Infant Formulas And Cereals. A Step In The Wrong Direction

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Written by: Consuelo Werner

Disclosure: This post is not intended to persuade anyone to change their view on nutrition. This article is from a personal blog written and edited by me. This is not medical advice. The main purpose of this post is to encourage parents to do their best when researching on their own after a given suggestion by their medical professional.

The problem with Infant Formulas

We know many of the wonderful benefits breastfeeding brings along with a new born:

It helps your baby stay healthy

It gives your baby her first immune boosters

It’s easily digested

It protects against infections

Breastmilk is always ready and available, and it’s good for the environment

But what happens if you can’t breastfeed?

Most doctors still consider nursing the best first food. Sadly, if they prescribe another way to feed your baby after the typical 6 months of feeding window recommended by the  AAP, they immediately turn their sight to commercial formulas. Rarely physicians will suggest goat’s milk. Difference between raw goat’s milk and cow’s milk.

In fact, many babies start having allergic reactions soon after milk  or soy based formulas are introduced. And when allergies are present they get switched to cow’s milk, often skim or fat free. Baby starts having digestive issues and problems such as: vomiting, diarrhea or severe stomach pain and/or bloody stools . In reality, formula is very closely regulated by the FDA, and there is not much difference between the brands. Two things that  PERSONALLY don’t make me want to trust them AT ALL. THIS IS LITERALLY POISON FOR YOUR BABY.

AS A MATTER OF FACT, my oldest daughter lived through the horrible side effects of nutritional malnourishment when given soy based formulas. I was advised to stop breastfeeding because I was very low in nutrients. Instead of being given a nutritional view, and advice on the way I was eating, and switching my diet; they suggested I stop-the best superfood in the world-and replace my milk with  cow milk based formula. The lactose protein in the formula was creating the side effects mentioned above,  and she was diagnosed as lactose intolerant. “No” -doctors stated- “it’s not all the hydrogenated oils and crap in the milk”– “it’s the lactose, sole and only’s fault”… And soy formula must be a better source!? ::::shrug:::

Breast milk is the gold standard for infant nutrition. DHA and ARA started to be added to infant formulas because researchers realized that they were a component of breast milk. This is just one of many more reasons why breast milk is the ideal nutrition for your baby, and formulas are a no no.

Did you read the label on your recent formula purchase?

 

 

GROSS. Even YOU wouldn’t want to eat this.

Now,If you are breastfeeding…

and you are worried about boosting your baby’s micronutrients, I have great news. There are far better ways to do this safely. First of all, check your own nutrition first. What you eat will affect the outcome of your breast milk. Breast milk is almost always sufficient  for baby, but other things such as homemade bone broths  made from quality sources of meat, and probiotics from the juice of fermented vegetables can be given as early as 4 months to support with digestion and better absorption of nutrients.

If you are not breastfeeding…

There are many other natural ways of making homemade baby formulas at home. Here’s a great article from the Weston A. Price Foundation about the different ways to nourish your baby. They also have liver based formulas for those babies intolerant to casein and lactose.

The problem with  Infant cereals

 

 

 

Is infant cereal (also known as baby rice ) the best first food for baby?

Why is baby rice so commonly introduced as baby’s first food?

Well, there are several  reasons – the main one being that it is the first food most frequently recommended to parents by pediatricians and medical professionals after the age of 6 months to 1 year of age.

There is also an element of tradition – after all, it was the first food that many of US received as babies, and offering baby rice has become established and widely accepted as the ‘norm’ when transitioning infants to solids.

Now, Many doctors would argue that rice cereals are the best first food …

because It’s relatively bland in taste. I agree that liver is much stronger than chicken, or that some kids will favor certain tastes. That being said, if you don’t want to deal with a baby who doesn’t like vegetables or meat, you absolutely have to introduce  these foods at the earliest possible. WHY? Baby has never tasted anything besides your milk, real food is not hard to introduce if you skip the whole “high sugar load” in commercial cereals. Baby’s brain will react the same way to sugars as an adult would. So if you start by giving her sugar and chemicals which are intended to be satisfactory to the brain, she will reject the taste of real food. That’s the whole thing about processed foods. And we are to blame for starting it with our own kids, (and Gerber doesn’t count as real food either)

“The whole purpose of introducing your baby to real food is to get baby accustomed to different flavors, not to mention that babies build a strong foundation of great eating habits”

