Joyous Blog

Baby Food Introduction

Apr 5, 2016 BY Joy McCarthy

Due to popular request through the blog and social media, I am posting about introducing solid foods to your baby. I’m also going to share some great advice for new mamas on baby food introduction from Dr. Jonah and Dr. La of the Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine.

I’ve been having so much fun introducing foods to Vienna! I started at about five-and-a-half months because she got her two bottom teeth in and she had been grabbing at my plate. For about a month prior to her first food, she was watching me like a hawk every time I ate and imitating me chewing, as well as grabbing my plate at every opportunity. I figured it was high time to let her chow down on something aside from mama milk once she was sitting upright and could hold her head up really well.

You’re probably wondering “how will I know when my sweet babe is ready for solids?”

As I mentioned above, it was pretty obvious for me with Vienna, but Dr. Jonah says you’ll know your baby is ready when:
• they can sit upright with support
• they can hold their head in a steady, upright position
• they show interest in foods they see you eating. (This may happen before they are ready to have solid foods – this sign alone is not enough to begin solid food introduction!)

Most babies are ready by about six months of age.
Here are some first foods I’ve introduced to Vienna (please do not feel limited by this list, this is just what I’ve chosen to do so far):

And she's trying hard boiled eggs for the first time this week!

If you’re not sure about a particular food, check with your primary care practitioner for advice (e.g., your pediatrician, naturopath or certified nutritionist).

You may have heard that the latest research advises introducing potentially allergenic foods earlier, rather than waiting until your child is older. Are you scrunching up your eyebrows, wondering how can this be when the original advice was to delay introduction of foods to prevent allergies? Well, things have changed!

New evidence is challenging what we once thought, including research showing early introduction of potentially allergenic foods actually decreases likelihood of developing allergies later on.
Based on the research available, Dr. Jonah advises introducing these foods early on:

• Peanuts (as soon as is safe, using a natural peanut butter)
• Potatoes (as soon as is safe)
• Carrots (as soon as is safe)
• Cabbage (as soon as is safe)
• Meat (as soon as is safe)
• Oats (as soon as is safe)
• Wheat (as soon as is safe)
• Rye (before seven months)
• Fish (before eight months)
• Eggs (before ten months)

If you have a severe allergy to any food, I would recommend you first discuss with your paediatrician or naturopath before introducing that food to your baby regardless of the above recommendations. Also, observe your baby for signs of allergy immediately following introduction of a new food.
Should you choose organic?
Yes, absolutely. Non-organic foods contain pesticides that can disrupt hormones, negatively impact the immune system, and more. Babies weigh much less than adults and are not equipped to handle pesticides. It is really important that you chose organic as often as possible to avoid exposure to unnecessary and potentially harmful chemicals. You can find out which foods have the highest and the lowest level of pesticides here

Skin on?

If the skin is edible – such as is the case with apples, pears and sweet potato – then yes, you can just puree the food with the skin on after it’s cooked. However, if your babe has a sensitive tummy, you might want to peel the skin off first. Vienna was fine, but if your baby is gassy, constipated or generally fussy after you feed them foods with the skin on, you may want to try them without skin and see if there is a difference. Keep in mind, this could also be a reaction to a whole food not agreeing with your babe.

How much should you feed your baby?

Let your little on take the lead. Remember their stomach is still teeny tiny so don't be surprised if they are satisfied after a tablespoon when you first start. Plus, when you are beginning intro of foods it's totally normal for your baby to not be interested right away. Never force your baby to eat. Let them lead the way. Offer the food and stop when baby is showing signs they are finished such as turning away.

Vienna started out eating only a few spoonfuls and now at 7 months she's eating 2 solid meals per day and less than a 1/4 cup of food total at a meal -- mind you, she's eating maybe half of that when you consider how much is on her face, bib, and high chair haha!

Here are some of Vienna’s favourite foods so far and their health benefits:

Avocado

This was the very first food I ever gave Vienna when she was 5.5 months because it is nutrient-rich and super easy to prepare. It is a great source of both soluble and insoluble fiber and fat (rich in calories). It is also rich in B vitamins, vitamin A and minerals such as magnesium and potassium. It is a wonderful first food to support growth and development.

