How to Start Solids with baby on the GAPS Diet {and what we do in our family}

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GAPS Diet - when to start solids and what to start

Starting babies on solids is something all mothers think about, some wonder when the soonest they can introduce a baby to solids is, others want to put it off as long as possible.  Every family needs to choose a method that works for them; it’s my belief that not only are all babies different, but all families are different as well.  Here’s what we did, as well as what Sally Fallon of Nourishing Traditions advises and Dr Natasha Campbell McBride of Gut and Psychology Syndrome.

How I Introduced Solids

I was super relaxed about feeding solids to my kids.  With my two older children, I waited until they met the ‘baby led weaning’ (could sit up unassisted, were at least 6 months old, had at least one tooth) and then offered some whole single-ingredient foods to them.

My third child showed a huge interest in solids early, and he was on the small side so I started chicken liver (cooked and salted) with him at 5 months, which he still loves now at 12 months.

When introducing first foods, I offered a bite off my plate, as baby usually sat with me at meal time anyway. As they

Both of my older children had no interest in swallowing solids until about a year.  I would offer a couple times a week (it’s messy! I’m lazy and don’t want to clean mashed squash from the ears of a baby who isn’t actually eating anything!) and see when they started swallowing food.

We avoid grains for the babies, and for our whole family really as much as possible as other foods are much more nutrient-dense.  My second child started solids just as we were starting GAPS (his first birthday ‘cake’ was whipped butternut squash with some salt and a candle!) so he was primarily grain free until he was a preschooler and we went off the GAPS diet.

I breastfed my babies on demand; my daughter nursed all.the.time. and my son often went 4-5 hours between feedings from birth.  My children were totally different sizes; my first being about 6.5 lbs at birth, and my second 11 lbs (yes, 11), and then my third was a nice easy 8.5 pounds. Different babies are different, that’s why it’s so important to research things like feeding, but then watch your individual baby and do what is working for them. On my children’s totally different feeding schedules they both grew, and both were happy, so it worked.

 

Once solids were introduced, I watched for reactions and then pretty much just fed my young toddlers table food.   Nursing continues in our family until at least 2 years, but after a year I start nursing less on demand and scheduling breastfeeding sessions more.

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Some things that worked for me:

  • Don’t stress if they don’t eat, they will eventually (I questioned this a lot around 11-12 months with my daughter!)
  • If your baby is still hungry and is breastfed, look up block feeding to encourage them to get the fatty hind milk out
  • Salt their food! Use real salt to taste.  Babies need salt.
  • Hold off on sweet foods like cooked fruit until baby is eating proteins and veggies.
  • Smile, nod, and do what you were previously doing when given well meaning advice about feeding your child.
  • Watch your baby like a hawk when you think someone might slip them some unauthorized food.  Don’t be afraid of offending them, nobody needs to be giving your infant a lick of a lolly pop or bite of ice cream and it’s your job as a parent to protect them.
  • Don’t stress if your baby is ready for solids early, some babies are. Trust their bodies.  Introducing solids as late as possible isn’t the goal any more than introducing them as early as possible.
  • Introduce fish, cod liver oil, egg yolks, and liver early, most babies like these.
  • Tea tree oil topically relieved mastitis for me.
  • Fenugreek tea boosted my supply, but I also think it made my milk more sugary, make sure baby is getting enough hind milk.
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Nourishing Traditions on Feeding Babies

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Sally Fallon talks about traditional cultures supplementing breastmilk at 4 months.  She stresses prenatal and pre-conception nutrition, especially with a focus on animal fats, shellfish, and organ meats.  She warns about a mother with a low quality diet producing low quality milk; while I don’t disagree with this, I do think that human milk in nearly all situations will be better for a baby than non-human milk.  Breastfeeding is recommended to continue to 6 months to a year (I believe a minimum of 2 should be standard).  One egg yolk a day with a small amount of grassfed liver and some sea salt is recommended to start at 4 months.

Click here to get the liver recipe that I use

Cereal grains are advised to avoid until age 1 or 2.  I like this quote on page 601 from Nourishing Traditions, “Remember that babies should be chubby and children should be sturdy and strong, not slim.  Babies need body fat to achieve optimum growth.  The fat around their ankles, knees, elbows, and wrists is growth fat that ensures adequate nourishment to the growth plates at the ends of the bones.  Fat babies grow up into sturdy, well-formed adults.”
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Gut and Psychology Syndrome on Feeding Babies

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Natasha Campbell-McBride has a chapter in the new version of Gut and Psychology Syndrome (page 351) that explains her views on feeding a baby in a GAPS family.  Because these babies are more likely to have poor gut flora and be nutritionally depleted due to poor health in their parents, special considerations are taken.  Breastfeeding is, of course, encouraged, and if that is not possible a wet nurse or milk donor is encouraged (I love this- human milk for human babies should be normal). If for some reason baby must take formula, probiotics should be added to the bottle from the start (Nourishing Traditions has this in their handmade formula as well).  As with the entire Gut and Psychology Syndrome protocol, emphasis is placed on reducing toxins as well as eating wholesome foods. Natural crib mattresses should be used, and commercial baby care products with toxic ingredients should be avoided.
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The Order of Starting foods in the Gut and Psychology Syndrome Feeding Babies Protocol
  • Breastmilk
  • Homemade meat or fish stock, no salt, start with 1-2 teaspoons starting at 6 months for a breastfed baby.
  • Freshly pressed vegetable juice diluted with warm water between meals, carrot then cabbage and celery
  • Add probiotic food to stock, start with 1/2 teaspoon a day: Whey, sauerkraut juice, yogurt
  • Vegetable soup or puree from peeled and deseeded well cooked veggies and stock (no starchy foods like potatoes or yams)
  • Boiled meats
  • Ripe avocado
  • Raw organic egg yolk added to vegetable soup
  • Cooked apple as apple puree, butter, coconut oil, or ghee added
  • Pancakes made with nutbutter, squash, and eggs
  • Add fresh apples to veggie juice
  • Raw vegetables: Lettuce, peeled cucumber, carrot, celery, cabbage- all blended/pureed
  • Gently scrambled egg with raw butter
  • Ripe raw apple without skin
  • Ripe banana with brown spots (fruit should be given away from meats)
  • Homemade cottage cheese
  • Grain free bread
  • Small amounts of natural salt
  • Table foods that are GAPS approved
 Starting babies on nutrient dense foods - not cereal
Coming soon:
babys first foods the empowered mothers guide Click here!

