Bringing a little one into the world is one of the most exciting and fulfilling experiences in any parents’ life. But making choices that affect your little one’s health and wellness can seem daunting. In a world filled with so much conflicting information, it’s difficult to know who you can trust. As new parents, we are faced with so many decisions: will we nurse or give formula? Make homemade baby food or give premade? Go conventional or organic? Who can we turn to for the answers? Our babies don’t come with instruction manuals…so who knows best? Surveying friends, family and doctors can produce vastly differing opinions leaving you even more confused than when you started.
So, who can you trust? The health associations that we believe are impartial are often influenced and funded by their donors. For example, remember that time this summer that the world condemned coconut oil based on the American Heart Association’s recommendation? But did you also know that American Heart Association accepts significant funding from the Canola Oil Council? Seems convenient that they went after Canola’s main competitor when there is so much hard research showing coconut oil’s health benefits. (Learn more in this podcast).
But I digress…My point is that as a parent you really need to do your own research and consider the source when it comes to taking care of your family. Just because something is the popular way of doing something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best way. But if we can’t trust the health associations, what about our own doctors?
Unfortunately, the truth is that while the best pediatricians may be extremely well-versed in medicine, they rarely study nutrition—which is kind of crazy since they are probably the main source most parents learn about baby and child nutrition.
Since most pediatricians aren’t nutrition experts, often, they follow the American Pediatric Association recommendations for what children should eat. And remember what I said about the American Heart Association? Well, after taking a quick glance at top donors of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), I found that several of their biggest donors are manufacturers of infant formula and pharmaceuticals. So again, it’s good to know these ties when considering the credibility and potential biases. (You can check out their report from 2016, which lists its donors here).
Feeling completely overwhelmed yet? Fear not, I turned to a nutrition expert who I know always does her homework and who is one of my the most trusted sources for health recommendations in the industry.
Her name is Kimberly Snyder, she is a nutritionist and multi-time New York Times best-selling author of The Beauty Detox series and Radical Beauty. Kimberly’s advice is often featured on The Today Show and The Dr. Oz Show and has been featured in many other publications like The New York Times, Vogue, Elle, InStyle and Vanity Fair, among many others. She’s also lauded by nearly every celebrity in Hollywood (Reese Witherspoon, Drew Barrymore, Kerry Washington and many others).
But her newest and arguably most important job is that she’s a new mommy to an adorable baby boy she calls Bub! What excellent timing for the rest of us struggling mommies out there who need to get to the bottom of baby nutrition! I was lucky enough to interview Kimberly about infant nutrition. So let’s get to it!
Katie Lara: Hi Kimberly, thank you so much for taking the time to discuss baby nutrition and health with us today. We are so grateful for your time. I know that lots of us struggle with wanting the best for our little ones and not knowing where to turn. So I am happy you’re here to help! I’m going to jump right in!
So, not all of us have an easy time nursing and producing enough milk to feed our babies. Or some moms just don’t enjoy it or it isn’t feasible with working, etc. What are your thoughts about dairy and formula for babies and children?
Kimberly Snyder: This is a tough question. I know that a lot of Mamas struggle with breast milk, despite eating lactation-promoting foods, staying hydrated and doing everything in their power that they can! I recommend choosing an organic formula no matter what the specific type is. And I think it’s a personal choice that needs to be discussed with your pediatrician. Of course, unfortunately a lot of pediatricians have not studied nutrition in-depth, and might be apt to just recommend the standard dairy-based formula. I’m personally not an advocate for dairy for all humans- babies or adults.
The Harvard School of Public Health just announced their Healthy Eating Plate to address the deficiencies in the USDA MyPlate guidelines. Notably, they recommend limiting all milk, cheese, dairy and red meat and avoiding cold cuts and other processed meats altogether. Harvard states, “there is considerable evidence that too-high intakes (of dairy) can be harmful.” You can check it out here.
I won’t get into it all here, but there are thousands of studies linking dairy to a wide variety of human health issues like increased osteoporosis, and a 49% increase in mortality rates from those with breast cancer. I have whole sections on dairy in 3 of my books citing dozens of studies- here are just 3 of them.
