I have read before that babies aren’t supposed to have grains, and how this contradicts what pediatricians and parents have been recommending for baby’s first food: rice cereal. What I read made sense- grains are very dense and requires amylase to help digest and break down the food. Because their system is so new and has yet to adapt, it cannot adequately digest the food. But at the same time, I couldn’t help but wonder okay so when can they “suddenly” digest grains? Most sources said after a year or so.
After posting a meal I prepared for Evie that contained oatmeal on our instagram (@eviesjourneyblw), I briefly mentioned that some prefer to wait before offering grains, and I noted that I personally didn’t see an issue with it in moderation. A user commented about the dangers and how it should be prepared ground if offered at all. For me, that just didn’t sit right. How can a baby digest red meat, or other complex proteins, but not a grain? While I appreciated the advice and tip- I am always willing to learn and hear other’s perspectives- it was time I really sat down and investigated the issue I had been avoiding for the past three weeks.
After a few hours of internet scrolling and trolling……
Will I be giving Genevieve grains? Yes.
Each parent has the right and privilege to parent how they see fit. Do what you want- if you agree, cool, if not, whatever. For me, I think grains are okay. I’m not going to offer them at say, every meal but I won’t go grain free either. Like anything else, I believe it is all good in moderation. This article by a pHd educated nutritionist pretty much answered the feeling I had in my gut:
The bottom line is that it is safe to feed babies starchy foods. They can digest them, and they are one part of a varied, balanced diet for babies that are ready to begin eating solid foods.
Amylase & Digestion
The scientist explained that although babies do not have much pancreatic amylase to digest starchy foods as well as older children and adults, they do have salivary amylase. Right away? No- but by the time they are old enough to safely be eating solid foods (usually 6 months+) the amount of amylase in their mouth is usually sufficient. Picture this: how does a baby eat? Do they just bite and swallow? No. They swish, gum, chew, spit, play, and mash the food in their mouth first. This messy process not only protects them from choking but also helps their saliva begin the process of breaking down food.
Furthermore, in breastfed babies the amount of amylase working for them is increased significantly. Breastmilk has 25x more amylase than cows milk, and 50% of that amylase stays active when it reaches the stomach, even hours after consumed! Can you believe that? Another amazing fact about breastmilk that I am happy to have learned! So, after the salivary amylase starts the job, the amylase in breastmilk will continue the process before the food continues it’s way through the body.
The final stop for nutritional break down is the small intestine, where glucoamylase works as an enzyme further dividing the glucose from the starch in the molecules of food. It’s ironic, because the levels of glucoamylase is “very active” in babies!
Whatever does not get processed by then, moves on to the large intestine where it actually helps feed the microbes that keep the villa thriving. This regulates bowel movements, further digestion, the whole bit.
It’s a good thing I am #TeamGrains since Genevieve already loves her carbs!
For this crunchy mumma, I will be continuing to stick with the philosophy that drew me towards baby led weaning in the first place: I will give my baby the same food I give myself. That means I have gotten better about what I eat (reducing sodium, watching preparation methods such as frying vs. baking or grilling, organic and all-natural when available, etc.) I
don’t try not to overload on carbs or proteins, so neither will Evie. She keeps me in check to make sure I provide an environment where she learns to love and eat healthy, nutritious food. Years from now when I cannot control what she eats I want the habits and example we leave now to make a mark that if she is hungry, and apple or cucumber is a delicious snack instead of chips or snack mix. I know it is inevitable that she will eat junk food- I myself at six chocolate chip cookies I baked today, but being a parent means you don’t always get to be fun. I don’t and won’t give her crap food. She will get enough of it when we go out to eat, she buys lunch at school, special occasions, and her own choice when she is older. When I no longer have control, I just can hope she sees good examples and makes good choices.