The baby food lie

When your baby hits 6 months, your pedi will start pushing lists of what to feed your baby when.  Many of them just go by these lists that say to start at 6 months and don’t even bother with the signs of readiness (e.g. a baby is not ready for solids if when you push food in it comes right back out… that’s called the tongue thrust reflex and it is for baby’s protection).

They’ll then say, start with manufactured rice cereal.  Then move to another cereal, then another.  Then you get to try banana and on and on.  One food at a time, every three days you get to try a new food off some list.  The AP books have a different list suggesting starting with avocado, banana, or I think mango (or was it sweet potato) as a first food.

The baby manufacturers push expensive tiny jars of puree on you.  The maternal guilt producing industry says you must make your own lovingly hand pureed organic baby food from local fruits and veggies using recipes from Super Baby Food.

It turns out there is ZERO SCIENCE on what foods to feed babies when.  In fact, as made a big splash when my little one was tiny, different cultures have different first foods… some of them even eat meat first and chicken has many signs of being a great first baby food.

Part of the reason for the slow introduction is because of concerns about allergies.  If your baby has an allergic reaction, they want to be able to isolate exactly which food caused it.  Of course, they still don’t know whether early introduction causes allergies or prevents them in the case of common allergens such as peanuts.  That science goes back and forth.  (Disclaimer:  You should still wait to introduce things that have a low probability of causing problems but would cause dire problems … like honey (botulism), raw milk (all sorts of nasties) etc. etc.)

As we found out when our own wee one started grabbing every food in sight, you do not need to buy Super Baby Food and lovingly create your own individualized homemade organic food.  You also don’t need to buy the little jars.  The baby can eat what you eat, period.  And if your baby is a late eater like ours was (around 8.5 months), you don’t even need to run what you’re eating through a food mill.  You can just cut it small and make sure it isn’t a choking hazard.

That’s right.  We skipped baby food entirely.  The only mushy foods ze ate were things that come mushy naturally.  Banana.  Oatmeal.  Avocado.  When the pincer grasp kicked in ze demanded to eat only things ze could pick up anyway.

Baby food is such a time sink.  It was so freeing to find out that this whole baby food puree thing that so many parents get worked up over is just one big scam.  Unnecessary.  Maybe if you’ve got a baby ready for solids right at 6 months, but even then, just get a food mill and run whatever you’re having for dinner through it while you eat.  Much simpler.  Apparently there’s also a mesh bag you can buy to put whole fruit in for the 6 month set to suck on without choking.

I believe you can find out more about this hippie movement through the google search phrase “child led weaning.”  Lazy parenting rocks!

#2 adds:  don’t get rid of that baby food mill, either.  You will need it when you have oral surgery and are tired of jello.

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Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: , . 22 Comments »

22 Responses to “The baby food lie”

  1. Everyday Tips Says:

    It’s funny, I did exactly what you said peds tell you to do. I gave cereal at a certain time, although I skipped rice and went to barley as the rice cereal was not as appreciated.

    I so remember buying all those millions of tiny jars each week. I never minded it though because they were portable and pretty inexpensive. (I always had coupons…) I didn’t have mom guilt about organic, homemade food. At one point I had 3 kids aged 3 and under and I was lucky anyone ate at all.

    I agree with your point though. The baby will gravitate toward what they want. Same with nursing, the baby will stop when they have had enough. (At least mine did.)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Man, it was so easy to keep my weight down when (s)he was nursing. I almost considered having a second just to keep trim without effort but quickly decided that was not a good reason to have another baby.

      I seriously doubt that it hurts to do what pedis say. Just there’s no research on it and there is some anthropological research that babies thrive on many different methods of feeding early on.

