My wife and I had our first child 10 months ago as of this writing (this article originally appeared at Rebooted Body) — our beautiful daughter Noelle. We both agreed that we would shun the majority of advice offered by conventional wisdom and mainstream sources as they just don’t align with raising a happy, healthy, rebooted baby.
Childhood obesity, adult diseases finding their way to children’s bodies, kids with no mobility or agility, broken spirits, tiny minds programmed by television and electronic games, piss poor education maligned with government babysitting, and a continuing laundry list: that’s the definition of what it means to be a child in today’s world.
Not us. Not her.
How the mainstream does weaning.
Even though eating at a restaurant isn’t optimal, my wife and I love to go out. And we enjoy taking our daughter with us. What we don’t enjoy is seeing all the babies eating baby cereal.
That’s the #1 go to food for parents starting their babies on solids and it’s mind blowing. Have you read the ingredients on this stuff? It’s gluten, GMOs, chemicals, sugar, and unhealthy oils pressed into little pellets.
So, from the start we’re saying: here, let me predispose you to sugar addiction, disease, and a busted metabolism.
Is that really what’s best?
The second thing we see a lot of is babies being fed with a spoon from a jar. While baby food is far healthier than baby cereal, it’s the process of eating that’s actually in question here. More on that later.
What do babies need from food?
Babies need what adults need: vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. There is a dietary requirement for these things. Baby cereal has precisely none of those things (no matter how many vitamins it says baby cereal is “fortified” with).
You know what babies (and all humans) have no dietary requirement for? You guessed it: wheat, chemicals, added sugars, and corn. You know what baby cereal is made of? All of those things.
What percentage of babies do you think eat these processed foods? I haven’t done any studies but based on observation I’d say the vast majority. And then — just like with our grown human population — we prescribe them medications to deal with the ailments that are likely caused by these eating habits.
Babies are crawling around with eczema, constipation, reflux, and more. In most cases, these ailments are completely preventable. So the obvious question is: are we doing what’s best for children or what’s best for the agricultural industry?
What should babies be eating?
Babies should be eating what we eat (and we should be eating the right things).
This is really important. A constant theme is going to run through everything I talk about: modeling. If you want your children to behave a certain way, you must first behave that way yourself. Got it?
We feed Noelle grass fed ground beef, sweet potato, mango, avocado, blueberries, apple, carrots, and similar. It’s just cut up pieces from whatever we’re eating. It’s not processed and it’s not from a jar.
Is it convenient? No. Is it what’s best for her? Yes.
How they’re eating is just as important as what they’re eating.
Part of raising and leading healthy, happy children is letting them explore the world around them. And since, by nature, they don’t have much control over their lives at this stage, we need to offer them as much control as possible.
Baby led weaning is an important part of all of this.
It starts by offering food in front of them (preferably when they’re not restrained by a device like a high chair) and just observing. The picture at the top of this post is my daughter on the floor exploring avocado.
If the baby hasn’t yet developed a pincher grasp and coordination that’s adequate enough to get the food to their own mouth, they’re not ready to eat yet so stick to the breast milk. If they’ve already developed those skills, sit back and let them experience the empowerment of feeding themselves.
That’s what we’re after here: babies learning about the world and succeeding on their own. Shoving a spoon in their mouth while making airplane noises is akin to a food dictatorship where baby is treated like both an idiot and a toy. That’s no way for a rebooted baby to grow up.
If you’ve done the spoon thing before and all the antics that go along with it, you don’t have to feel guilty. Nobody is sentencing you to bad parent land. Just commit to doing better in the future. That’s all we’re about because it’s all we can do.
Commit to what’s best for the baby.
If you’re choosing what to feed and a method of feeding based on what’s convenient and least messy, I want to challenge you to take a few steps back.
Our goal as parents is to do what’s best, not what’s easiest. You made the choice to make a baby, now meet their needs wholeheartedly rather than haphazardly.
Action plan: Choose real food, don’t over-prepare it for them (for example, a banana doesn’t need to be cut into pieces — just let them pick the thing up and figure it out), and then let them eat it on their own.
Have you tried baby led weaning before? Are you interested, but have questions? Let us know in the comments section below…