Introducing food groups to a child
Can I give my child a completely raw food diet, he is 11 months old. Also what are your thoughts regarding red meat and infants or toddlers?
Introducing food groups into a childs diet
Introducing the food groups into your childs diet is best done slowly, begin with good quality foods seperately and go slowly to build up the variety of foods. It is best to wait for at least five days between each food type. You might want to begin with pumpkin, banana or paw paw and then after five days introduce another food such as peas, carrots, avocado or sweet potatoes. Choose foods which are non-allergic and organic to give your child the best start in life. It is recommended by the World Health Organisation to begin to introduce foods from the age of around 6 months, but each child is different and around this time it is good to use your intuition to decide when is best to introduce your baby to food, ideally when your child begins to show an interest.
Healthy children thrive on a variety of foods which includes all of the, food groups (grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy foods, meats). Raw food diets are currently experiencing increased attention in the Western world. The typical western diet of red meat, sugar, dairy and processed foods is being reexamined and the influence of other cultures is combining to provide more food and diet choices. A completely raw food diet has pros and cons. The raw food diet if explained in traditional Chinese Medicine is energetically cooling and alkalising. By actively reducing the amount of acidic foods one consumes and replacing it with alkalising foods, naturally better health will be achieved especially if one is suffering from acidic conditions such as inflammatory skin conditions, bowel inflammation or digestive acidity. On the other hand a completely raw food diet can be too damp for some individuals who require tapas (digestive fire) in order to stimulate their digestion. Some people find that a diet which only includes raw foods dramatically contributes to a sluggish and damp digestive environment which may result in constipation and candida.
The middle path is generally the best advice when it comes to diet. When you are not wanting to treat a specific condition then a wide variety of fresh and preferably organic ( to avoid the presence of pesticides) whole foods, introduced slowly and individually to avoid the development of food allergies is often the best way to go. If you do decide to go totally raw please soak any grains in water for at least 10 hours to help break down the phytates and starches and puree them with vegetables or fruits.
Introducing foods to an infant
- Giving red meat to an infant in the first year is not necessary if you are still breast feeding at least once or twice a day, this is because the baby will be recieving lactoferrin and proteins from the breast milk. If you are not breast feeding and are giving bottle formula most of these are fortified with iron and protein so it should not be a problem. Red meat protein can be difficult for an immature digestive system to breakdown, You can also add a little sea kelp to the food if you are concerned about providing enough iron.
- Alternatively lightly toasted organic whole grains can be ground in a coffee grinder (making sure it isn't also used for coffee) to create nutricious baby cereals. A great website that contains a recipe for baby cereal can be found at this link - http://www.mothering.com/recipes/whole-grain-baby-cereal
- It is not recommended to introduce dairy, wheat or sugar in the first year of a babies life
- Begin with easy foods such as bananas, pumpkin and avocado
- Rather than pureed foods which may bore your baby you can give chunks of food which are bigger than the babies fist. Babies below one year will play with food if given in this form and will begin to have a relationship with the food and explore the taste and texture of it
- Introduce foods slowly so they do not become overwhelmed
- It is thought that a child will accept a food after the palate has experienced the flavour at least 8 times. Therefore if your child seems to dislike a food keep persisting to get them to try it more than once or twice
- Avoid any potentially allergic foods (nuts, seafood, citrus, dairy)
- Avoid artificial colours, flavours and preservatives and processed foods
- Avoid introducing dairy foods, processed foods, sugar and refined foods as these may cause slight reactions because an infants digestive system is sensitive and immature