Food Philosophy for Babies, Toddlers, and Children
In my research, I was looking for the most nutrient dense foods that would make Noah as smart, strong, and healthy as possible. I came across the research of Weston A. Price, who was a dentist that traveled the world looking for healthy civilizations in the early 1900s. In the healthy cultures with little to no dental decay, he found they each had ‘sacred’ foods that were high in the fat soluble Vitamins A, D, and K2. These vitamins or ‘activators’ as Dr. Price called them were the catalysts for protein and mineral absorption. In these cultures, they all consumed some form of animal products though the diet varied. These civilizations had robust statures, good emotional health, straight teeth, and sharp minds. In generations where processed foods were introduced such as white bread, jam, white flour, condensed milk, and chocolates, dental decay increased and their facial structure started to change. These convenience foods displaced the nutrient dense foods. Dr. Price saw a narrowing of the face, nostrils, and jaw. Once modern foods were introduced, their bodies were not getting the proper nutrients for proper growth and development. This also led to increased rates of disease and infertility.
The Weston A. Price Foundation along with The Better Baby Book by Dave Asprey emphasize how much our brains are comprised of fat, especially ones that contain cholesterol, omega-3s, choline, and Vitamin A. Babies cannot produce these on their own and need them for brain and gut development. It is important to note that a person cannot produce bile if one does not consume fat, and though many plant foods contain the precursors of the Vitamins A and K, specifically K2, they cannot be converted without fat. Fat aids in the absorption of minerals, and animal foods are more mineral rich or “nutrient dense” than plant foods. Also, for brain development, babies need choline, DHA, and zinc. Though babies are small, they grow rapidly and need high quantities of nutrients for building blocks and to perform the developmental processes.
The human brain is comprised of:
- 77% water
- 12% fat
- 8% protein
- 2% minerals
- 1% carbohydrates
Food acts as the building blocks for our bodies. Through those percentages, one can see that a large part of our make-up is protein and fat. When you consider not only the fat in the brain but the sheaths surrounding the nerves, it is 60% fat. In the cultures that Dr. Price studied, saturated and monounsaturated fats comprised most of the fat in their diet, as opposed to polyunsaturated, and they consumed as much Omega-3s as Omega-6 fats. So, especially in the growing years, a large part of the diet should be comprised of those nutrients.
The vitamins A, D, and K2 all play important roles. Vitamin A aids in proper growth, protein assimilation, calcium assimilation. endocrine system function, immune function, and proper emotional development. Also, Vitamin A levels correlate with the rates of birth defects, and Price found that eye deformities were some of the first birth defects to occur with Vitamin A deficiencies. Vitamin D promotes strong bones, muscle development, reproductive function, proper growth, immune function, insulin production, and nervous system function. Vitamin K2 ensures proper development, especially in the facial bones, proper utilization and storage of calcium, prevents heart disease, reproduction, and synthesizes myelin for learning capacity. It is also important to note that one needs the proper balance of these activators since they work together.
When creating a diet plan, I wanted to incorporate “modern day sacred foods” in the chart below, good quality fats, and other nutrient dense foods. I decided to avoid grains (cereals), fruits, and processed foods for at least the first year. Because babies’ guts do not produce amylase, fruits (except bananas) and grains are not processed well in their guts. Many times this leads to gut issues or skin issues like eczema. Furthermore, grains, like rice cereal, do not offer nutrient density.
According to the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF), here are some of the “modern day sacred foods”:
|Key Nutrients for Brain Development
||cod liver oil, liver, butter, egg yolks
||cod liver oil, lard, butter, egg yolks
||butter, egg yolks, organ meats
||liver, egg yolks
||cod liver oil, liver, butter, egg yolks
||red meat, shellfish
Aside from brain development, it is important to incorporate other important foods for a healthy baby. WAPF noted that fermented foods provided more stamina and strength because enzymes allow the body not to have to work so hard. So, I added a probiotic to his morning purees. They also emphasized the importance of iodine for thyroid function and brain development, which led me to sprinkle kelp flakes on his food. All the cultures that Dr. Price studied also salted their food and had a source of gelatin or collagen, such as from bone broths. So, other daily additions for a healthy baby should include:
- collagen (from pastured-raised or wild caught animals, preferably) either from a broth or a pasture-raised collagen powder
- pinch of sea salt to food for digestion and adrenal function in morning (your baby won’t need prune juice to prevent constipation if you do this!)
- coconut oil at night to increase ketones for brain development and metabolic health
- cod liver oil
- half an avocado
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp kelp flakes
- pinch sea salt
- 1 serving of infant probiotic
- 1 serving cod liver oil
Dr. Price saw the strongest, thickest skulls in those that ate the most fish and shellfish, which protects against injury. So, I made seafood a focus of the diet. Now, my son’s favorite food is salmon! Finally, make sure to incorporate liver occasionally to their diet by mixing 3/4 lb of grass-fed beef with 1/4 lb of liver and a root vegetable like carrots or sweet potato to hide the taste. Liver is nature’s multi-vitamin!
There are also ways to pair foods to make nutrients more bio-available. Here are some great combinations:
- Foods rich in vitamins A, D, E, K with healthy fats
- Foods rich in iron with vitamin C foods
- Foods rich in zinc with sulfur
Even if your baby does not like a certain food, it is important to try a food several time as it potentially takes seven tastes to get accustomed to a food. Remember, this is not only the time to provide good nutrition, but it also is the time to develop taste buds for a variety of healthy foods so they can build sustainable healthy habits. By focusing on protein, fat, and vegetables in the first year, the taste buds grow accustomed to savory flavors instead of preferring sweet foods right at the start.