Friday, May 25, 2012

Feeding Kellan

So here comes the long awaited post on why I've chosen to feed Kellan the way that I have...with Michael's support of course!  There are very few decisions that we've made on subjects pertaining to Kellan that haven't been heavily researched or reviewed and his food has been no exception.  I knew the norm was to begin solids around 4 months but the more I researched the more sources I found that strongly suggested to wait until 6 months.  Waiting until 6 months significantly decreases the chance of babies having an allergic reaction to something they've eaten due to an immature digestive system.  Allergic reactions can be a rash, eczema, vomiting, diarrhea, or even trouble breathing.  Waiting also allows babies time to better develop the ability to chew, swallow, and sit up.  No matter when you start solids the most important thing is that breast milk/formula is still baby's main form of nutrition at 4 months or 6 months so they should still be nursing or drinking the same amount of formula. No solid food can match the nutrition from these liquid sources for babies at this age.

I tried to wait as long as I could to start solids with Kellan.  He was showing all of the readiness signs like showing interest in our food, sitting up with support, and wanting to nurse more often.  I still held off until a few weeks in a row he stopped sleeping through the night.  Kellan has always been a good sleeper and I knew it was time to start solids when he started waking up several times a night. 

These are the books that I've read to help me make decisions about Kellan's food.  I highly recommend all 3 and have gotten a lot from each of them.  Who knew there was so much to learn about baby food?!
Great recipes and detailed preparation, storing, freezing, and nutritional information.

This book has basic information about everything food related: health, equipment, nutrition, schedules, foods, is a baby food encyclopedia!

This has been my main resource.  It tells you step by step when to introduce certain foods and how to prepare them.  It has a strong emphasis on SUPER foods (foods with the most nutrition) and discourages CRAP foods (foods with little to no nutritional value)

My main resources has been Super Nutrition for Babies.  To give it to you in a nutshell it strongly discourages feeding baby anything processed (crackers, teething biscuits, cereal, juice, etc).  Its argument is that these foods provide little to no nutritional value so why bother feeding it to your baby?  It highly encourages foods that provide the most nutrition such as organic fruits and vegetables, liver, animal fats, and soup stocks made from pasture fed, organically raised animals.

My whole reasoning for making Kellan's food originally was so that I would know exactly what was going into his food.  When you look at the ingredients in jar baby food some just say water and the fruit or vegetable....but you have no idea how much water.  Some say absorbic acid, thickeners, and citric acid.  When I look up citric acid it says it is a naturally occurring preservative.  How natural can it be if its being added to a food to make it last longer?  I don't want any of those things in Kellan's food.  I guess the bottom line is I don't think store bought baby food is harmful but I definitely don't think it is the best.  Michael and I have been trying to grocery shop healthier and make better food choices for ourselves when we cook at home so we for sure want to do what is healthiest for Kellan.

Take for instance when I make sweet potato for Kellan, I put a sweet potato in the oven bake it for 30-45 minutes, take it out, let it cool, scrape out the inside and I add a little breast milk to make it creamier.  That's it.  No water to thin it out, nothing.  And it tastes like...a sweet potato.  Have you ever tasted jar baby food?  It doesn't really have much flavor probably because it has been watered down. Which means the nutrient content has also been watered down.  If I want to give Kellan banana, I cut it into fourths, mash up 1/4, add a little milk and there is his meal.  That HAS to be better than a jar of soupy banana mixed with water!

I have tons of homemade baby food stocked up in our freezer!

Now most people will agree that making baby food is better than store bought baby food but where I lose most people are the types of foods we've been feeding Kellan.  Actually I've even heard some people say well I ate jar baby food and cereal and I turned out ok.  While this is true, I want better for Kellan in all other aspects of his life so why settle for "good enough" when it comes to his food?   Here are the foods he's had up to 7 months and the reasoning behind adding them to his diet.  All of this information comes from Super Nutrition for Babies.

Why I skipped Cereal: Every one's argument is that cereal is needed because it is iron fortified.  Grains that make up cereal have virtually no nutritional value and are not easily digested by young babies.    Iron is a MAJOR necessity for brain development in babies but there are two types:  heme and nonheme.  Nonheme iron sources are plant sources and fortified food sources like cereal.  This type of iron is not easily absorbed by the body and only about 4% can be absorbed no matter how much of it you eat.  So why give Kellan something that has iron unnaturally added?  Why not go straight to the natural animal source?  So that's what we've done.

Soft Boiled Egg Yolk:  Eggs are usually avoided until the first year because they are considered a highly allergenic food.  The egg white is the part that causes allergic reactions so the yolk is safe to feed to babies younger than a year.  Eggs contain vitamins, minerals, amino acids and healthy cholesterol.  One thing I've learned through my research is that babies need a high fat (although HEALTHY fats) diet for sufficient brain development.  They actually NEED cholesterol as long as it comes from healthy sources.  Eggs are perfect for this.  Kellan has 1 soft boiled egg yolk mixed in his breakfast vegetable every other day.

Taken from

Liver:  THIS is the food that people really have the hardest time with me feeding Kellan.  When I first started reading Super Nutrition for Babies I thought hmmm...maybe I can just skip the liver but the more I read the more I decided it is definitely a food that must be added to his diet.  Liver blows other food sources out of the water when it comes to nutritional value.  Not only does it have loads of the heme iron ( 37-40% of it readily absorbed by the body) but it also has many other important vitamins and minerals that a developing body needs including zinc, another mineral critical to brain development.