We are the only species out of millions that drinks the milk of another animal. Dairy is made for a baby cow, not a baby human. It is an extremely acid-forming, phlegm and mucus-forming food, and many hypothesize a connection between dairy and issues such as ear infections and respiratory disorders in children.
The amino acid composition of human breast milk is different from cow’s milk. Cow’s milk is much higher in casein. Human milk provides more cystine, which is a sulfur-containing amino acid. Sulfur and nitrogen retention are critical for protein assimilation. This is why the protein in human breast milk is completely usable for the baby, while only some of the protein in cow’s milk formula can be used and may be very difficult for baby to digest.
While it may not be ideal either, there is organic soy formula as an option, assuming there are no allergy issues.
KL: For people who aren’t followers of yours this may sound pretty shocking because even for one-year olds, pediatricians recommend three servings of dairy a day for calcium and vitamin D. What would you recommend to replace this?
KS: I talk extensively in The Beauty Detox Solution and my other books about how milk is NOT the best option for calcium that is actually retained in the body. Sure there is an impressive amount of calcium listed on the label of the milk carton, but upon digestion, alkaline minerals- and namely calcium- are pulled from the bones to help neutralize the acid-forming effect of dairy digestion, resulting in an actual net calcium loss.
There is a lot of research to back this up that I cite in my books and on my website, but I thought since you brought up pediatricians I would bring up my own pediatrician instead here.
It is critical to understand that most doctors don’t study nutrition specifically. What I love about our pediatrician, Dr. Jay Gordon, is that he has not only been part of the teaching faculty at UCLA Medical Center and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, but that he took a Senior Fellowship in Pediatric Nutrition at Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York City. He is a pediatrician that is actually ALSO trained in nutrition! This is quite rare, and I want to emphasize that again.
Dr. Gordon is an advocate for breastfeeding and supportive of non-milk alternatives and avoiding dairy. I got this quote from Dr. Gordon (which I wholeheartedly agree with): “I always recommend dark green vegetables for calcium. Soy beans, navy beans, tempeh and, easiest, fresh almond milk. We need far less calcium than most old reports say we do.”
KL: Is there anything in milk that babies can’t get elsewhere?
KS: No! And Dr. Gordon furthers, “There is absolutely nothing in cow milk that we can’t get from other dietary sources.”
KL: What about when other kids are drinking milk when they get off formula, what do u recommend instead?
KS: There are other great milk products that have good fats, such as hemp milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, hazelnut milk, almond milk and so on.
KL: What are some Kimberly Snyder approved snacks that don’t involve time in the kitchen?
KS: The best teething foods I gave Bubs were cut-up apples. He would gnaw on them like a mouse! I never had to give him puffs or teething biscuits. For snacks, he loves avocados, bananas, cut up grapes, pear, quinoa & veggie burgers and chia pudding. Also the Endurance Bar recipe from the Beauty Detox Foods is great for kids to make and store!
For very little attention and time you can cook up some lentils and steamed veggies and take them on the go.
KL: Is there a pre-made baby food that you trust or do you think it’s really important to go homemade?
KS: I totally get being a busy mom- and I am one busy mom myself juggling many things! But I would encourage moms to get a Vitamix and a steamer and make a few simple things, in batches, which is fresher and more nutrient-dense than pre-made squeezey packets and the like. Simple is more than okay, it’s excellent!!
You can make the Glowing Green Smoothie (GGS), and steam veggies and try baby led weaning with finger foods. That is the combo that I did with Bubs. GGS was the first food Bubby had after breast milk, and he has 1-2 sippy cups every single day and has rarely ever gotten sick! He is an energetic, chubby little baby.
KL: To save some time, how do you feel about using boxed, pre-washed or frozen vegetables?
KS: Yes on both! It helps make it happen and are great practical options
KL: What Sippy Cup do you recommend?
KS: I’ve been using the BPA/BPS-, PVC-. Phthalate-free Lollacup, which is weighted and has a thick straw for the GGS and is easy to clean!
