, so the flour essentially becomes a form of sugar.

When you feed your baby a bowl of infant cereal, picture yourself dipping directly into your sugar bowl and feeding baby a spoon or two, because that's essentially what it amounts to.

So what's a better option?

Egg yolk.

According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, egg yolk should be your baby's first solid food, starting as early as 4 months, whether your baby is breastfed or formula-fed. Egg yolks from free-range hens will contain the special long-chain fatty acids so critical for the optimal development of your child's brain and nervous system.

However, the egg whites may cause an allergic reaction so they're best avoided until your child is at least 1 year old.

Here's a simple, healthy recipe you may want to try:

  • 1 organic egg from a pasture-fed (free-range) chicken
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated raw, frozen organic liver (optional)
  • pinch natural unprocessed salt

Boil the egg for 3 1/2 minutes. Place in a bowl and peel off the shell. Remove the egg white and discard. The yolk should be soft and warm, not hot, with its enzyme content intact. Sprinkle with a small amount of natural salt.

If you wish to add liver, grate it on the small holes of a grater while frozen. Allow to warm up and stir into the egg yolk.

After that, freshly pureed, organic vegetables are an excellent option. The following foods are soft and packed with nutrition for young infants:

A few months later, as more teeth begin to erupt and the GI tract epithelium begins to mature, you can add even more variety, including:

  • Cooked greens, finely chopped or pureed, such as kale, chard, collards, spinach
  • Squashes, such as butternut, acorn and other winter squashes
  • Mashed asparagus
  • Raw nut butters
  • Seaweeds that become soft on soaking, such as wakame or nori

From there you can expand even more, including:

  • Chicken, turkey or other meat (organic and pasture-raised/grass-fed preferably)
  • Eggs
  • Raw milk cheese or raw milk yogurt

How to Introduce Solid Foods

Your baby will give you signs that he's ready to start eating solid foods. He should be able to sit up with support, reach for toys and mouth his hands or toys. Your baby may also begin to watch you more intently as you eat, open his mouth like you do when you eat or reach for food off your plate.

When introducing new foods, do so one at a time at intervals of two to three days. This helps your baby get used to the food and will also help you reveal any food sensitivities or allergies. Small serving sizes, even just a spoonful or two, are best to start.

As your infant gets older you can progress from pureed foods to finger foods she can feed herself, but be sure they are chopped small enough so they are not a choking hazard. Raisins, nuts, popcorn and other small foods should not be given to young infants because of the choking risk.

Be Wary of Commercial Baby Foods

I have clear memories of Gerber baby food products when my twin brother and sister (who are 11 years younger than me) were growing up. I thought that was the best food they could possibly have, and I held that impression even into medical school.

But the truth is, outside of breast milk, the best foods you can give your baby are those you prepare fresh at home. Store-bought versions just cannot compare, and often contain unhealthy ingredients your baby is far better off without.

For instance, Mead Johnson's Enfagrow, a nutritional supplement for toddlers, is little more than fortified milk with added sugar. The first three ingredients on the label are just that: whole milk, nonfat milk and sugar. Other weaning biscuits for toddlers can contain up to 29 percent sugar or even contain trans fats, both of which are simply atrocious for adults, let alone infants.

Even organic baby foods can contain excessive amounts of processed salt, or may expose your infant to toxic contaminants like BPA from plastic containers, even if the content itself is agreeable.

When you make homemade baby food, however, you have complete control over the ingredients; no unresolved questions about potential additives, preservatives, mysterious "natural flavors," and so on.

Yes, it may require a little more time -- but in the end, it's up to you to decide what the health of your family is worth to you.

Simply cooking a squash or sweet potato, mashing it up and putting it into an ice cube tray is an easy way to have ready-made multiple servings available for the rest of the week.

As your child gets older, he can eat most of the same types of foods that you do, simply pureed into a softer form or cut into very small toddler-sized pieces. As with your own diet, whole foods -- not processed "pseudo-foods" -- will give your infant the best nutritional start possible. 

[+] Sources and References

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