When introducing solids, many babies get constipated so avocado is a great choice because the fiber helps prevent constipation. Vienna wasn't thrilled about avocado but a few days later I added banana and she enjoyed the combo of banana and avocado together. She was teething in the photo below, hence the very red cheeks!

All you need to do is mash it with a fork. Avocados freeze really well too.

Sweet Potato



Sweet potato is another incredibly nourishing food. It is a naturally sweet vegetable making it an ideal first food because babies are used to the sweetness of breast milk or formula. Full of nourishing vitamins and rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium and more. Just like avocado, it is also very high in fiber. I chop it and then roast it for 35-40 minutes or steam it for 20 minutes, then puree it. I leave the skin on for more fiber and phytonutrients (plant chemicals).

Green Peas

I love green peas so it's not surprising that Vienna also loves them :) The vibrant green is the colour of health! Green peas are rich in antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin C and vitamin E, and a good amount of the antioxidant mineral zinc which is important for a healthy immune system. Recent research has shown that green peas are a reliable source of omega-3 fat in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This makes it an ideal food for brain development.

Peas are also a surprising source of protein. Their naturally sweet taste makes them an easy food to introduce to baby. I buy frozen organic peas and lightly cook them in some filtered water for about 2-3 minutes just to soften them up enough to puree them. I puree them with the same water.

Applesauce

I highly recommend you make your own applesauce for your baby. Your kitchen will smell amazing! Just like sweet potato, I recommend you leave the peel on to get the most nutrition bang for your buck into your baby. Apples are a source of many different nutrients including vitamins A, C, folate and choline and minerals such as potassium, calcium and phosphorus. They are a source of soluble and insoluble fiber which is wonderful for your baby's gut health. Be sure to try my organic applesauce recipe.

Ingredients
  • 10-12 organic apples, cored and sliced into chunks (any kind -- royal gala, pink lady, honey crisp, fuji)
  • 1 tsp organic ground cinnamon
  • Filtered water (see below)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  2. Place apple slices in a large baking dish. I used my Le Creuset pot.
  3. Sprinkle apples with cinnamon. Add enough water to the pot to come up about a quarter of an inch on the sides. This is to help bake the apples by creating steam.
  4. Bake covered for 35 to 40 minutes or until apples are soft.
  5. Once finished baking let cool slightly then transfer to a blender or a food processor and blend until smooth*.
  6. Refrigerate for 1 week or freeze for a few months.

Notes

*I blended until the applesauce was super smooth because I'm using it as a baby food for my 6 month old. If you are making it for yourself or an older child then you could blend less to have some nice chunks.

If there is a food (like broccoli -- Vienna hates broccoli!) your baby doesn't like, combine it with some applesauce, it may just win him or her over!

Additional Joyous Tips on Food Introduction

• Don’t rush when you’re feeding your little one. Schedule enough time to make it an enjoyable and mindful experience for you both. Mess is totally fine!
• Allow your babe to get their hands in and on the food so they can immerse all their senses in the act of eating.
• Let your babe take the lead and grab the spoon if it is safe and they want to feed themselves with your supervision.
• If at first your child rejects a food, try it again in a couple of days. Vienna does not like broccoli (yet). But so far, she’s made a funny face when eating most foods for the first time, and then the next time she loves them! Remember, every baby is different!
• Rice and grain cereal can wait. These are foods that are often recommended as a baby’s first food but I do not recommend this. These foods are taking the place of something far more nutrient-dense like sweet potatoes. Make every morsel count! ?
• If you notice that after introducing a new food your baby has digestive problems like gas or constipation, wait a few days before introducing it again.
• Introduce foods one at a time and wait a few days before introducing a new food.
• Make sure your babe is actually hungry before feeding them solids. I often give Vienna solids right after a nap. Right now she is eating two solid meals per day and all her other meals are breast milk.

Breastfeeding?

If you are breastfeeding, solids should be complementary to your milk. Aim to breastfeed as long as possible. Dr. Jonah recommends a goal of at least two years because the immune system benefits of breastfeeding are greatest in the second year. Doesn’t this make you wonder about the current breastfeeding guideline of six months?!

