If you’re not a stranger to my recent posts, you understand that what our most trusted and honorable government health organizations (a bit of sarcasm there) tell us to eat is NOT ideal for humans.
Knowing this, I’ll fancy you not shocked to learn that I don’t believe the mainstream nutritional recommendations for infants and children are ideal either.
What is the mainstream dietary recommendation?
Per the CDC:
Encourage Your Child to Eat
“Offer your child a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meats, and yogurt or cheeses. Make a rainbow of different colored foods on your child’s plate. Here are a few examples:
- Fruits: bananas, strawberries, pears, oranges, melons, or avocados.
- Vegetables: cooked spinach, carrots, beans, peas, lentils, yams, or beets.
- Whole grains: whole grain breads, crackers, or pastas.
- Proteins: soft, small pieces of beef, lamb, chicken, fish, turkey, eggs, or tofu.
- Dairy: pasteurized cheeses or yogurts, including soy-based yogurt.”
Whilst there a couple items on this list that look good, the common recommendation to feed infants and children plates full of grains and vegetables is NOT based on sound reasoning and/or science.
These foods are not easily digestible and contain anti-nutrients like phytic acid that block nutrient absorption. They also have inflammatory proteins like gluten and lectins.
These foods are not a great bioavailable source of fat-soluble Vitamins A, D, E, K, or essential nutrients like creatine, taurine, and Vitamin B-12.
Can you live off them? Sure.
Will you thrive off them? Unlikely.
As for dairy, it should NOT be pasteurized (AKA processed, denatured, and nutritionally altered to deplete enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients). It should be raw, and from healthy, properly raised animals.
For people that can’t wrap their head around eating RAW dairy, please see this previous post.
What should a child/infant mainly be eating to optimize their health and development?
The most nutrient-dense, easily digestible foods on the planet. These foods are high in the nutrients that a young human needs to thrive: fat-soluble Vitamins A, D, E, K, as well as B-Vitamins, Choline, carnitine, creatine, and minerals like zinc, copper, and selenium.
Without a doubt, the best food an infant can consume is breast milk from a mother eating a nutrient-dense diet.
When it comes time to introduce solids (this can vary depending on the maturity of the child, but usually 4-6 months), we want to ensure babies and growing toddlers are getting the most nutrient-dense foods.
What are those foods?
Egg yolks and red meat and/or liver.
We know a baby’s brain is rapidly developing. We also know how important it is to get adequate Vitamin A, D, E, K, B12, B6, Choline, and Cholesterol (amongst many other nutrients) for the brain to properly develop.
Egg yolks and liver are the absolute best sources of these nutrients.
Beyond those two, other good foods to have children eat regularly include full-fat cultured dairy (kefir, yogurt, etc. ideally raw), bone broths, meats, butter, and cream.
A bit of good quality salt (ex. Redmonds) is important for babies and kids to get the sodium-chloride for stomach acid production. This will help ensure they can digest solid foods more easily.
Most plant foods will be difficult for children under 1 to digest due to the starches, inflammatory proteins, and anti-nutrients found in those foods.
An exception would be ripe bananas. Other fruits should be introduced slowly as the child’s digestive system matures beyond 1 year of age.
While you should not stress about being PERFECT with your kids eating, trying to get these foods in regularly will help your child grow and develop optimally.