  2. Jacq @ Single Mom Rich Mom Says:

    I was what dairy farmers would call “a poor milker” with my oldest and it didn’t seem to matter how much oxytocin I snorted, it didn’t work. Finally when my oldest was 3 weeks old – he was 2 weeks overdue so was technically 5 weeks old, my mom said “that baby’s hungry” and she started feeding him solid food – it was a German pudding (can’t recall the name but it had eggs and milk). He gobbled it up like crazy and was fine – healthiest kid I’ve ever seen. Also slept through the night at that point, so I’m not so sure about pediatrician’s recommendations.
    But for the second one I did follow the recommended guidelines. No early sleeping through the night with that one. :-(

  3. Baby First Stuffs: How long can baby food in the jars be kept in the fridge? Says:

    [...] The baby food lie « Grumpy rumblings of the untenured [...]

  4. Money Reasons Says:

    We did the instructions in the baby books around the food regiment, like good little sheep…

    It was easy, but you bring up some great points… Look at formula vs breast feeding. Now we know that breast milk beats the tar out of formula milk.

    Since I was raised on formula milk, perhaps that explains my imperfections… Or at least that’s what I’m going to claim. (lol)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Part of the problem with being an academic is that you spend a lot of time trying to figure out why they say to do X, Y, or Z. Nursing is a great time to scope out PubMed for original research (but not such a great time to say, puree your own baby food).

  5. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    I’m pretty sure that pre-agricultural human beings weren’t making vegetable purees for their babies. Maybe they chewed shitte up and then spitte it out and gave little pieces to the babies?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Some of them probably did, but if you read the anthropology stuff there’s been a range of feeding baby options that don’t involve pre-mastication. Toddlers can chew pretty well with just their gums. Extended nursing is also a lot more common in hunter-gatherer societies (and really anyplace but the current West).

  6. MoneyCone Says:

    Same here! Our little one refused to touch any of the jarred junk! Loves blueberries, wish he would take to some veggies as well!

  7. Lindy Mint Says:

    With my first I followed the pediatric book. My second followed his own drum and skipped jarred baby food too. Have you seen the movie Away We Go? There’s a funny hippie scene in it.

  8. Dame Eleanor Hull Says:

    Chicken baby food is the key (mixed with regular cat food about half & half) to getting our pickiest feline to eat.

    In case you didn’t already know that ours is not a normal household.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Depending on who you believe, the animal-food industry is also a big scam. I haven’t done any real research on this though, and we just give Purina One sensitive systems because the big cat doesn’t throw that up and it keeps the little cat’s fur silky instead of dry. We also give fancy feast/friskies for our little cat’s coat quality. They seem to be doing fine so I haven’t guilted myself into making organic local catfood from scratch …

  9. bogart Says:

    I’ve been away and am late to the party, but thought I’d jump in with the news that my LO’s first solid food was refried beans. Hey, we were eating out, he seemed (and was) interested, it’s all good. I’m a pretty lax mama (first time to this age but have 2 adult stepkids so that may have given me some perspective) and was (and am) pretty chill but (and?) did find the rice cereal useful to thicken other stuff (commercial baby food, yogurt) to a point where it would stay on a spoon while DS fed himself.

  10. Picky eating stage: Passed! Level up! « Grumpy rumblings of the untenured Says:

    [...] As we mentioned before, there’s no real science on what order to start foods.  Different cultures do things differently and the human race would probably have died out a long long time ago if there was only one way to get kids started on solid food.  People say things about starting rice cereal first or not starting rice cereal first or starting veggies but not fruit first etc.  I kind of doubt that it matters if a kid’s first taste of food is banana or broccoli, but some people think if you start with a veggie you’ll get a less-picky eater.  We didn’t start with rice cereal because refined grains aren’t allowed in our house (insulin problems).  (If you care, banana was our first food… DC was not interested in solid food one day, then next day ze stole my banana from my hand and ate it.) [...]

  11. Food and DC2 « Grumpy rumblings of the half-tenured Says:

    [...] does that mean that more traditional methods of introducing solids are wrong?  Probably not.  We’re just lazy and take the least [...]


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