Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Feed Babies Food, not Cardboard!

Ian at 6.5 months enjoying uncured sausage and fermented sauerkraut.

“Guggie do you give your kids baby cereals? I'm wanting to avoid them and do Baby Led Weaning (BLW) with my 6 month old.The ped is pushing the cereals though b/c it's fortified with iron. I’ve also heard that cereal can make them sleep longer at night.”

No, I do not give my children baby cereal. After researching the baby cereal products and the science of grains in general, I think it’s the equivalent of poisonous cardboard. I also wonder if the iron issue is based on premature cord clamping that deprives infants of their normal blood volume/stem cells and poor gut health of the mother and baby. (Poor gut health can lead to an inability to absorb iron).

Nature has given us many other foods with bio-available iron and these foods also come with a variety of nutrients and antioxidants. Since introducing foods to babies is all about sharing the joy of tastes and textures, why bother with a dull, unappealing, processed cereal?

Consider these thoughts:

~The cereal is often made using several grains making it harder to pinpoint allergies and harder on the system of a new BLW baby.

~Even if it isn't a mixed product, they are still processed in the same facility, so there is cross-contamination.

~It's difficult/expensive to get non-GMO, organic cereals.

~Researchers are alarmed at the levels of toxic arsenic, cadmium and lead in baby cereals.

~In addition to the above toxins, baby cereals will be filled with fluoride. Learn about the detriments of fluoride exposure here:

~They are fortified with a mixture of cheap, synthetic vitamins, which are not only basically useless to the body, but most likely harmful: 

~If your baby is in the 50ish% of the population with an MTHFR polymorphism, then synthetics are setting him up for methylation and immune system issues:

~It's nutritionally deficient cardboard that has been processed and heated beyond recognizable food. It fills your child's tummy, leaving no room or interest for a variety of raw, nutrient-dense foods such as avocado.

Even other doctors are upset at the blanket statement on supplementing iron. This response was signed by 6 doctors:

"The authors did not address potential harms of supplementation, and they did not discuss the difference in bioavailability of iron contained in human milk versus iron-fortified fluids and foods. Given that research has shown potential harm in infant growth and morbidity when iron supplementation is provided to iron-sufficient infants, one wonders if universal iron supplementation will be deleterious to the population of developing infants who are breastfeeding exclusively.8" (The response also points out that anemis is found in only 3% of breastfed babies who do not take supplements).

And even the head of the AAP’s breastfeeding committee publicly denounced the new iron supplementation guidelines. Here is a summary:

Here is an excellent slideshow that covers just about anything you might wonder on this topic:

Here is a good chart on iron sources. I’m not advocating using everything on this list, but it does a good job of listing many options and their iron content. I suggest avoiding unfermented soy and unprepared grains.

Remember to provide lots of citrus fruits (preferably organic as most citrus fruits are contaminated with pesticides) since iron is best absorbed with vitamin C as a co-factor.

This site has good info on starting grains:

Remember to prepare your grains for your whole family to reduce harm and increase assimilation:

Whole grains might be a nutritional fad. Traditional cultures did not always consume the whole grain:

Some people believe babies are ready for grains when their molars erupt, as molars are the teeth used to grind. This would mean grains get introduced around 9 months at the earliest, to after a year.

As for whether or not a baby will sleep longer when fed cereal (or formula), science is proving this to be an urban legend. I don’t dismiss a mother’s observations, though. It makes sense to me that since cereal (or formula) is hard to digest, it might sit in the stomach longer, giving a false sense of fullness to the baby resulting in longer sleep cycles. Despite my theory, research has shown that babies fed formula or cereals at night do not sleep longer than babies fed milk. breaks down this myth with cited sources:

Jan Barger talks about baby cereal and sleeping here:

And even the mainstream calls this a myth:

The other question I want you to consider is: Do you think it’s healthier and safer for babies to sleep deeply or sleep for a long time?

Science has shown us that the short sleep cycles and light sleeping patterns of babies are actually important for brain development and prevents SIDS.

Here is one mainstream article on the topic:

 At any rate, if you have concerns about your baby’s iron levels, a quick test at the doctor’s office can confirm levels. I want to make it clear that although I do not promote baby cereal as a safe, healthy or effective way to provide iron for our babies, anemia IS a valid health concern and DOES need to be addressed if that’s the issue.

If levels are low but not severely, food supplementation can be very effective. For example, a spoonful of blackstrap molasses given with fresh squeezed orange juice can provide a lot of iron to a baby. At the very least, if you do choose an iron supplement, research all of the ingredients as many of the popular ones (such as the Sol drops by Enfamil) contain various chemicals and toxins.

Mamas have asked me IF I wanted an iron supplement, what I would choose and I always say it would be Floradix, an herbal, liquid iron supplement:

Here is one mama’s journey:

And I will save the best for last, another kellymom link with an excellent analysis of iron supplementation and cited research:


  1. I've always cooked our breakfasts in a cast iron skillet. Eggs, bacon, etc, and all of my kiddos and myself have great iron levels. I don't know if this is a bad way to get iron...? but I love my skillet, its the best non-stick skillet out there. If I treat it well and cook bacon every so often it stays nice and non-stick.

  2. I am Italian and we love, love, love to eat pasta and bread. It's the core of my diet. I'd have no clue how to eliminate this from my everyday... but I'm willing to try reducing our consumption a little. Though, I understand about soaking grains, but I'm not sure what to do about baking. I buy my flour so what should I do? Should I be adding white flour to my recipes instead of whole flour? Or does this simply apply to grains that have not yet been ground?

  3. yay for this- but one question, I was under the impression that OJ and citrus in general was something babies should steer clear of until their first birthday? yea or nay on that?

  4. Hi Ballerina Baller! A baby who is not ready for citrus fruits will benefit from a nursing mama who eats the fruits herself and absorbs more of her iron intake. :) Baby Led Weaning is still very much intermingled with nursing and babies will continue to draw nutrients from milk, even past the first year.

  5. Great post Guggie! :)

    Nadia, you can ferment the flour with cultures (aka sourdough fermentation), there are several sites with recipes you can google around.

    (lazy to log in with my acct lol)

  6. Oh, sorry not to address to the citrus question! This article here is a good summary:

  7. Nice blog abiout babies food. At any time you can feed your baby organic food I am in full support. But, like anything, it is all about moderation. As long as they are getting healthy clean foods, your child will be happy and healthy.

  8. This is the first blog I have ever read of your Guggie and I am left wanting more,like stay up all night and read, more! Love it, love you and Thank You for being you....for women like me. Am I able to ever "share" these??

  9. So glad you mentioned floradix! It is a life saver for the immediate postpartum and great for kids who need the supplemental boost. One thing I didn't read here (though I did start skimming midway down) is that You can MAKE YOUR OWN cereal rather than buy that crap in the box. Then, you know it's organic and without anything else bizarre but it is still just grains. So, I would make it and use it to combine with other foods and I would choose wisely the grain. LIke- Quinoa, a complete protein and an amazing grain. Or, brown rice but again use it for food combining. I love the links to further research, very thorough and educated post!

  10. I just want to point out that quinoa is not a grain but a seed and is known as a "pseudo grain" because it can be used in place of grains. :) I eat it every day! LOVE quinoa. <3