Thank you so much to Jonah Lusis, Naturopathic Doctor, and Du La, Naturopathic Doctor, Acupuncturist, Birth Doula for the information you shared in this post.

I hope you found this post useful mamas :) Have fun and be sure to post any questions you have for me below!

Apr 5, 2016 BY Joy McCarthy
53 Comments
Maria   •   April 6, 2016

Hi Joy! Thanks you so much for sharing this great article with us!!! I would love to have your advice... At what age would your first introduce nuts to Vienna (almonds, cashews..)? And seeds (flaxseeds, chia seeds...)? I was hesitanting about green peas but know that you said is find as first foods I will introduce in the weeks to come! THANKS! Take care and sending you and baby much love! Maria Mena :)

Reply
Joy McCarthy   •   April 6, 2016

My pleasure. So the current recommendations are that delaying introduction of foods can actually increase the potential for an allergy. Therefore, it is now recommended to introduce these allergenic foods earlier. That said, you can't really give a baby an almond (obviously)... so there are other ways. I haven't personally done nut and seed milks yet but there are a lot of nuts in our house so Vienna has definitely been exposed. I will be giving Vienna chia pudding very soon made with coconut milk. She just had egg yolks for the first time today and loved them... which is considered an allergenic food but I'm hoping to avoid allergies by doing earlier introduction. Hope that helps -- the key thing to remember is that early intro of allergenic foods reduces allergies. As you introduce these foods, do so slowly and watch how your baby responds. Take note of any allergic responses such as hives etc. I would suggest booking a session with Dr. Jonah or Dr. La if you want more custom advice.


Elaine Roberts-Kercheff   •   April 6, 2016

Hi Joy! Do you breastfeed your little one at the same time you give her solids? My little one doesn't seem to want to drink milk after eating solids (doesn't matter if it's bottle or nursing).

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Joy McCarthy   •   April 6, 2016

Every baby is different but here's a basic schedule of what I'm doing.. breastmilk upon waking, solids just before first morning nap. Wake up from nap and have breastmilk. Solids again before 2nd afternoon nap. Wake up, solids, then breastmilk before bedtime. Sometimes if she's really hungry there will be another 1 or 2 breastmilk feeds in there. Your babe is probably just full so maybe do the breastmilk first and then wait a bit. I always space out breastmilk and solids about an hour apart or more.


virginia   •   April 6, 2016

Hey, as far as peanuts go, as soon as safe means what ? This is so interesting and I am so thankful for your blog in so many ways ! Thanks Joy !!

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Joy McCarthy   •   April 6, 2016

I personally would not introduce peanuts before 6 months, so anytime 6 months or later but before one year. You could mix 1/2 tsp natural peanut butter in with a puree or just give your baby a little on your finger. As with any allergenic food, I would not give your baby this right before bed but rather during the day when you can observe them for any allergic response.


Crystal   •   April 6, 2016

Hi Joy! What type of containers do you use to store food after preparing it and what types of bowls do you use when feeding your precious little one? Thanks!

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Joy McCarthy   •   April 6, 2016

I have a whole bunch of different options right now... I have a silicon mat that has cute spots for bowls but I will use it when she's a little older and doing more than just purees. I have glass and BPA-free/pthalate-free bowls I use as well. I like the bowls with suction cups on the bottom. Not sure if you live in Toronto but Macklem's on Dundas has a lot of great options!


Whitney   •   April 6, 2016

Hello, your post was perfect in it's timing.. My daughter is 5 months old so I've been doing lots of research on baby food and introducing solids. I am wondering if you have any information on baby led weaning. My only experience is with purees bit in feeling lots of pressure to do baby led weaning. Help! Thank you.

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Joy McCarthy   •   April 6, 2016

I've tried BLW but haven't given it a solid effort on a daily basis. I will admit I'm kinda nervous about it, although many mamas love it and the reasons why make absolute sense to me. I think it just comes down to what you are comfortable with as a mom and also your baby. I think what I will do is slowly make the purees chunkier so she learns how to chew.


