Popular weaning practices include feeding babies first foods of white rice cereal flakes, introducing soft foods or pureed jars of baby fruits and vegetables, and holding off on feeding meat for the first nine months of baby’s life. Paleo parents, however, often find that style of weaning to be less than ideal. Believing that babies should eat what their parents are eating, Paleo dieters often raise their babies to eat meat, fats, and vegetables from day one of weaning, while avoiding grains, most dairy, legumes, and beans altogether.
A paleo baby generally relies on breast milk for the main source of nutrition from birth through the second year. Others may start eating whole foods at around six months of age, the age at which the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggest introducing solid foods. When baby begins grabbing at food or generally shows interest in eating solid foods, such as opening her mouth in anticipation of eating, she may be ready to start eating solids. Other sources, such as the AAP, suggest waiting until baby can sit up on her own and has solid neck control that will enable her to turn her head and refuse food when she is full.
Any whole, organic food is ideal for a paleo baby that is ready to begin eating solids, according to Rebecca Rovay-Hazelton, a fitness and nutrition expert and author of Choosing Health. Being sure to avoid honey before the age of one, you may begin feeding your child whatever you are eating, whether it is broccoli, meat or organ meats, zucchini, avocado, egg yolk, peas and carrots, yogurt, or buttered spinach. Some paleo devotees give their babies bones to chew on for teething.
While most foods are safe for baby to eat right away, a healthy preparation is important to reduce the risk of choking. Slightly mash softer foods like cooked meat or sweet potatoes. Other foods you may chop in small, easy-to-swallow sizes. Try not to cook any foods longer than necessary to retain the most nutrients possible. To minimize toxins entering your baby’s body, buy organic and free-range foods. Antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, and herbicides are used often in the mega-farming industry and those toxics can enter your baby’s body through the food he eats. Buying or growing organic and free-range limits the amount of toxins your baby’s food and your baby are exposed to, keeping him safer and healthier.
Many paleo enthusiasts follow a baby-led weaning technique, in which babies choose what, when, and how much they eat. To follow this technique, simply offer baby a variety of foods at each meal. Offer meat or other protein, vegetables, and a limited amount of fruit and allow baby to feed herself. If she doesn’t eat much, don’t worry, but simply offer her breast milk as normal. Breast milk should make up the majority of baby’s calories and nutrients until she is between one and two years old. Some babies will completely reject breast milk after introducing foods and some will not eat many solid foods and will continue breastfeeding for longer than one year. Every baby is different, so allow your child the freedom to lead her own weaning.
Allowing a baby to choose the foods he eats and how much he eats will instill in him a love of nutritious food and the intuition to choose those foods his body wants and needs. Your baby will develop a taste and appreciation for various foods without adult interaction, and he will grow up physically powerful and healthy as a result.