When I had my son, I entered a steep learning curve on how to be a parent. Once I graduated from the newborn days, I thought the worst of it was behind me. Oh boy was I wrong. I was now entering the complex world of food and what was the best way to introduce it to my boy. The information was vast and contradicting and I was very confused and frustrated.
Being an acupuncturist, I turned to Traditional Chinese Medicine to guide me on my path, so I began to look at TCM food cures to guide me on baby’s first foods.
The concept is simple: offer foods that protect the integrity of the digestive tract and are easy to digest and assimilate.
From a TCM perspective, that would include foods that nourish and protect the Spleen and Stomach. (For older kids and adults check out the Qi Diet) Think sweet and starchy foods that are yellow or orange in colour.
SPLEEN NOURISHING FOODS – first baby foods (6-8 months)
- sweet potatoes & yams
- yellow beets
- all winter squash (pumpkin, acorn, kobocha, butternut, etc)
- zucchini (especially yellow zucchini)
- pattypan squash
- parsnip & turnip
- cooked apples
- cooked cherries
Make sure all of the above foods are baked or steamed and then pureed for baby. Only introduce one food at a time for at least 3 days before introducing the next food. Look for signs of intolerance such as: redness around mouth, anus or diaper area, mood changes, excessive gas, diarrhea, rash or hives, increased spitting up or vomiting, and increased mucous or nasal discharge.
SPLEEN NOURISHING FOODS – 7-9 months
- broccoli, cauliflower, kale, bok choy
- wild salmon
- organic chicken
- homemade chicken stock – simmer whole bird for a few hours – when cooled the stock should be jelly like (bone broth) – very nourishing, adds more sustenance for baby, and great flavour.
- dried figs (soaked in water and cooked with other fruits)
- egg yolk – organic
- virgin coconut oil – organic
- butter – organic
- avocado oil – organic
- yellow split peas (cook as a dal)
Again, make sure all foods are baked or steamed. Baby may want to start eating more solid foods, so you can cut foods into soft chunks and allow them to enjoy.
Adding fats to their meals (butter, coconut/avocado oil) will keep them satisfied and also nourish their brain and keep their digestive track protected (oils are warm in nature).
SPLEEN NOURISHING FOODS – 9-12 months
- oats – certified gluten free (slow cook with twice the amount of water)
- rice – organic (soak overnight in water, dump water and cook as mentioned above)
- quinoa – organic (soak overnight in water, dump water and cook as mentioned above)
- red lentils
- berries (cooked)
- pumpkin, chia, flax, sunflower seeds (ground into a powder and mixed into foods)
- nutritional yeast
Be sure to soak the above grains overnight in water to break them down and increase their digestibility. Slow cook them in at least twice the amount of water to create a porridge or congee. You can add in some spleen nourishing vegetables and warming spices (fennel, black pepper, ginger, cinnamon).
FOODS TO AVOID FOR THE FIRST 12-24 months
- gluten (includes wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, wait until 2 yrs old)
- corn (even though it’s a spleen Qi nourishing food – it’s highly allergenic for most people. wait until 2 yrs old)
- tofu (very cold in nature, wait until 2 yrs old. However, tempeh can be consumed by 18 months)
- bananas (cold in nature, wait until 12 months OR cook the banana and serve with other cooked fruits and cinnamon after 8-9 months)
- tomatoes (cold in nature, wait until 12 months)
- spinach (cold in nature, wait until 12 months)
- oranges (cold in nature and causes phlegm, wait until 12-18 months)
- cow dairy (choose organic goat milk instead – it is closer to breast milk in properties and easier on digestion – you can introduce a small amount of goat milk between 9-12 months)
- ice cold drinks (let smoothies and water be room temperature before consuming)
- peanuts (common allergen, wait until 2 yrs old)
- shellfish (common allergen, wait until 2 yrs old)