I received this email from a health care practitioner who is a young mother. As I replied to her, it occurred to me that maybe these comments would be helpful to other young mothers who read this blog. (Similar content is found elsewhere on the site and in my writing.) Please do not consider this medical advice. It is my opinion based on my research and having raised four babies of my own. I do not suggest things regarding raising children that I don’t follow. But always, always follow your instincts as a mother. I believe those promptings to be God-given and more powerful and trustworthy than anything an M.D. (or any health care practitioner) will tell you. (That said, do your homework and listen to experts. Be selective about which “experts” you trust.)
Also, a heartfelt apology to those who don’t receive personal answers to emails because I get so many–I so, so wish I had time to answer them all like I did in the beginning, please forgive me.
Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: My husband and I have recently started having green smoothies each day and we are feeling great. I have an almost 8 month old daughter, who currently nurses and eats avocado (almost 1 a day). We would like to start some other foods with her, but I’ve been holding off as I don’t want to do those recommended by my pediatrician and conventional books.
I read somewhere on your site that babies have difficulty digesting cooked food for a while. I would love to start her off on raw greens, spinach, kale, etc. Do you think this is safe? I think the reason that most people give for the recommendation that all baby food be cooked is because raw food could be contaminated with bacteria and cooking kills that. What do you think about this? She’s eating the avocado raw and many books say raw bananas are fine, maybe because those are both contained within a skin? You also wrote about doing mostly veggies the first few years and then fruits, which I love! I think that makes so much sense. I guess my bottom line question is: are the raw veggies safe or should I cook the greens?
I’d REALLY appreciate your feedback on this. I am a first time mother and a bit tentative about some of these decisions. My daughter’s health is literally the most important thing in the world to me.
Thanks so much for the help and inspiration you have given to me and my husband.
Much love, Heather
Answer: Heather, avocadoes are beautiful for babies (wonderful fats for brain development, easily digested, excellent enzyme profile, and higher in calories). And yes, plant foods encased in skin are the safest of all. I would go to bananas next, not just because they’re in skin, but also because they’re enzyme rich, higher in calories than most fruits, and nutritionally powerful. Then see if you can find raw goat’s milk. Make it into kefir or yogurt (see Ch. 8 of 12 Steps). Then try a simple green smoothie with few ingredients, teaching her to drink from a straw, or making it thicker and feeding it with a spoon.
But the longer you can nurse and avoid food, and the more of her calories she gets from your breast milk, the better–up to 18 months! (That said, don’t agonize about feeding her “regular” food–just make it wonderful whole foods!) If you do feed her cooked stuff, like brown rice or quinoa, do so in a meal WITH raw foods containing enzymes, like a green smoothie.
People are worried about contamination with bacteria, but the older your baby is, the less I would worry about this, especially as she gets older and especially if you have endowed your daughter with a healthy digestive tract by nursing her. I personally worry more about denatured foods gumming up her little digestive tract (refined grain-based “cereals,” cooked veg/fruit baby foods, etc.) and forcing her body to produce lots of mucous to flush it out, than the fact that natural foods sometimes contain bacteria that, 99.9+% of the time, is not only common and safe, but also helps develop a healthy immune system. Use organic produce for smaller babies/children as much as you can, and wash any conventional produce well with a good, natural fruit/veg soap. Remember than conventional animal products (dairy/meat) have much higher pesticide and chemical concentrations than even conventionally grown produce. (John Robbins documented this well in The Food Revolution.)