Clean Eating for Babies and Toddlers

(My wee one helping blend up a batch of coconut milk)

Making the transition from a grain-filled, processed food life to grain-free is quite challenging, especially if you have children! I was reminded of this when a friend recently messaged me on facebook about taking her infant daughter off of gluten and starting her on a grain-free diet. I wrote down a ton of advice, and at the end, I felt the weight of making such rapid, seemingly extreme changes! What a challenge! Is it really that difficult to find foods that are clean eating for babies and toddlers?

I’ve only experienced my own transition from eating grain and processed foods to grain-free and home cooked. My baby has been eating clean from day 1, so I’ve never had to worry about weaning him off of bread, or pancakes, goldfish crackers, or other baby snack foods. I’m lucky, I guess, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t understand how difficult this change will be for so many parents.

Let me just congratulate you if you have made the decision to change your diet or your family’s diet: You are investing in a healthier, happier future!

Before I list off our favorite baby-friendly foods, let me first make note of the importance of feeding your baby based on what teeth they have. This is incredibly important for the baby’s digestive system because his or her body will tell you (as evidenced by what teeth they have) when they are ready for certain foods! Bodies are incredible at communicating. Basically we can break baby food down by stages: pureed (no teeth or just incisors), mashed or soft (incisors), whole (premolars and molars, and meat (canines). Here’s just a sampling of what our baby eats (on top of being breastfed).

Raw applesauce
Raw pear sauce
Raw coconut pudding (Young Thai coconut meat+dates+blueberries+blender on high)
Raw green beans
Basically any fruit or veggie you can throw in the blender

Mashed or soft
Sweet potato (baked, steamed, or boiled)
Coconut flour pancakes
Mashed organic potatoes
Mashed soaked beans (my baby has a sensitive gut so we still don’t do beans yet)
Plum Organic’s Fruit and Veggie Shredz

Premolars: Raw apples
Raw Sugar snap peas
Raw celery
Nut butters (homemade sprouted almond butter is the best!)
Soft raw nuts (cashews and pecans)
Sprouts (alfalfa, lentils)
Anything your baby seems interested in that won’t choke him!
Molars: Hard sprouted raw nuts
Grains (sprouted rice, wheat, oats)
Lundberg’s organic brown rice cakes (yes, I do still give my baby grain!)
At this point, your baby will want to eat anything you eat! Just no sugars, corn syrups, etc.

Meat and Fish (our baby has no canines yet, so he has only tasted this category)
Organic grass fed meats or gravies
Sustainable, no dye added, wild caught fish (sometimes farm raised can be better, just check Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Guide)

Milk Alternatives

Breast milk (intended for baby consumption for 2+ years!)
Coconut milk from Young Thai Coconuts
Almond milk from soaked and sprouted almonds

Just a Note: Milk and Dairy

I’m not ever going to feed my baby milk or dairy. There are lots and lots of reasons, from worries about hormones and antibiotics creeping into his system, to future intestinal issues that dairy can cause. Also, calcium deficiency can be exacerbated by drinking milk (what? really?) because it depletes the calcium in the bones through improper absorption.

At the end of the day, feeding your baby can be a difficult and daunting challenge. Some babies are picky eaters and won’t eat a fruit to save their lives. Just listen to your baby’s cues for food, and try to bribe them if you can.

That bribing thing really works.