According to Chinese medicine, before digestion can take place in the stomach, EVERYTHING must be warm and soft like a soup – ideally 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Adults can warm cold and raw foods by chewing and producing more digestive fluids. Infants and toddlers don’t have the same ability. Therefore, once your start introducing foods around 6 month of age, food should be cooked to body temperature or just a little above or below.
You say, “What?!” “What about yogurt, cheese, dried cereal, baby food out of the pouch?” In the west we learn to introduce foods in a systematic order that allows an infant to eat all foods to which he or she does not have an immediate adverse reaction. The hazard is that these open-ended choices block babies’ digestive systems, leading to phlegm and other problems, which leads to illness. (See Why Babies & Children Get Sick)
Foods that are not warmed weaken and even injure the ability of an infants’ Stomach and Spleen to digest food. So warm up that applesauce (and everything else!)
When feeding an infant, food should be cooked and pureed to a thick soup. The more food is like the soup the body needs to create Qi and Blood, the easier it is to digest. While raw foods might have more nutrients, everything is stored in the cell walls. Vitamins and enzymes need heat from the digestive process to be released.
Imagine trying to eat food through the box or package in which it comes. When you feed babies uncooked, cold, or processed food, it’s like giving them the food in a package. Their inherently weak system cannot access the nutrients.
Raw, cold, or processed food for a baby is like you trying to eat food still in its package.
All of the nutrients that are in the food after cooking are sufficient to nourish and promote growth. More importantly, they are easily accessible for the baby to use and do not harm the digestive system.
In summary, according to Chinese medicine, infants’ and toddlers’ food should be cooked, then mashed, pureed, or made into a soup, NEVER raw, processed, or cold. You can introduce more solid cooked food as the infants’ teeth come in, but these foods should be cooked and soft.
Remember, your goal is to prevent coughs, colds, runny noses, diarrhea, constipation, and all sorts of other ailments. (See Why Babies & Children Get Sick) Honoring your little one’s sensitive digestive system will go a long way to keeping your child healthy!
Dr. Juli Kramer earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, with a cognate in Counseling Psychology and her M.A. in Psychology. She has a diploma in Chinese Medicine Nutritional Therapy, and certificates in Chinese medicine from Dr. Zhang Yifang, Shanghai World Hospital, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. With over 30 years of experience as an educator, Dr. Kramer founded Radiant Shenti to teach people how Chinese medicine (TCM) can help them lead healthy, happy, and long lives.
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