There is a lot we can do to improve the health of our children. Whilst the microbiome in their gut is developing we have an opportunity to improve how the immune system works.
Around 70-80% of the immune system is in the gut and more research is always coming out that shows the link to our mental health, behaviours, insulin management and weight as well as links to hormones.
Your baby’s microbiota is thought to develop in the womb, and more studies are coming out that support this hypothesis. Newborn babies have a complex microbial community within the gut within a few weeks of birth; this tends to fluctuate over the first 3 years of life when it becomes established.
Babies born via a vaginal birth have a more complex bacterial balance, but babies born by c-section gain the same bacterial complexity by 8 weeks of life. A more diverse bacterial mix can take up more room leaving less space for pathogens. Research is still in progress around whether the immune system is altered within this period of time and what we can do about it.
If one of the risk factors for an altered microbiome are present (born by c-section, formula fed baby, premature or significant time in hospital, early antibiotic treatment) then focussing on the diet and environment are particularly important.
To find out more about how to support a health start to your child’s life get in touch. Anna offers a free 15 minute consultation to see how nutritional therapy can help you and your family.
Book onto our next Baby Nutrition & Weaning Class – or organise a private group class for you and friends at home.
We are sold baby rice as a safe, easy food to start weaning your baby, and many of us were weaned onto this as children, so your family may put pressure on to start with baby rice, it’s the done thing, right?
Well, through research, we now know more about the gut and our microbiome, how childhood eating links to health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease and also nutritional profiles of food.
Here are 5 good reasons why you don’t need baby rice:
We all know we eat too many processed grains and simple carbohydrates. When we eat carbohydrates our saliva begins to breakdown the food into glucose. By the time baby rice, which is around 94% starch, hits the intestines it will be mostly all glucose. The more processed foods are broken down to glucose quickly, which sets a cascade of insulin release and blood sugar imbalances. It’s easy to see how we begin to get a preference for simple grains.
Baby rice is depleted of nutrients, processed white flour. It’s sometimes fortified with synthetic vitamins which are not as easy for the body to absorb or process as natural food based forms of the nutrients. It’s a kind of filler, which displaces other nutrient rich foods with no real value.
Rice is known to be high in arsenic, including in infant rice cereal. Research last year into babies aged 6-12 months found rice cereal can markedly increase arsenic exposure among US infants relative to breast milk and formula.
Baby rice was introduced as a low allergen food that is easy to digest (because it’s so processed) which was important when babies were weaned very early on. The NHS advice now strictly advises babies are not fed solids until at least 4 months, with many parents waiting until 6 months to coincide with other physical developments such as sitting up, putting food in their mouth. This means babies are more ready for food at this later stage, and their gut is more developed so they can digest real food.
Part of weaning is all about developing associations and experimenting with foods. If your baby is ready for solid foods they are also ready for flavours, textures and smells – there is no need to disguise food as textured milk and mix it with formula or expressed milk.
Want to know more about baby weaning? To find out more about what foods help your baby develop, when and how to introduce solids and ask any questions to our Nutritional Therapist come to one of our classes on Baby Nutrition and Weaning.
These are really lovely little treats you can make for your weaning baby, toddler, or just yourself! Very easy to make, a toddler can help with the stirring if you want to get older children involved. Will keep for a few days in the fridge in an airtight container.
80ml coconut oil (melted)
2 mashed bananas
50g pumpkin seeds (ground in Nutribullet or similar)
Mix together and spread into a tin lined with greaseproof paper. Cook at a moderate heat – around 140C (Gas mark 3 or 4) – for 20 mins or until starting to brown. Let the tray cool and cut up into squares.
Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc which supports a healthy immune system, they contain essential fatty acids Omega 3 and 6 fats and also have and anti-parasitic effect (killing off nasties in our gut). Oats contain betaglucans which also help immune health and bananas are a good source of tryptophan which can help melatonin production, our sleep hormone.
Add other kinds of seeds to mix it up a little if you like. If you don’t have a powerful blender to grind up seeds to a powder, try ground almonds you can buy already powdered.
Baby Weaning Question:
Hi I was going to use pouches when out and about something like Ella’s Kitchen – what’s the recommended amount of salt and sugar I should be looking for on these pouches max? I just looked and one pouch was 9.9g of sugar!
Anna our Nutritional Therapist says:
Great question, basically you should look for no added salt and sugar for baby food, and where you give your own foods, just check that you don’t give lots of a food with high salt, sugar and additives in.
Where you do use pouches from Organix or Ella’s kitchen these shouldn’t have any added salt or sugars since they are purely for babies. What they do often have is a lot of fruit, often mixed in with the veg. So it might look like you’re giving vegetables, but the main ingredient is fruit.
So the Ella’s Kitchen products called Broccoli, Pears, & Peas is actually:
Organic pears 79%
Organic peas 14%
Organic broccoli 7%
You might think from the order of the ingredients in the title that broccoli was the main ingredient! And the Spinach, Apples and Swede is:
Organic apples 55%
Organic spinach 34%
Organic swedes 11%
Of course fruit is fantastic for your little one, it is high in sugar, but it’s full of fibre, antioxidants and vitamins. Amazing to get them loving the taste of fruit at an early age, and nothing wrong with that! But if you give ready made foods to your baby all the time you may unknowingly be giving mostly fruit all day rather than veg unless you read the labels and choose ones with only veggies in, it’s pretty misleading.
Ready made baby food is pasteurised so it has a longer shelf life. Again, no problem with this now and again, but many nutrients are lost during this process, so if you can cook for your family most of the time there will be many more nutrients in fresh home cooked foods.
If you’ve got a question about Baby Weaning please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or ask to join our Baby Nutrition & Weaning Facebook group where Anna, our Registered Nutritional Therapist can answer more questions.