Baby might reject some foods, and this is normal, but with time, the palate evolves to what’s natural. Giving a variety of foods during an early stage is, in many cultures such as the Japanese culture, essential. If you get your kid used to the natural taste of food, she won’t fuss over food as she gets older.

because it’s easy to cook and it’s easier to blend.  Your baby’s health is important. I know many of us have to work, but boiling a piece of meat and vegetable, and blending them for your baby takes about 20 minutes. It’s a better choice, and as convenient as boiling rice. You save a couple of cents and time. You are ensuring the best nutrients for your baby. You don’t have to deal with a bunch of health problems in your little baby’s future life, or have as many visits to the pediatrician because of allergies. You won’t have to buy and use as many medications. There won’t be as much money spent on harsh chemicals for your baby’s endless skin rashes. There will also be less constipation problems. Think about it. It’s cheaper and healthier.

because it’s said to provide necessary iron. Did you know that  beef liver is by far the best source of iron? Liver is very easily digested, and it DOES NOT CONSTIPATE BABY.

because it makes baby fuller, faster. Well… protein also does the job. And it’s all ages appropriate.

 because it’s fortified with iron. But once you read this article, you will change your mind

For quite some time, these reasons for introducing baby rice before other foods have not been greatly challenged – indeed, infant cereal is still one of the most popular weaning foods in the developed world. 

More recently, however, parents are ‘reading up’ on infant nutrition, and questioning commonly held beliefs regarding feeding practices. With more information available – and parents being able to ‘compare notes’ via the internet – they are more likely to challenge pediatric advice regarding solid feeding issues than ever before.

Furthermore, the previously held notion that anything in a packet marketed for babies is automatically a healthy choice is beginning to fade away… and many parents have doubts over the necessity of those little packs of commercially prepared baby rice.

There is no doubt that baby’s best first foods need to come from natural sources that are packed with mineral rich contents. Egg yolksbone broths, sweet potatoes, and avocados are some of the rich nutrient dense foods you can choose over rice.

If you are already into the primal/paleo world, you probably know about the high content of antinutrients in rice, and that meat has a higher nutritional value compared to grains.

 

Sometimes it’s hard to recognize the beliefs that are part of one’s own culture. They are easier to observe when contrasted with the beliefs and practices of other cultures.

Cultural expectations affect how children eat around the world. In many cultures, parents hope that their children will learn to eat a wide variety of foods, while in others, food choices may be limited by geography or strife.

There are always healthier variations of infant feeding, and  there is never just one way to make the transition to solids. Make a transition that works for you and your baby. Stay away from mass produced or chemically altered products, and give your baby the best real food out there.

 

 

 

 

 

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  1. eema.gray
    December 21, 2012 at 7:24 am

    You can trace my personal food journey through the first choices my children made in table food. My oldest snatched homemade bread from my hand. My oldest daughter stole a nectarine from a shopping bag. My currently nine month old daughter grabbed a fistful of chicken liver pate off my plate and shoved it in her mouth.

  2. Barefoot Cassie
    December 21, 2012 at 8:52 am

    You forgot an important benefit of breastfeeding….attractive packaging!

  3. Chiropractor in Ottawa
    December 21, 2012 at 9:25 am

    I love how they use the word “formula’….as though they concocted something scientific. Every once in a while there is a news story about how toxic breast milk is….Interesting how closely connected food corps and pharma is connected. Obscene.

  4. Lindsay
    December 21, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Great article! My favorite one-stop-shop resource for infant feeding is the Weston A. Price’s “nourishing a growing baby” page. We used their guidelines for my daughter (now 14 months) as she has been transitioning to solids over the last 8 months. The recommendations and guidelines they give are closely in line with other folks that I read like Chris Kresser and Nina Planck and I suspect that Chris and Nina also rely heavily on their work too :-) To my surprise, my daughter’s favorite foods right now are liver pate and cod liver oil!! incredible…

    http://www.westonaprice.org/childrens-health/nourishing-a-growing-baby?qh=YTo3OntpOjA7czo2OiJpbmZhbnQiO2k6MTtzOjc6ImluZmFudHMiO2k6MjtzOjg6ImluZmFudGVzIjtpOjM7czo3OiJpbmZhbnRlIjtpOjQ7czo0OiJmb29kIjtpOjU7czo1OiJmb29kcyI7aTo2O3M6MTE6ImluZmFudCBmb29kIjt9

