Reprinted from Nature's Field
Infant Weaning
by David Skousen

Mother's milk is best, but for how long? The best answer to that age-old question is probably just to leave it up to each mother and child to decide.
Some mothers prefer to breast-feed for as long as 2 years, while 6 months is enough for others. And with today's multiple stresses, some mothers don't get enough rest, nutrition or relaxation to keep their milk flowing for more than a few days. So what could possibly be substituted to give the baby adequate nutrition?

First of all, we need to know that baby's digestive system is not ready to handle the heavier foods tolerated by older children. That means "heavy" foods like meat. Breast milk doesn't get over two and a half percent total protein during the baby's fastest growth period, doubling his size in the first 3 months! By comparison, wheat can be over 14% protein. So let's stay with the easily digested foods, and use moderation with grains, etc.

WeaningSince breast milk contains over 200 nutritional compounds, to rely on commercial preparations has not turned out to be ideal for the baby's health. One of the major reasons is simply because scientists have been slow to become aware of the importance of subtle micro-nutrients in breast milk. After all, milk is very similar to the mother's blood and offers many advantages to the baby unmatched by any other formulation.

Commercial baby foods have not fared unscathed in the past. Sufficient evidence lead leaching from canned products, incomplete protein (the amino acid taurine was one, which could lead to blindness), not enough vitamin E to balance protein content, oils not compatible with the baby's digestive development all of this caused a great uproar in the '70s and early '80s. Before the problems were corrected, they were costing lives. Can we depend on commercial preparations today? We hope you will make your own as much as possible. Following are some rather quick and simple suggestions about how to do this:

Milk Substitutes

Cow's milk has many times more growth hormone than mother's milk. It has also been implicated in causing food allergies (even asthma) in children, and excessive growth rates. This will not be true of all children, of course.
Certified raw cow's milk is best, but goat's milk is better. Since most people will have trouble obtaining fresh animal milk, how about making your own out of nuts and seeds? Almonds have as much calcium as milk. A few can be blended in a cup of water. Strain away the pulp and give baby the results, you can have the pulp. Several kinds of nuts/seeds can be combined into one drink. Don't forget sunflower seeds.
If you want to try sesame seeds, soak 6 tbsp. of unhulled seeds (if you can get them unhulled for the additional minerals) in a cup of water overnight. In the morning, put in the blender, add another cup of water and blend until smooth. Filter the solids for bottle feeding, or let him drink it all from a cup if he can.

Remember that broccoli, oranges, cottage cheese, collards, green beans, bone meal and spinach also carry plenty of calcium, too. Since we are looking for a balanced vitamin/mineral diet, you can always add dabs of other things like kelp, brewer's yeast (but just a little please), lecithin and various other supplements. The idea is to use your blender to puree fresh, frozen (not canned) foods that are easily digested and nutritious. But remember that baby does not need the strong salty or sweet tastes enjoyed by adults. Something quite bland can be satisfying and enjoyable.

TV Dinner for Baby

For a busy mother, home-made frozen dinners can be made. Make up several meals at once when you discover what the baby likes-peas, potatoes, carrots, or even barley soup. Pour various entrees into popsicle trays for freezing. After they are thoroughly frozen, pop them out of the plastic trays into food bags, tie, and return to the freezer. Add other "popsicles" to the bag and remember the colors of each when you get them out to make a meal.
Desserts can also be made this way with fruit juices or purees, but babies don't need them. Before serving , place 1 or 2 cubes you have selected from your popsicle menu in his warming dish or in a pan on low heat for a few minutes. And don't forget food supplements (vitamins) when food is not fresh.

Food Grinders

There are several hand-operated food grinders available for quick food preparation, too. But in an emergency, mothers in Third World countries have been known to chew up the food themselves before feeding it directly to their babies! If you're in good health, why not? You saliva is loaded with digestive enzymes that are not yet well-developed in your baby's mouth.

Sprouts for Young Sprouts

When a child gets a few teeth, you don't need to blend sprouts, but let him enjoy mung beans. For seeds that leave a hard husk after sprouting, you may wish to wash them off (as for alfalfa sprouts) because of a small chance that they could lodge in the folds of the digestive tract and irritate the system. (Unchewed lettuce has also been known to cause discomfort.) If there is a question, blend all edible portions.

Cereals

Whole wheat and other grains are excellent, but only after a baby is older than 10 months. Before this time, the child may not have enough ptyalin enzyme in his saliva to begin starch digestion. This can result in colic and constipation. Be careful about mixing fruit with cereals (or other protein foods) so that the sugars of the fruit do not ferment while the grains are being digested. Adding just a little fruit should be fine.
If a child absolutely refuses to eat some fabulous dish put before him, don't force him. This may result in emotional set-points that can last a lifetime. The mother may not know that the child's body may be saying the food cannot be tolerated or is not needed at that time.
When you give -organic- fruit juices, dilute them for young children and let them progress gradually from simple to more solid foods. Continue to breast feed less and less, so that the child may easily adapt to the transition.

Supplements

Kelp will help balance trace mineral needs and even a little lecithin at times can be blended into the food along with unhydrogenated vegetable oils. Vitamin C powder (or crush a tablet under a tea cup), liquid vitamins/minerals, chlorophyll (which resembles human hemoglobin), etc., are vital. Don't forget magnesium and zinc.

Tips for Toddlers

It's best to introduce one new food at a time and see how the baby reacts to it. Watch for irritability, colic, or hyperactivity as signs of an allergic reaction. Make sure bananas and other fruits are well-ripened to prevent indigestion. Any canned food is not recommended.
An avocado is easily digested and packed with nutritional power. Unsweetened carob powder and pineapple add variety. Don't overfeed; studies have shown that this tends to encourage overweight later in life.

Teething Sticks

2 C. whole wheat flour
1/4 C milk (or substitute)
1/2 C of oil
2 C. wheat germ
l T. honey
Combine all ingredients, kneed until smooth, then cut dough and roll into sticks 1/4 inch thick and 5 inches long. Place on oiled (or use lecithin) cookie sheet and bake in 350F. oven for 40 minutes, until brown and firm. Makes 60 sticks. (The Herbalist, Sep. 1981, p. 22)
When a child is introduced to wholesome foods early, he will have good eating habits to help him get past the temptations of today's junkfood. And as he progresses from purees to solids and is ready to feed her/himself, be sure your camera is near at hand.

Obvious avoids

Canned food (when possible)

Fruit juice might seem healthy for your baby. In fact, it can cause many problems, from tummy aches to tooth decay. If babies drink a lot of juice, they might lose interest in the breastmilk or formula that is their crucial source of nutrients (including protein).

If you do want to give your baby some juice (say, after 12 months), dilute the juice half-and-half with water. Also really limit the amount you give. Look for pasteurised juice to avoid infections (it will be written on the label), and 100% juice. Avoid fruit-juice drinks, which could be loaded with sugar.

Soft drinks are full of sugar and contain virtually no nutrients. They are unsuitable for babies and children.

Mineral waters are high in certain minerals that can stress your baby's kidneys.

Herbal teas are not good for your baby.

Soy milk even with added calcium doesn't have the nutrients your baby needs. It is not recommended as a replacement for breastmilk or formula.

Commercial (non certified organic) cow's milk, rice milk or oat milk are not to be given to babies.

Copyright © 1999 by Robinson & Horne, L.C., P.O. Box 1028, Roosevelt, UT 84066. This material may be duplicated for educational purposes only (not for resale) provided it is not altered in any way.