In the health food world, we all recognize the benefits of a fresh, raw green juice. It is a far (far, far, far) cry from the children’s juices laden with unnatural coloring, high fructose corn syrup, and oodles of ingredients we are hardly able to recognize let alone pronounce. Check out some of these ingredient labels for a Kool-Aid packet (before adding the…how many cups of sugar?) and a Hi-C juice box.
I am of a mind that believes that whole foods as produced by nature are the absolute most ideal for our health, and that altering them, even by juicing or blending, alters them just a step down slightly from the perfection that they originally were. That being said, certainly juices have a proper place in the health food world as the fastest, easiest way to receive calories and nutrients when needed for certain ailments (Are you familiar with Gerson Therapy, for example?). Sometimes we even just crave a delicious fruit or vegetable juice and, within moderation, they’re fantastic!
Before I get into what my daughter’s first juice was, let me start with offering some information on why to be careful about infants consuming juices. I’m going to go ahead and assume your BLW baby that is eating solids is a minimum of 6 months old (right?). If you haven’t had a chance to read the basic guidelines for beginning BLW, hop on over to my previous post on this real quickly first. Juice (or solids for that matter) should not be given prior to this age. In fact, you can hold off on any juice at all until after the age of 1 year old if you find that fitting (some experts claim you should wait until after the first year to introduce it).
Be careful to not give your young one much more than an ounce or two (certainly you can give more if you have an older child). Breastmilk (or formula if that’s what you’re using instead), in the first year, should still be the primary source of nutrients for your baby and so you would not want to give juice in place of milk. Just as you should with solids, feed your baby first before offering anything else. Getting their fill off a fruit and vegetable liquid would leave them too full for milk, but not in receipt of the full amount of calories, vitamins, and minerals that they need at this age. Another reason to not give too much juice is because too much water can interfere with their tummy’s ability to absorb nutrients. Their little kidneys aren’t quite developed enough just yet to be able to handle high amounts of water.
That being said, fresh juice (when given properly) is nothing to fear when you consider that many of the solids we offer them have a high water content to begin with. It would be best to blend the produce so as to keep it as similar to the fruit’s whole food form as possible, keeping the fiber relatively intact. Don’t worry, you don’t have to make a teeny 2 oz juice or throw the rest away – I’m sure baby will be happy to share with you or drink the same thing as Mommy and Daddy (they do love to copy after all!). You can read more about juice and infants over at KellyMom. Keep in mind that much of this article is likely referring to processed juices rather than fresh raw juices and so won’t fully apply (though it’s still worth reading for the parts that do).
I felt like giving my daughter her first juice this week. There is really so little nutritional value in processed juices and so I have no intention of offering those to her. I really think she wouldn’t even know what to do with something so sickly sweet, and it’s certainly not ideal for a child’s dental health to drink that sort of processed sugar. I wanted the juice to cover a few specific bases:
- Include all raw ingredients for the most nutrients
- Include some greens
- Include a flavor she has never tried before
- Include some added protein and omega 3s
Did you know that chia seed contain more Omega 3s than even salmon when compared by grams?
For this reason I used some of our leftover kale, some organic frozen cherries from the dessert section at our local market (she’s never had cherries), and lastly some chia.
I used about 1/2c whole cherries, 1/2 kale leaf torn up, and 1/4tsp of chia. Blend this with about a 1/2c of water in your high-speed blender until smooth. This much water will allow for it to be thick but not so thick it will be difficult for them to suck through a straw or drink from a cup. Let sit just a few minutes so that it gives the chia time to absorb some of the water and soften.
This makes a lovely, pleasant and mild flavor combination. It’s not overly sweet which, even with fruit is a taste I try to avoid at this young of an age. It really is simply mild and fruity. My daughter at first was thrown by the cold temperature as of course her milk is typically at least body temperature but, being as she is teething, I think she really enjoyed the coldness in her mouth. She drank about 1-1.5oz and seemed overall to enjoy trying something completely different! It is not all that easy however, let me tell you, to get a photo of such things. 🙂