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Real Food for Mother and Baby: a book review, part 1

February 26, 2013

Food is obviously an important subject in our family, and how we feed our kids is probably our #1 motivator for the work we do on the farm. We know that food is medicine, and we are trying to build strong children. Feeding children is fairly straightforward, but what about that transition period when you introduce foods to your babies? This question made the book, Real Food for Mother and Baby; The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby’s First Foods, by Nina Planck, an interesting read for me.

But first a little back story.

We’ve had four children, and fed each of them differently. With Baby #1, we followed the doctor’s recommendations of introducing grains first, and then one food at a time after that. Fruits and veggies, then some meat, and pureeing it all. We started this around six months. I nursed him until the day he turned one, and then that was the end of that. It’s what the pediatrician recommended, so I followed it to a “T”. Which is kind of ironic because we’d given birth to him at home, and weren’t exactly feeling bound to all the “rules” of the AMA. But the baby seemed to thrive and do well, although I did notice that rice was a constipating food, and quickly switched to oats so as not to stop the little guy up. Other than that, we were rule followers.

Baby #2 came along 21 months later, and I had no reason to change my ways. When it was time to introduce solids it quickly became apparent that food did not like her. She was a much hungrier baby, but grains gave her a blistering rash on her rear end. Bananas, green veggies, oats, soy, corn, wheat…everything except rice seemed to make her very unhappy. She went from a delightful baby girl to a screaming mess. I later found out she had a raging yeast infection, which some foods greatly aggravated. Juice and most fruit had to be limited, and then when she was 10 months old we had a surprise: baby #3 was on the way. I couldn’t nurse well because I was so sick and exhausted, so at the age of 10 months with no teeth, she stopped nursing and was on a diet of fairly limited solids. We introduced raw milk around one year, and I was thankful to have that and local eggs as a source of nourishment.

After such a hard time with baby #2, I began to research why Americans feed their babies the way we do. Why do other cultures nurse so much longer? Is it merely a social taboo to nurse for an extended period of time? Do other cultures introduce solids at 6 months like we do? Baby #3 was born (also at home, like the others), and at one week old, was admitted to the hospital with a high temperature. After a spinal tap, catheter, and two rounds of IV antibiotics, all the tests came back negative and he was presumed to have a virus (except he contracted a UTI in the hospital, so we were sent home with an oral antibiotic). After that experience, he was violently allergic to milk, and I can only presume that his gut flora was completely destroyed by all those antibiotics, and when I had the slightest bit of cream in my coffee, we experienced projectile vomiting from our bundle of joy. So I cut out all dairy, and decided to nurse him exclusively until his first birthday so as to avoid any other allergies. He thrived, growing fatter by the day, and I was starving. I didn’t know then, what I know now, about the importance of quality fats in my diet. There wasn’t as much information about allergy alternatives or nearly as many blogs out there offering dairy-free recipes. So instead of replacing the dairy with high fat coconut milk or any alternatives, I just cut it out. We were buying pastured meat and raw milk, but I wasn’t eating enough, and I was wasting away to about 100 lbs. My hormones were getting wacky, and I think that period was influential in what would become a health crisis for the next several years of my life.

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Avocado anyone? No one said this way of eating would be neat!

As as side note, baby #3 is now four years old, and drinks raw milk and eats dairy products with no trouble. We started him on cooked dairy first, and then gave him raw goats milk. I think the enzyme action may have finally healed his gut, and that four-year journey is now over. We learned a lot, and that’s good, because baby #4 shares some similar struggles.

So when baby #4 was on the way, you can guess I was looking for a balance between the standard American diet for babies, and the exclusive nursing route. This book was appealing because it made sense: feed your baby what you eat. No special diets, no rules, just REAL food. The author’s laid back attitudeĀ  balanced by extensive research made a convincing case. She was advocating what should be intuitive. Her cross between a memoir and a science-based menu plan was just what I was looking for.

Next week, I’ll share what I learned and loved about the book, and a few things I would change after trying it out with our baby.

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Birthday breakfast: homemade dark chocolate (coconut oil and raw cacao and stevia) and strawberries- fit for a princess!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 27, 2013 9:19 am

    Very useful! You are a very passionate lady inspires people, atleat me, a lot!

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  1. Real Food for Mother and Baby: a book review, part 2 | Haelen Farm

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