Is the Paleo Diet Safe for Babies?

babies

It’s a big deal when a baby goes from only drinking formula or breastmilk to making the leap into the world of solid foods. It’s exciting, and also terrifying, for most parents — especially new parents. As a new parent myself, I thought that introducing solid foods would feel exciting, but when the time came to try some foods with my son, I felt more scared than anything else.

Even as a nutritionist, I worried that I would do the wrong thing. It is only natural for parents to want the very best for their children, but as I’ve learned, it’s best to approach food, and life in general, with a sense of trial-and-error as well as adventure. Every child is different, and some will be more sensitive than others. My son takes a lot after me, it seems, as he’s inherited quite a set of food allergies. He has been prone to rashes, hives, and eczema, so it has been even more critical for me to strictly regulate the kind and quality of food that he gets. A Paleo diet is absolutely safe for babies, and my son is a Paleo baby!

The Paleo Diet for Babies

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The Paleo diet is a perfect introductory food plan for babies who are just starting to eat solids. Initially, you can test the waters of solid foods with things like bone broth, cooked egg yolk, ghee, coconut oil, and basic steamed vegetable purees like peas, sweet potatoes, carrots, and squash. As your baby gets older and more used to solid foods, you can start adding a wider variety of vegetables, like broccoli, beets, and green beans, as well as fruits and meats.

Personally, I started my son on basic vegetable purees. He loved eating them, and then I added in some mashed avocado, stirred in some ghee with his vegetable purees, thinned some purees with some basic bone broth. After he reached 7 months, I started to feel more adventurous with him, and tried a greater variety like adding grassfed beef, chicken liver, and a pinch of Celtic sea salt to some of his dishes.

Because babies can tolerate milk better than most adults, I’ve also added some raw cheese and milk into his diet, making his Paleo diet more Primal for the moment. We’ve tried grass-fed yogurt and cottage cheese, too, but he isn’t partial to those sour flavors just yet.

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The beauty of feeding babies is that they’re actually just tiny humans. They have taste preferences, opinions, and growing levels of independence. Not every baby will tolerate the same tastes and textures, and even if they do, they may do it at different paces. The key to introducing new flavors or textures is to repeatedly try, and to try differently. My son did not like avocado the first several times he had it, and the wrinkly face he gave me when I gave him his first many tastes of beef and liver were quite priceless. Instead of forcing the issue or determining that he didn’t like it, I waited a few days or a few weeks and then reintroduced foods in different ways. The more I viewed introducing foods to him as an adventure, the more he seemed to enjoy the process, too.

Babies also have moods just like adults do. Some days he is quite excited about his steamed carrots or broccoli, and others he turns his nose up and clamps his mouth. Instead of deciding that he won’t eat carrots or broccoli again, I put them away for another meal. Typically, by the next meal, he’s interested in them again. He’s experimenting and learning that he has choice, and I think it’s important to allow him to do so without getting frustrated by it, at least where food is concerned.

Is It Okay For Paleo Babies to Drink Milk?

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Whether or not you give your child cow’s milk or goat’s milk is something that has to be determined by your knowledge of your child’s needs. If they show a dairy intolerance, goat milk may be the preferred choice. If there is a milk protein allergy, neither cow nor goat milk will be acceptable for their diet. For children with no sensitivity, whole cow milk can be used as part of their diet until age 2 or 3, but it’s important to keep in mind that milk is a food, not a beverage. Your child does not need to drink milk of any kind around the clock, so feel free to offer them a variety of liquid foods, including cow or goat milk, coconut milk, almond milk, and even bone broth. Water is the only beverage that they need, so opt for that instead of fruit juice.

Comments

  1. I have a “paleo” baby (he’s now 18 months), and as he gets older I am finding it harder and harder to deal with social situations. Every playdate, moms put the food at toddler level and the kids go at it. Triscuits, fruit snacks, whole wheat animal crackers… they are everywhere. Even though I believe that social interaction is great for my son, I am starting to avoid social situations because I find it so difficult to keep him from eating crap. What is a momma to do?

    1. Ania,

      I am having the same issues with my 19 month old son. He’s Paleo because of his allergies, so beyond just not wanting him to eat junk, he gets extremely sick if he even comes into contact with wheat, corn, soy, and especially peanuts. I’ve decided to take control of situations and host playdates at my house, where I don’t allow others to bring snacks in because we have an allergen-free house. I provide plenty of snack options and explain why I have to do it to the moms. In public/group social situations it is definitely harder, but I do tend to avoid socializing with people who aren’t respectful of my son’s need to avoid specific foods. It is difficult, but you just have to make the decisions that are best for your family, and sometimes that means taking each situation on a case by case basis.

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