Stephanie   •   April 6, 2016

As part of the caution on introducing nuts if one has a severe allergy as noted above, I think it's important to discuss with one's practitioner and delay consumption if any food allergy- not just severe. This would extend to both parents (not just mama) and other children even where neither parent has an allergy.

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Erin   •   April 6, 2016

Im also interested in your thoughts on baby led weaning. I read it can help them be a less picky eater which I like!

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Joy McCarthy   •   April 6, 2016

Hi Erin, I just answered this same question above... just scroll up! :)


Anzhela   •   April 6, 2016

Hi Joy, Thanks for this post, I was waiting for it. I just have a question what do you think about introducing yogurt to the baby? Thanks a lot for your blog!

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Shelly   •   April 6, 2016

Hi Joy I'm so relieved to see that you've introduced eggs. Question my son loves smoothies does your little one have raw apple in smoothies or just steamed? Also what is your advice on bread and which type you prefer. Thsnks

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Joy McCarthy   •   April 8, 2016

Hi Shelly, Vienna loves eggs! As for apple, I've been roasting it to make applesauce. Not sure if you saw my recipe, but here it is:http://www.joyoushealth.com/blog/2016/03/04/homemade-organic-applesauce/ Vienna hasn't had a smoothie yet because I just started food introduction about 1.5 months ago, she's just 7 months. However, some fruits and veggies are more easier digested when slightly cooked. That doesn't mean you can't give them raw. If you blend it really well in a smoothie the process of blending breaks it down so it should be fine. Hope that helps! Re. bread, do you mean for me? Vienna doesn't eat bread. We buy the Silver Hills brand.


Theresa   •   April 7, 2016

Hi Joy! I am wondering how you are going to give baby rye? I know our babes are the same age, so 7 months is approaching soon and I'm wondering how to incorporate that? Thanks so much, love following you on Instagram for baby food ideas!

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Anita   •   April 7, 2016

Thank you very much! May we introduce avocado applesauce sweet patato since 4-5 months. Very useful information for us and our babies. Thank you Anita

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Sonja   •   April 8, 2016

Hi Joy, great timing for me as well :) I have just started with Avocado and my doll seams to love it. I have a couple of questions. Do you freeze baby food? And do you add any fat to the purees? Or apples? So they can take in iron better? Thanks xoxo

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Joy McCarthy   •   April 8, 2016

Sweet! Avo is such a nourishing superfood for babies! I do freeze Vienna's food in small batches. You can some olive oil or coconut oil if you like. I cook the sweet potatoes for example with some olive oil.


Kindra   •   April 9, 2016

Hi Joy, I've been exclusively breastfeeding but will wean my little one when he is a year old. I'm not interested in transitioning him to cows milk as we don't drink it. Do you have any suggestions on what "milk" to transition him to? Thanks!

Reply
Joy McCarthy   •   April 10, 2016

It really depends on your baby! Many babies don't need to transition to "milk" necessarily. Goat milk is closer in amino acid profile to mama milk than cow's so that is a much better option. Have you started introducing solids yet? If your baby likes a lot of different foods then as long as he is getting enough fat, calcium etc from non-dairy foods it is not necessary to have him drink milk.


Elisa   •   April 10, 2016

Do you plan on breastfeeding the full 2 yearS?

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Joy McCarthy   •   April 10, 2016

I don't have a specific plan per se. I'm letting Vienna lead the way on this one. Right now I'm still nursing about 5 times per day. However, if she's nursing early morning and just before bed when she's 2, that's fine with me!


Janet   •   April 10, 2016

Hi Joy, thanks for taking the time to write about this. My little one is 5.5 months so the timing is great. My doctor was pushing rice cereal for the iron component saying that breast milk will not contain enough for my LO after 6 months. I'm hoping to stear clear of rice cereal but wondering if you've any suggestions on what I could use instead? Thanks!

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Joy McCarthy   •   April 11, 2016

Beets, squash, sweet potato are all good first intro foods and a source of iron. I also don't agree with the reco of rice cereal -- it's not a great source of nutrition overall so you're on the right track!


