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Posts from the ‘Nutrition’ Category

The EAT Study: More food for thought on earlier introduction of solids to prevent food allergy

A recent study found that babies that started eating peanut, wheat, dairy, eggs, fish, and sesame by 3-4 months had a lower rate of food allergies. But it also calls into question whether this protocol would be appropriate or even possible for all babies.

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What’s Up With the Virgin Gut? Do Babies Really Have an “Open Gut” Until 6 Months of Age?

There is a persistent myth about infant gut development that comes up in nearly every online discussion of starting solid foods. It’s the myth that infants have a “virgin” or “open” gut until around 6 months of age. I’ve received so many emails, Facebook posts, and comments about the virgin gut over the last few years that I thought it was finally time to take a look at the science – and lack thereof – behind this myth.

I have written before, in my book and on my blog, about the controversy around when to begin introducing solid foods to a baby. Some health organizations recommend 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, while others recommend starting to offer solids between 4 and 6 months, following baby’s cues of readiness as your ultimate guide. Based on my analysis of the most current science, I believe that the second approach is more evidence-based and helps parents to focus on their baby’s unique development rather than the calendar. I also think that it’s just fine to wait until 6 months if that is your preference.

However, whenever I discuss this science, someone lectures me about infant gut development, and they usually send me a link to KellyMom’s page on the topic, which urges parents not to offer solids before 6 months. Here’s what it says:

“In addition, from birth until somewhere between four and six months of age babies possess what is often referred to as an “open gut.” This means that the spaces between the cells of the small intestines will readily allow intact macromolecules, including whole proteins and pathogens, to pass directly into the bloodstream. This is great for your breastfed baby as it allows beneficial antibodies in breastmilk to pass more directly into baby’s bloodstream, but it also means that large proteins from other foods (which may predispose baby to allergies) and disease-causing pathogens can pass right through, too.”

Wow, that does sound scary! I can see how this “open gut” idea would worry parents approaching the transition to solid foods. But here’s the thing: There are no references given to support these statements, and in all my reading of the research literature on readiness for solids, I have not encountered science backing this concern. Yet somehow this idea of the open gut comes up over and over in online discussions, complete with judgment for parents who offer solids before 6 months and non-evidence-based suggestions about how to “heal” a baby’s gut. All of this only serves to increase anxiety in parents, which is the last thing any of us need.

It’s time to get to the bottom of this. Let’s look at some science…

What do we mean when we talk about an “open” or “closed” gut? How do we measure this? Read more

4 Parenting New Year’s Resolutions, and Books for Inspiration

This time last year, I had a week-old baby, and my New Year’s resolutions were simple: Be present with my family, find gratitude in each day, and take care of myself. These goals were simple but not always easy. Still, it helped me to come back to these intentions for the year when I started to feel overwhelmed. I’m reaffirming those resolutions for the coming year, but I’m also feeling more ambitious and inspired about bringing more creativity, fun, and learning into each day with my kids.

I love books for inspiration, especially for projects with Cee. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I get too easily side-tracked or overwhelmed on Pinterest. I like to find great books and work my way through them. So for each of my resolutions, I’ve found a book or two as a jumping-off point for the year. (All of the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, so I receive a tiny commission if you buy through a link, at no extra cost to you. More here. I received no compensation for this post, and unless otherwise noted, I purchased these books myself.)

1. Do more art together.

I think everyone needs to make space in their life for creating something, and kids naturally want and need to explore different ways of doing that every day, whether it’s through building a fort, making music, cooking, or painting. This year, I want to do more creative art with Cee. We often need a quiet activity in the afternoon while BabyM naps, and this feels like a special way to spend time together.

Inspiring this resolution is the beautiful book, The Artful Parent, by Jean Van’t Hul. This book immediately drew me in and kept me up late for a couple of nights of reading and scribbling notes about how to set up a great space for doing art, supplies that I want to add to our collection, and projects I’d like to try. But before I even got my hands on this book, Cee intercepted it and thumbed through it carefully, leaving sticky notes on every page that showed something she wanted to try.

The ARtful parent

Our copy of The Artful Parent, with Cee’s color-coded sticky notes marking projects of interest. (Light pink indicates two inspiring projects, dark pink one.)

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S.I.T.! Feeding Your Child Using Stability and Independence at the Table

Guest poster Melanie Potock, pediatric feeding specialist, shares her best tips for comfortable and pleasant feeding of babies and young children using the S.I.T. Model: Stability and Independence at the Table.

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4 Signs Your Baby Is Ready for Solid Foods

Want to know when your baby is ready to start solids? Watch your baby for these signs of readiness (and mostly ignore the calendar).

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Starting Solids: 4 Months, 6 Months, or Somewhere In Between?

When is the best time to introduce your baby to solid foods? I sort through the research to find out.

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What To Do About Babies and Peanuts: New Study Finds Early Exposure Can Prevent Allergy

A recent study found that feeding children small amounts of peanut products in the first 5 years of life can prevent the development of peanut allergy. Here's what you need to know.

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The Whole Truth About Infant Cereals: 7 Science-Based Tips

Readers Brenda and Leah wonder if they need to feed their baby a commercial infant cereal. Here's the answer, in 7 parts, all supported by science.

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New Research on Gluten Introduction to Infants and Risk of Celiac Disease

Two new studies indicate that timing of introduction of gluten and breastfeeding have little impact on the development of celiac disease in high-risk babies.

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What’s so important – and stressful – about family dinner?

A recent study reports that moms find the task of getting family meals on the table incredibly stressful. Let's look at what's really important about family meals and how to simplify the task.

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