I kept telling Michael that we needed a beef liver from a grass fed, pasture raised cow.  So we got one from Whole Foods...when I saw that HUGE chunk of well...LIVER...I felt a little nauseous.  I thought now here I have talked about this liver for a month or more and I'm not going to be able to touch the thing.  Thankfully Michael pulled out his knife and cut it into small chunks for me and we froze them.  Now whenever I need it, I pull out a little chunk, grate it or mince it (very easy while its frozen) and saute it for a couple of minutes.  Iron is so packed with vitamins and minerals babies can actually get too much of it.  So before you feel sorry for poor little Kellan being forced to eat his liver listen to how little he actually gets.  I put one TEASPOON of grated cooked liver in his breakfast vegetable every other day.  That's it.  That little teaspoon is all that he needs and he never even knows he's eaten it.  Not only that but its the natural, easy to absorb iron that his growing little brain needs!

Liver have to lay them flat to freeze otherwise they stick together. One chunk is enough for about 3 days.
 Beef and Chicken Broth: I take soup bones, marrow bones, or a whole chicken (all found at Whole Foods) and let them simmer in the crock pot filled with water for 24-72 hours to make homemade beef or chicken broth.  The broth contains so many minerals that are also the easily absorbable kind because they are from natural animal sources.  This is what I cook all of Kellan's vegetables much better than adding water!  The broth can be stored in the refrigerator for a while but I mostly freeze it into small portions and pop them out as I need.

My first experience with a whole chicken...

Lamb:  Another great source of heme iron.  I cook it in the crock pot for several hours in the beef broth until it falls off the bone.  Then I puree it and it can also be frozen into small servings.  Kellan loves it!

Bananas:  Have natural enzymes (amylase) making them easy to digest.  Best of all they require virtually no preparation.  Just mash it up!  When I have too many and they are going to go bad before I can use them, I slice them up and freeze the slices on a plate. Once frozen you can store them in a bag.  When I need them I just take 4 or 5 slices out and it takes them a few minutes to thaw to mash.

Avocado:  A healthy fat and contains the enzyme lipase. This was Kellan's first food and he ADORES it!  All you need is a ripe avocado, scoop out the inside and mash.  You can also add a little breast milk to soften.  Kellan loves it mixed with banana.

Cantaloupe, Mango, and Papaya:  Most fruits and vegetables do not contain enzymes making them more difficult for baby to digest. Tropical fruits however are loaded with enzymes allowing them to be easily digested.  Best of all they don't have to be cooked and all can be pureed and frozen.  Kellan LOVES cantaloupe and papaya.  The mango had to grow on him but he loves it now especially mixed with banana.

Frozen papaya and rutabaga portions in the Baby Bullet freezer container
Carrots, Parsnips, and Rutabaga:  The nutrients inside of vegetables are more easily absorbed when they are eaten along with a fat.  I cook these vegetables in the beef or chicken broth.  The vegetables soak up the minerals from the broth which makes them even more nutritious.  Once they are soft, I puree them and store them in the refrigerator or freeze them in small portions. 

Sweet Potatoes and Butternut Squash:  These are high in beta-carotene and in order to get the most from their minerals and antioxidants they also need to be eaten with a fat.  I bake them in the oven and then add no salt organic butter or coconut oil before serving.  Both can also be frozen.

I love my Baby Bullet!
 Why I skip juice:  Juice has absolutely no nutritional value.  That is reason enough to skip it but here are a few more:  Babies can get full from too much juice and not want nutrient rich foods.  Juice highly increases risks for tooth decay even before they have teeth! The sugar in juice reduces the effectiveness of the immune system, even 100% juice sources.  Juice is a source of lead even in organic sources.  And excessive juice can cause diarrhea and upset stomach.  So for Baby Kellan, all he gets is breast milk and a sip or two of water while he's eating and he's just as happy as can be. 

The main thing to remember is that babies do not know what they are missing unless you introduce it to them.  Right now Kellan is a healthy eater because we are teaching him good habits.  I plan to stick with it for as long as we can.  One day when he is older he will definitely try M&M's, cookies, cake, and I will introduce him to the joys of sweet tea!  But when those are things that I know that I should cut back on why in the world would I give them to a growing baby that needs all the nourishment it can get?  Again, he doesn't know any better...he is equally interested in trying to eat mommy's salad, the leg of the coffee table, lint, his baby food and drink daddy's soda...that doesn't mean I'm going to give all of those to him!  I'm the parent and right now he depends on me to make the best choices for him...not what's cute or what I think I would want to eat because no matter how much I'd love to, I shouldn't have chocolate cake for breakfast!


  1. Great post! We're going to start solids with Owen soon, so I'm in the middle of research.

  2. Thanks Alison! Starting solids is so much fun! I had no idea there was so much to learn about baby food but making it has really been a positive experience for me. When I first told Michael about what I read and how I was going to make the beef broth (we were on our way home from Whole Foods), he said Kristen I think you are getting carried away. I said we have an enormous beef liver in the back of the car...I think I'm past carried away! It sounds so much more complicated than it is. Its really been very easy.

  3. Your writing is so funny and entertaining...still the Kristen I remember from college! Haha! You're doing a good job choosing good foods for Kellan. I loved the Baby Bullet too and definitely try to feed Brody the best foods. It was hard having to give up breast feeding and switch to formula, but I definitely wanting Brody's solid foods to be the best. Evan was always a puny eater, and we had issues with his weight gain. Brody has been a great eater from day one so we have definitely enjoyed feeding time. Your research matches up to what I have read. I never did the liver or lamb, but it sounds like great options to get them the iron they need...especially important for breast fed babies. Keep up the good work!

    1. My mom told me I should write a comedy...I don't think I"m THAT funny! haha I have said so many times that if I was working too I just don't think I could have kept up with the breastfeeding. I think I could make a lot of his baby food but I don't think I could b as involved as I am now just because it is so time consuming preparing and freezing it. It can definitely be done but it would take a lot of planning ahead!