Valerie Belair   •   April 12, 2016

Hi Joy, My baby turned 1 on March 26th. I have been breastfeeding full time since the beginning and have never introduced dairy products. I am not comfortable starting to put her on cow milk but my family doctor says it's highly recommended for the fat and calcium.... which I don't really believe is accurate. She just started day care two days ago and I plan on breastfeeding in the morning, after day care and at night. She eats a variety of all organic food from avocados (almost daily), bananas, sweet potatoes, other vegetables, quinoa, brown rice, organic oats, a bit of meat etc. What is your advice on that to make sure she gets enough nutrients. I follow your recipes daily, did your detox for 1 month before my wedding and got my intolerance testing results back a month ago and avoid them 100%: gluten, dairy, casein, eggs, etc so my diet is pretty bang on. A big thank you. Valerie

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DE   •   April 12, 2016

This post was perfectly timed for me. My babe is just about 5 months so we will be introducing solids soon. Thanks for the great info! I was just wondering if you have any book recommendations on this topic? Thanks!

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Loretta   •   April 18, 2016

i'm not even a mother and i find all this information would be very helpful for new moms.

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Heather Allen   •   April 18, 2016

Agreed! There's so much information it out there, it can get overwhelming! Thanks for your kind words :) Heather- Joyous Health team


Diane   •   April 18, 2016

Hi Joy! Wonderful post, I will definitely read this again when my LO is ready to start solids in a few months. Right now I'm BF with baby at 2 months, I'm wondering if there are any foods you recommend staying away from to minimize gas, did you pretty much eat anything? I would like to start eating broccoli and cabbage again since it's packed with nutrients but worry about giving gas to baby.. but want him to be familiar with the taste if I'm going to introduce them in the pureed forms. What do you recommend?

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Elaine Roberts-Kercheff   •   April 28, 2016

Hi Joy! I have a question on Vitamin D. I've heard you mention before you also give Vitamin D to Baby Vienna. I was wondering if you know of a good brand to use for adults as well as for babies, since I would also like to take some Vit D and give some to my little one. Thank you! E

Reply
Heather Allen   •   April 28, 2016

Hi Elaine! CanPrev makes a good vitamin D drop. The average kids dosage is 400IU where as an adult dosage is 1000IU, so by purchasing a kids formula, you will have to take multiple drops to reach your appropriate dose. Metagenics or Genestra are also good brands to look for. I hope that helps! Heather- Joyous Health Team


Brittney   •   May 1, 2016

Hi Joy! I love your high chair that you have! Which brand is it??

Reply
Heather Allen   •   May 3, 2016

Hi Brittney! The high chair is the Phil & Ted's brand :) Heather- Joyous Health Team


Sherry   •   May 10, 2016

Do you happen to recall where you purchased the small glass containers in your photos. They look like the perfect size to make up a batch and store in the fridge or freezer. Thanks in advance!

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Heather Allen   •   May 11, 2016

Hi Sherry! The are reusable yogurt & butter jars from a company called Petit Pots. They are super handy :) Heather- Joyous Health team


Jennifer   •   June 2, 2016

Hi Joy, My LO just turned 6 months old. I'm starting with bone broth then introducing egg yolks and avocado (this process is so exciting). I wanted to know what you thought about raw beef liver. I read you can freeze (for at least 2 weeks) then grate it and add to the broth or over cooked egg yolks, but I'm a little scared of the "raw factor". Also, I've been taking AOR Advanced B as you recommended in one of your webinars. I've been taking daily for the last 6 months but just noticed that the bottle says not to continue for more than 8 weeks without doc recommendation! Do you take this supplement daily? ps. my nails and hair are fabulous! Thanks, Jen

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Heather Allen   •   June 3, 2016

Hi Jennifer! Thanks for reaching out. If you're nervous about the raw factor, try cooking it lightly beforehand and make sure that you are purchasing it from a clean source. Here's some guidelines on how to buy high quality meats:http://www.joyoushealth.com/blog/2015/11/08/ethical-guide-buying-meat/. In regards to the B-vitamins, most vitamins/supplements have that recommendation listed on the label. Feel free to take a break if you're not comfortable continuing with it and see how you feel. So glad to hear you nails and skin are looking fab! All the best and congrats on the LO :) Heather- Joyous Health Team


Ludivine   •   June 23, 2016

Hi Joy! Thanks for all the amazing information! I was wondering what your recommendations/guidelines would be for seeking out a naturopathic doctor? I have been wanting to go visit one more specifically for my son (19 months old) to get a little more guidance regarding holistic nutrition. Also, would you recommend toddlers taking a multivitamin since they don't always eat everything we wish they would? Love reading all the blog posts and following the little family on social media, it's a real inspiration. You make natural living is really attainable!