    • eema.gray
      December 22, 2012 at 11:45 am

      My nine month old adores pate also. We make it with coconut oil instead of butter and it is so, so good. My big kids like it too but the baby, she adores it. :-)

  5. Anna
    December 21, 2012 at 11:40 am

    If there’s one upside to getting diabetes during and after pregnancy, it’s the food awareness I have gained since then through my own research. Thanks to this, I never went with the rice cereal and all the other packaged crap. Avocadoes were her first solid food, quickly followed by eggs, bananas, wild salmon, all kinds of meat, liver and cooked veg. So glad I did this! Why give babies rice cereal fortified with iron when you can cut to the chase and give them some beef, fish or liver?

  6. Evala
    December 21, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    My baby’s first food were ribs, mashed avocado, mashed banana, pureed mango, saag paneer, halibut, and chicken tikka masala. He was really excited to be eating–started at 4.5 months but had been trying to grab stuff off our plates before that. Now he has a very adventurous palate and loves to try completely new foods. I know he’s just one kid and correlation does not equal causation, but when I see 6 and 8 year olds who refuse to eat anything but noodles, cereal, french fries, sweets, and chicken Mcnuggets, I really think their tastes were formed by being introduced to very bland foods as babies. I think that that would just set you up to expect all foods to be sweet and bland and maybe feel some revulsion at things that aren’t, like that might make you suspect that they aren’t really food because they don’t fit into your template of what food is. The same with toddlers in the 80s and 90s who drank “healthy” juice from a sippy cup all day long and now as adults drink soda all day long and have a hard time accepting water.

  7. lisa c.
    December 21, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    Wow, you’ve got balls to imply to mothers who formula feed their babies that they are giving their babies poison. As a mother yourself, I am surprised you passed this judgment along.

    • Chris D
      December 23, 2012 at 6:27 am

      I have to echo Lisa’s sentiment a bit here. It is extremely insensitive and presumptuous to make a blanket statement like: if you are giving your baby formula, you are poisoning your baby. This smacks of dogmatism and the kind of extremism in the Paleo community that keeps us from reaching a larger audience.

      My wife breast feeds our 11 month old as much as she is humanly capable, early in the morning and when she comes home at night from work. During the afternoon, our daughter eats the foods I prepare for her and drinks a bottle of formula. If I am putting our daughter to bed, I give her formula. My wife used to haul an electric breast pump with her to and from work every day and used what little spare time she had to express milk and refrigerate it. If she had no time, she would stay up at night to pump, just so our daughter could have breastmilk at daycare. Eventually, all of this took a toll on her: scrabbling to find time to pump and losing sleep over staying up late to pump. So, we made the decision to supplement with formula. Now, you are going to tell someone like my wife, who struggles with performing her job, taking care if our daughter and, minimally, herself that she is poisoning our daughter? I don’t think so.

      There are thousands of women just like my wife who struggle every day to do the best for their children, and there are always people who are more than willing to stand on their soapbox and judge them. Women struggle with feelings of guilt and inadequacy every day in regards to how well they feel they are taking care of their child, anyone who claims not to struggle with these feelings is living in denial or is a self-righteous prig. When you tell someone who, for whatever reason does not or cannot breast feed their child exclusively that they are poisoning their child, you add to that struggle.

      As to all those who suggest we find natural alternatives to commercial formula: I encourage you to take a look at yourself. Do you and your spouse have full-time jobs that take you out of the house the entire day, the entire week? Do you live in an urban environment with limited access to all-natural, pasture fed meat and dairy? If you said yes, and you have found a way to exclusively breast feed your child or make an alternative from scratch, please email me and let me know how to do it. Otherwise, think before you speak.

      • Chelo
        December 27, 2012 at 12:19 pm

        Chris,

        I’m sorry your family is struggling. I can only imagine how hard it is for you and your wife.

        My family was raised on raw goat’s milk succesfully along with breastfeeding since day 1, because there was no such thing as formula in France so great grandma did raw goat’s milk along with beef based formulas when she had to work.

        In Mexico (where I was born) there are many rural areas were indians fed their kids a corn mash based formula, because they can’t get healthy animals, and raising animals is expensive. Grains are obviously not ideal or optimal for health but neither is corn syrup or hydrogenated oils in formula, and kids somehow thrive on them. I was also brought on mostly corn based formulas. Both my parents worked full time jobs, we couldn’t get fresh milk up until i was older and we moved to a rural area where my parents were able to have a farm.