Click here to get the liver recipe that I use

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After the GAPS Diet: What to eat first as you transition off

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Transition off GAPS 54321

“The majority of GAPS people do not have to adhere to a special diet for the rest of their lives: once the digestive system starts functioning normally, they can gradually introduce most wholesome foods commonly eaten around the world.” Gut and Psychology Syndrome, page 156

Once a person feels stabilized on GAPS (not highly sensitive to whatever they were sensitive to before and without any digestion issues) they often will want to transition off GAPS.  Dr. Natasha explains how to do this in her book, in various places.  Foods are introduced in order of how easy they are on the digestive system.

“Introduce one food at a time and always start with a small amount: give your patient a small portion of the new food and watch for any reaction for 2-3 days.  If there are no digestive problems returning, or other typical-for-your-patient symptoms, then in a few days try another portion.  If there are no reactions, gradually increase the amount of the food.  These are starchy foods, so do not forget to serve them with a  good amount of fat to slow down the digestion of starch.  Do not rush with the introduction of these new foods, it may take several months to do it properly.” Gut and Psychology Syndrome, page 155

5.  Cream.  Cream is lower in lactose than milk (even raw milk) due to its higher fat content. The fat in cream is often welcomed by GAPS people as it is highly nourishing when it comes from milk made by cows that are grazing on pasture.

“After two years on the diet a lot of GAPS people find that on an occasional basis they can have any natural dairy product without any apparent problems, including cream and cheeses off the allowed list. I would only make an exception for alive raw milk.”  Gut and Psychology Syndrome, p 125

5.a.  Raw milk. Raw milk is a favorite among traditional foodists.  Being able to drink raw milk straight, without having to turn it into yogurt or kefir first, is exciting!

“GAPS patients need to go through the dairy introduction structure (see the GAPS book) before trying raw milk: Once all homemade fermented raw milk products are well tolerated  and cheese has been introduced, many GAPS people can start drinking raw organic milk” Gut and Psychology Syndrome, p 127

4.  Potatoes.  Potatoes are starchy, but less difficult to digest than grains are.

3.  Fermented Buckwheat.  Fermenting the buckwheat breaks down the phytic acid and pre-digests the starches to make it easier to digest for a GAPS person.

2.  Soaked Rice and other gluten free grains. Once buckwheat is going well, you can introduce other soaked and sprouted gluten free grains.

“If your digestion is normal you can have potatoes, sourdough bread, and whole grains cooked at home in moderate amounts.  Remember that all these carbohydrates must be consumed with good amounts of natural fats… let people say about you: “she likes a bit of bread with her butter!”  Gut and Psychology Syndrome, p 347

1.  Gluten containing grains, occasionally.  A GAPS person who has had their digestive system healed will be able tolorate gluten containing grains occasionally.  In our house we keep mostly gluten free, other than occasional sourdough.  When we go out, it’s amazingly freeing to be able to eat gluten without any noticeable effects.

“Your patient will never be able to go back to the typical modern diet full of sugar, artificial and processed ingredients, and other harmful “foods”.  Gut and Psychology Syndrome, p 155

What we did

We did GAPS primarily for my daughter, who had autism.  When she had been on the diet 18 months we experimented with some lactose by using occasional store-bought plain yogurt (GAPS requires 24-hour yogurt, which has used up all the lactose).  Lactose is the first more complex carbohydrate allowed on GAPS as you are transitioning off.  After a few months that were fine with increasing store bought yogurt, we added in raw milk, which contains even more lactose.

Then we tried potatoes, which were fine in small amounts but any more than once a week would produce some fogginess.  We tried buckwheat, but that didn’t go over well (skin rash) so we had to take it back out.

At 2 years while she was continuing to do well on occasional potatoes and raw milk, she wasn’t making progress with anything else so we tried some alternative treatments as well.  She had also been stuck on reacting to simple sugar (fruit, honey- both of which are GAPS legal) and that was cleared up with traditional Chinese medicine.

GAPS is fantastic, but it doesn’t always fix everything. After the TCM, she was able to tolerate more foods. Not everyone will need treatments other than GAPS; my son and I (healed eczema and a long standing dairy protein allergy respectively) just did GAPS intro for about 3 weeks, full GAPS for another 3 weeks, and then transitioned off quickly using roughly the guidelines in this post.

We like to do a week or two of GAPS intro, and then a month of full GAPS once a year.  I feel like this keeps picky eating in check for all of us, and we get a chance to see if going back off intro or full GAPS brings any problems to the surface, suggesting that we could use more of the same.

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