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Heather Allen   •   June 23, 2016

Hey Ludivine! I'd search for an ND that specializes in Pediatrics. Many Naturopaths offer meet & greet sessions so you can ask questions and see if they would be a good fit for you. If you're worried about your little ones getting adequate nutrition, we're a big fan of Genuine Health's Greens+ Kids! It's a delicious drink powder that offers up a variety of nutrients from whole foods! I hope that helps :) Heather- Joyous Health Team


Maryse   •   September 27, 2016

Hi Joy, In essence you do recommend baby led weaning, correct? What are your thoughts on that approach? Thanks!

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Chantal   •   October 18, 2016

Thanks SO much for post, Joy! I've been itching to start my 5 month old on solids for all the same reasons you did with Vienna. Of course, everyone brings up the cereal but I knew there was a much better way to do it! This post was so informative-Thank you!

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Anna   •   March 8, 2017

Hi Joy I was wondering what you mean by the comments "as soon as it's safe" next to the food. Particularly next to carrots. My daughter is almost 7 months and I wang to introduce carrots and wondering under what circumstance would it be unsafe. Also what type of fish would you recommend as a first food ?

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Rachel Molenda   •   March 9, 2017

Hey Anna, By "as soon as it's safe", Joy is suggesting that as soon as it's safe for your babe or toddler depending on where they are at (i.e. are they able to chew? is there a concern of them choking?) When you introduce carrots, Joy would just suggest that it's steamed or cooked so it's easy to chew. Salmon or a mild fish might be good to start with! :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team


Meg   •   April 30, 2017

How did you make sure Vienna was getting enough iron? I breastfeed and started with a chicken bone broth and then avocado but I'm worried about his iron intake.

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Joy McCarthy   •   May 1, 2017

If you're still breastfeeding the iron that is in your milk is literally the most readily available, absorbable iron your baby will ever get :) If you're formula feeding then there is iron in the formula. Why are you worried? Is your little one not thriving? If that's the case I would bring him/her to your paediatrician for a check in :) Otherwise, if you're giving a variety of foods plus breastmilk or formula then everything should be good!

Meg   •   May 2, 2017

I thought I read that breastmilk didn't have enough iron but the more I read that seems to be wrong. He is doing just fine with height and weight I am just starting the solids and wanted to make sure he got enough iron. Thanks for the quick reply and for this post. I really didn't want to start with cereals and this helped me choose what to start with.


Catia   •   May 16, 2017

Hello, Great information thank you! I was wondering if you could provide any advice on what to give a baby after 1 year of breastfeeding? I've read up on homemade formula, but to be honest it's controversial and somewhat complicated. I'm torn and not sure what to do. I don't want to give my baby cows milk and would prefer to give goats milk since that's better on the digestion. Either way I would much rather not give my baby dairy. Heck! I don't drink milk. What are your thoughts? Thank you Catia

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Ruby   •   May 22, 2017

Hi joy, Do you recommmed trying the oatmeal cereal they have for babies ?

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Joy McCarthy   •   May 24, 2017

Yes, I really like it!


Samantha   •   October 2, 2017

When you say( as soon as safe) for some of your food suggestions, do you mean safe in terms of choking or texture ? E.g. carrots and potatoes? Or are there other reasons to wait to introduce these foods ? Thanks! Sam

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Rachel Molenda   •   October 3, 2017

Hey Samantha, Yes, definitely from that perspective (choking) and there are foods like honey that shouldn't be introduced until a certain age as children don't have the immunity for it until then which puts them at risk for botulism. Anything you aren't familiar with should just be double checked with your natural health care practitioner before making any serious changes :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team


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