Originally, I had planned to not introduce any grains until the girls turned 1. Two weeks ago, I had a bit of a change of heart. I wondered if I was being too conservative in my approach. Afterall, many pediatricians will recommend introducing rice cereal as early as 4 months. The girls' friends are also eating a variety of grains already. Now, I'm not one to succumb to peer pressure. If you've been reading my blog, you'll be able to tell that I adopt a more alternative approach to health and wellness and tend to go against the grain (no pun intended). While I don't agree with rice cereal or the introduction of wheat before a year, I thought that I would give quinoa a whirl with the girls, especially since they were nearing the 10 month mark.
For the last two weeks, on most mornings, the girls have had quinoa, millet or amaranth mixed with fruit and sometimes some pure vanilla and cinnamon. Those three grains are gluten-free and are low-allergen. They are high in protein and fibre, among other nutrients. While wheat is considered higher on the allergen scale, it has also been heavily processed, which means that many of the nutrients have been removed. It can also cause digestive upsets. This is why I'm not in any rush to introduce it to the girls.
The girls have been loving their version of cereal. They would devour a large bowl of it. This made me happy because those grains are not only a healthy breakfast option, they are foods that I love too.
My happiness faded about a week ago. [Warning: Discussion about poo] The girls started having far more dirty diapers. I'm talking up to 6 in a day. I also noticed that the grains that they were eating were coming out whole. This means that their bodies were not digesting them at all, which also means that they were not benefiting from all the fabulous nutrition that quinoa, millet and amaranth offer. We often hear people talking about certain foods that "go right through" them. This is not a good thing. Those foods that go right through us irritate our digestive tract and disrupt the good bacteria in the process.
Amylase is an enzyme that our body makes to digest grains. Babies do not produce amylase until after their first birthday. I knew this but still decided to try the girls on a few grains anyways. Most people will fold up that dirty diaper as fast as they can and throw it in the bin. Not me. As disgusting as it is, I look at their poo. It can tell you a ton about how your baby's body is dealing with the food's that you're giving him or her. You can do this for yourself too! Here's a good article, if you'd like more info.
So, if babies don't produce amylase to digest grains, why is infant cereal pushed on parents so aggressively?