        When I migrated to the US almost 11 years ago,I’ve had the pleasure of living with an Amish family back in 2000 in Wisconsin and the mom raised her kids on raw goat’s milk because she could only breastfeed a little bit. Working hours were demanding and overwhelming.

        I also know a person who lived in an urban area in the US where she couldn’t get fresh milk, pastured raised animals , basically all she could get was junk food and she did raise her kid on formula. .Numeral times she did mentioned she wished she had better alternatives in town. But she didn’t know better and couldn’t afford to move so I don’t blame her. I blame the society she had to live in and how sad it is to be in a place where all you can get is commercial foods.

        At the end, I can think of many examples, whether is lack of money, geography or cultural reasons, WE, the ones who are lucky to have access to fresh sources, should be the ones applying this knowledge.

        We currently live in a non food world, and fresh organic pastured raw sources are less and less available in many countries, including my home country, I agree.

        Babies are totally capable of eating solids as early as 4 months and there are a vast number of foods you can switch to.

        But if you knew there were safer alternatives to feed your child and that you had the resources, then why don’t trust nature first?

        Whether you decide on raising your child on formula or not is your choice. Formula has only being around for so little in comparsion to natural foods. I’m not judging here, because I raised my first child on formula . at a much later day I realized that nutrition was also a big part for a women to be able to breastfeed, and If I could have changed the way I ate, I could have increased my chances of breastfeeding.

        Accepting responsability of any wrong- doing is success. I accepted the wrong-doing and it gave me the opportunity to learn how to deal with a similar situation. I think, wrong-doing always affects our life especially when we don’t face it.

        I was able to educate myself deeper on the subject, and made a little effort and tried my best to get healthier alternatives such as raw goat’s milk or even raw cow’s milk and started preparing bone broths or liver broths and increased solids portion with my babies. This is what I found to be my alternatives.

        And if I had to live in a place where all I could get was mac and cheese and sodas, or beans and rice, well, I would have worked it out. I would have had no other choice than giving my baby what was available. But because I do have a choice now and have the money to do it, I choose optimal. I choose to nourish myself better. And choose to give my children the best.

        Best luck and wishes to you and family!

  8. Martin
    December 22, 2012 at 3:41 am

    Health Canada is recommending meat and eggs as first solid food, that’s what I calla step in the right direction
    http://www.globalnews.ca/Pages/Story.aspx?id=6442722265

  9. Annick
    December 22, 2012 at 5:24 am

    In Canada, Health Canada, Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada and Breastfeeding Committee for Canada don’t suggest cereals as first food for baby but proteins.(http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/infant-nourisson/recom/index-eng.php).

  10. mister worms
    December 29, 2012 at 7:00 am

    I think the “GROSS” description of the formula label is sort of misplaced and I see why some people would be offended. All of those ingredients are an attempt to replicate human milk. You have to wonder why the list isn’t longer… as you mentioned, additions like DHA are somewhat recent, yet we know it’s very important. Pre-formula, I hear tales of using sweetened condensed milk. Yikes!

    And I wonder the same thing about the WP recipes which seem to be the only other real food alternative out there that attempts to cover the bases with all of the different fats, micronutrients, etc. I can also understand the hesitation to use raw animal milk even if a reliable source is available. I nursed my kid for 3.5 years and never had to use any supplements but I really feel for families who have to make some sort of decision on human milk supplements/replacements. Personally, we would have been a mess as my kid was sensitive to cow’s milk protein even via breast milk (I went dairy-free after figuring it out).

    I think it wouldn’t be as difficult if donor milk was more easily available (the next best thing) and if there was some more substantial documentation on the recipes. I don’t even know what I would do myself. A little bit of everything to cover the bases?

    Also, I’ve noticed that some women have the idea that breast feeding vs. supplements is a black and white choice. I think that healthcare professionals can be offering better counseling and information on breast feeding to the extent possible and how to keep supply up while supplementing, especially during sensitive periods (right after birth, those frequent growth spurts at the beginning). There seems to be a lot of misinformation on this topic coming from physicians who are solely focused on a baby’s weight gain, derailing the breast feeding relationship from the get-go.

    • Rhiannon
      January 4, 2013 at 7:16 am

      Yes, most of the ingredients on that list are just vitamins and other nutrients. The 42.6% corn syrup solids is gross though.

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