For thousands of years mothers fed their babies without the aid of commercial formula or jarred foods. These two concepts, store-bought “baby food”, are completely new, historically speaking so there can’t be any real need for it.
Unless, of course, you count the corporation’s “need” for profit and the mother’s “need” for a jar of food at the ready.
But we have been taught to think that a baby’s nourishment has to be carefully calculated into an exact formula in a lab and then bottled in a factory and somehow that is safer and even accurate to what a baby needs. When it comes to nourishing our babies I do believe that mothers know best and that it’s safer and much more affordable to do it at home.
Feeding Babies Well, Historically
Here is how mothers fed their babies for thousands of years before the advent of formula and jarred baby food:
- If you can’t breastfeed then find someone who can or feed them fresh milk from a healthy animal.
- Once they’re old enough and interested enough in that process of putting food in the mouth, start mashing up simple things that are essential to brain and body development – things like meats, vegetables, and traditional fats – and let them go to town with it.
Feeding Babies Well, Today
We’re all overcoming a bit of marketing and brainwashing that tells us many harmful and untrue things, one being that a scientist knows what you should eat better than a mother does. It is wrong, but it still must be overcome.
Some of the principles used historically to feed babies that still apply include:
Breast is best. Always breastfeed if you can, even if you don’t produce enough milk to completely meet their caloric needs. It’s free!
Feed them brain food. Brain development is happening rapidly for babies and small children and most of the foods that facilitate that are the ones that nourish the rest of their bodies as well. Key in this process are saturated fat, cholesterol, meat, seafood, bone broth, and fruits and vegetables (notice packaged rice cereal didn’t make the list).
Don’t feed them things you wouldn’t eat. How many of us would eat a steamed vegetable without any salt or butter on it? If we know what’s good for us, not many. So sprinkle a bit of sea salt into your baby’s puree and do not hold back on the butter.
Once we bring feeding babies back to the home, here are some resources to get you started:
- Homemade Formula. There is a recipe for homemade formula that involves fresh milk and various fats and ingredients that make the milk easy to digest and closest to mother’s milk as possible. You can find the ingredients through a company called Radiant Life.
- Real Food for Mother and Baby. This book can revolutionize and simplify the way you see the challenge of feeding your baby (and your pregnant self). This book is available at Cultures for Health here.
- Baby Food Mill. Once your baby is ready to start eating more “real foods” this food mill is invaluable. I just cook up whatever we are eating, throw a bit of it through the mill, and then we all sit down to eat – baby and all. This is so much simpler, to me, than spending an entire day making batches of baby food. Obviously this isn’t necessary as a fork or mortar and pestle could also get the job done.