KL: FYI I use ThinkBaby’s amazing straw bottles. They are free from BPA, phthalates, nitrosamines, lead, PVC, PET, and biologically harmful chemicals
KL: I know you are all about probiotics, what are your thoughts about them for babies?
KS: I believe that babies need them in their diet too! I open one of the Kimberly Snyder SBO Probiotic capsules and give Bubs 1/3 of it, which can be easily sprinkled on food. For older children I would recommend to up the dose to ½-1 capsule.
KL: There is so much plastic in everything we use. What do you do about plastic toys?
KS: All of Bubs toys are wooden instead of plastic. I let it be known to friends and relatives that I knew would give toys no matter what- I wasn’t shy or embarrassed about it! Better to not have people waste their money, right? I do this to avoid unnecessary pesticides, toxic glues, and flame retardant chemicals. Wooden toys are fantastic and sturdy.
KL: Any tips to avoid baby getting sick or tips when they do?
KS: Breastfeed as much as you can – which is proven to help build Baby’s immune system. But don’t feel bad if you can’t – we are all doing our best! Babies need love and happy Mamas that are taking care of themselves as well!
I’m a big advocate of giving baby probiotics to further help with immunity and living in the modern world. I give Bubs the SBO Probiotics even though I’m still nursing.
When your baby is sick, try staying very hydrated, taking little sips of cooled ginger tea, probiotics (I’ll mention them again), and vitamin-C rich foods and drinks (depending on age), such as the Glowing Green Smoothie.
KL: Any picks for healthy furniture?
KS: I use a super high tech baby company that is virtually toxin-free for Bubs mattress. It’s called Kalon.
KL: What baby books do you recommend for parents?
KS: Disease-Proof Your Child 100 Promises to my Baby, The Conscious Parent
KL: Any Mommy hacks or tricks you’ve learned along the way that may be helpful to others?
KS: Having Bubs has changed who I am, I used to love my own yoga time and mediation time but I learned that with Bubs my life can be shared. I am happy to mediate while he is breastfeeding on my lap and do errands while he is wrapped to me. I did what felt natural to me and all moms have their own instincts when it comes to their baby. I believe that moms should do what they feel and I learned to not worry about what others think. I do what is best for my baby and my family and don’t look for approval from others, and I encourage all moms to do that as well.
As a working mom, I’m in a flow of coordinating walking Bubs in the stroller so he can look around when I am on conference calls, doing my deepest writing/most concentrated work when he is napping, and swapping work and playing time constantly every other moment he is awake- working much more slowly! And working after I put him to bed…hence why I am doing this interview at 9:30 pm. I wouldn’t change it at all- I love being a mom, but I also love my work. Every mom has to find her groove, whether that is going back to the office, staying home for a while, or working from home, like me. I’ll say it again- do what feels right to you and go with it!
KL: When making our green smoothies (which our daughter loves!), we know that organic fruits/veggies are the best. There are lots of considerations in busy lives. Buying at the store may mean having non-organic ingredients.
KS: Organic foods do have more minerals and nutrients and less pesticides and toxins. It’s also of course better for the earth. That being said, if budget is an issue, I would recommend soaking inorganic foods for a while in a water bath with a veggie wash or some apple cider vinegar, and which will help with the pesticide removal to an extent (though not add more nutrients back in), and make the Glowing Green Smoothie anyway.
The EWG guide is great for being the smartest with your budget towards choosing organic foods that have the most pesticide content, and do your best! And you’ll still get nutrition and benefits. And hey, a non-organic GGS is infinitely better than most every other breakfast option out there, like bagels and cream cheese or McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches.
KL: Thank you so much for taking the time to share your wonderful advice with us today! It has been eye-opening and beyond generous of you to share your time and limited bandwidth. We can’t wait for the future when one day we can read an entire book about your tips for building healthy kids!
Useful Links and Information
Snyder continues to build momentum around her brand “Kimberly Snyder Lifestyle” (KimberlySnyder.com), which features supplements and information products, including her signature SBO Probiotic formula. Snyder is also the founder of Glow Bio, an Los Angeles-based organic cleanse, juice and smoothie company that ships nationally, and is also home of the world famous Glowing Green Smoothie®.