Friday, July 15, 2011

Kids and paleo: What will we feed our daughter?

I have so much to say about kids and nutrition, so before this turns into a rant about kiddie menus, convenience food and tricking kids into eating vegetables I'm going to make a commitment to keep this post on topic. Today, I'm only going to discuss my plans for my daughter's diet (although, admittedly, I'll probably blog about the other stuff at some point).

A few people have asked whether we intend to raise our daughter on the paleo diet. The simple answer is yes, absolutely we will! Based on my own personal experience, the triumphs I've witnessed in the lives of my friends, the countless testimonials I've read and all the research I've done I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that paleo is the way to go.

With that said, nothing is really all that simple (especially when it comes to parenting). I know that the choice to feed our daughter in a non-mainstream way is going to present some challenges. Social challenges in particular. Nonetheless, I am committed. Life is full of challenges. Some are avoidable, some are not and some we choose for ourselves because the benefits ultimately make the challenges seem, well, not so challenging. Whatever types of challenges come up because of our choice to keep our daughter away from grains and other garbage will be well worth it in the end.

So, what exactly is the plan? In the early months, breastfeeding of course. You can't get any more paleo than that! I do realize that some mothers are unable to breastfeed, and while I don't anticipate that scenario (I'm not going to go into this in detail right now, but I've heard that paleo goes a long way toward making breastfeeding a lot easier) I also know that this might just be one of those things that is out of my control. If it doesn't work out for me, I'll seek help from a lactation consultant. I'll try physical therapy/ultrasound. And if all else fails, I'll use the best organic formula I can find.

When she's ready to transition to solids, Carl and I will give her homemade baby food. We will not feed her fortified rice cereal, and on the rare occasion that she gets something from a jar it will be organic and free of grains, legumes, sugar and additives (if I can even find such a thing!). After the baby food era comes to an end, she will eat what we eat. If we're having chicken and broccoli for dinner, she will have chicken and broccoli for dinner (I won't, of course, force her to eat food she's not interested in -- I believe kids who are fed properly know instinctively what their bodies need and want -- but that does not mean she'll get a special meal of Krap macaroni and cheese). She will snack on high-fat, grass-fed dairy (like cream and yogurt), but she will not receive low-fat cheese sticks, GoGurt (or anything made by Yoplait) or pseudofood such as "American cheese." Her diet will be full of healthy, whole foods like fruit, vegetables, sweet potatoes, avocados, coconut, eggs and organic meat. If she is anything like the other paleo kids I've heard about, she will thrive (mentally and physically) on this diet.

Despite all of this, I do not want my daughter to go through life never having a treat. So, when the time is right, I will allow her to try some ice cream or a cookie. For one thing, I want to know how she reacts to sugar and gluten (in case she's severally gluten-intolerant, for example). But I also don't think that completely avoiding all treats at all times is necessary (not in our family, anyway). How can I keep her from an occasional treat when I myself indulge now and then? The key, though, is that treats will be just that -- occasional. And, they won't involve fast food or candy bars. She will understand why we have treats on (some, not all) special occasions and she will also (in time) learn how her body responds to non-paleo food, so she can decide for herself whether something is really worth it.



  1. Have you read much about baby-led weaning? Fascinating stuff, and to me, quintessential Paleo.

  2. Interesting! When I read your comment, I thought it was something new to me, but after following your links I realized a friend of mine did it that way (with great success, I'm pretty sure). I like the concept a lot; I'll have to read up some more! Thanks!!

  3. I've seen nothing but rave reviews on the forums and blogs I've found. As long as you can get past some raised eyebrows about the extended breastfeeding that comes along with it (but seriously - when did a one-year-old obtaining most of his/her nutrition through breastfeeding become socially taboo?!), it sounds so much easier and more fun than pureeing, chopping and playing "here comes the airplane" ad nauseum. I love the idea of harnessing a child's natural curiosity to open their mind to new foods. And I am *so* looking forward to having a kid who never goes through the "beige foods" stage (eating only Cheerios, KD, PB&J sandwiches, crackers, plain pasta, etc.). J and I keep joking that our kid's first solid food will be a hunk of steak. Who knows... it just might be ;)

  4. What do you suggest for milk for a 11 month old? I have only just learnt about Paleo in the last couple weeks and my husband and I are both following it now pretty strictly. I was only able to breastfeed for a month (just no milk came in despite a lot of effort) and then my daughter was fed formula. Now she has rejected drinking formula and before knowing about paleo we put her on homo milk. She does eat solid foods but very slowly so her intake is quite low. Milk is still the majority of her daily calories for sure. Is there an alternative to homo milk you would suggest? I hear some people say goats milk and others saw raw dairy milk?

  5. Great question! I don't know the answer, but I'll ask around and see if I can find out some info for you.


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