After all my research into what I should and shouldn’t feed my baby daughter, the information I found was limiting, bland, and in some cases, problem-causing (remember some foods are movers, and others are slowers!). I had to wonder, What do infants around the world eat? Surely, the rest of world isn’t feeding their baby rice cereal and pureed sweet potatoes and unknowingly turning them into tiny constipation bombs, are they?!
A nurse that runs a local moms support group told me once that the whole purpose in starting your baby on solid foods is to get them to eat the same food you do as soon as possible. So if I eat lamb curry, chicken enchiladas and lentil stew, shouldn’t my baby? Traditional parenting advice tells us no, bland is best, but as Dr. David Bergman, a Stanford University pediatrics professor, stated in this article, beware that there are a lot more baby feeding myths out there than there is support for them. New research is showing that what an infant eats will shape their later eating habits. So actually exposing your child to a wide range of foods, flavors and spices is the best route. As long as there is no family history of allergies to certain foods, most foods can be fed to a baby between the ages of 6 months and 1 year.
Need proof? Parents around the world feed their infants much more than bland foods, and traditional American comfort foods like macaroni and cheese and pizza. According to this article, African babies start off on meats, Japanese babies begin with fish and radishes, and French babes enjoy artichokes and tomatoes. British, Australian, and white South Africans babies start with toast spread with butter and a yeast based spread, typically Marmite or Vegemite.
In many cases, parents around the world feed their infants what they were eating, with minimal alterations.You probably don’t want to serve your infant foods high in fat or very spicy, but a little fat and a little heat can really enhance an infant’s palate. My father is from India, and grew up eating what his parents ate—rice, vegetable curries, dahls, and flat breads. He grew up no stranger to spicy foods, and I’ve decided to treat my daughter the same. I’ve slowly introduce my homemade blend of curry powder into various vegetable and meat dishes of hers, and she loved them. From there, I moved on to include Italian (minestrone with pasta), Mexican (turkey enchiladas with a dried chili and tomato sauce), African (lentil stew), etc.
My only rejected experiment was a very fatty version of spaghetti and meatballs, which was eaten with gusto, but returned a few minutes later with similar force.
So screw modern parenting advice. If you’d like to feed your baby a varied diet similar to yours, do it. The worst that could happen is they start developing a taste for everything. Wouldn’t that be a shame.
Do you have a child? What did you feed them as a baby?