Should I be worried about heavy metals?

Parenting is one worrisome thing after another, mama. Are they eating the right foods in the right way?

Dear Is This Normal,

My pediatrician just told me my daughter can move to cereals and even puréed veggies. She is 5 months old and with the whole baby food having heavy metals issue, I’m so afraid to buy baby food although I’ve read making your own baby food will cause the same issues. I’m told to try one veggie at a time for a week to make sure there are no allergies. First time mom and I don’t want anything to hinder my child’s development. Any advice on what’s best?


Worried Feeder

Dear Worried,

Oh, do I ever hear you on this. There are plenty of things to worry about when you have a baby, but starting solids can always be a new anxiety inducer.  We all want to do what’s best for our babes, and to find out that both store bought  packaged baby food and homemade baby food can have elevated heavy metals? This whole parenting journey can be so hard to navigate, especially with all of these roadblocks and speed bumps.

My perspective? Facts over fear. There’s so much information out there about solids and infant feeding. My biggest piece of advice is to do what FEELS right for your baby. And work closely with your pediatrician to make an informed starting solids plan. You know your baby best, and your doc has probably been in her life since she was born. 

So let’s address the elephant in the room: heavy metals in baby food. Obviously, a cause of major concern (and hopefully a catalyst for changes in environmental policies and FDA regulation!). I want to acknowledge that it’s simply not feasible to eliminate your baby’s exposure to zero when it comes to some heavy metals. Why? A few reasons: 

  1. Heavy metals are elements that occur naturally in our air, water, and soil, and generations of human pollution means that the heavy metals in our soil and groundwater have only increased.  
  2. Additionally, some fruits and vegetables are naturally higher in some heavy metals, like sweet potatoes and carrots. These root crops tend to absorb more heavy metals from soil and water.  
  3. Rice is particularly susceptible to contamination because of how it’s grown and processed – hence why it’s been a focus of many recent studies about heavy metals (i.e., inorganic arsenic) in baby foods like rice cereal.

So what are worried parents to do with this information? Our babies have to eat, right? Even though there is no perfect solution that’s going to eliminate 100% of all heavy metals from the foods we eat and the foods we feed our kids, we can definitely take precautions and make choices that significantly lower our exposure.  

Here are the recommendations: 

  1. For starters, consider skipping the rice cereals and avoid baby foods that contain rice – opt instead for organic oats, chia, hemp, or buckwheat. Little Spoon’s Babyblends are made up of 100+ USDA Certified Organic and non-GMO ingredients. Their foods are not subjected to extreme heat or lengthy commercial sterilization. Plus, because they partner with Certified Organic farms, we know their produce is grown in soils free from any sewage sludge or biosolids.  
  2. Another way you can minimize exposure is by feeding your girl a varied diet! Carrots and sweet potatoes have a lot of nutritional value, and experts aren’t suggesting eliminating them completely from your baby’s diet. But, they shouldn’t be a staple, or all she eats. Introducing her to a wide variety of foods at the beginning of her solids journey can mitigate the risk of heavy metal exposure.
  3. Ensure her diet is rich in minerals and nutrients like calcium, iron and vitamin C, which help reduce the body’s  absorption of heavy metals. Broccoli, bell peppers, chia, spinach, and blueberries can all be amazing first foods for your little one. Plus, it helps her develop a more adventurous palate! 

I totally understand your concern about allergies – I think all parents share those concerns when their babies start solids, food allergies are no joke. But unless you have a family history of allergies, experts say there’s no reason to introduce one food at a time, even in the beginning. If the foods she’s eating are easy to isolate (say, zucchini in the morning and pears at lunch), you would still be able to narrow down the culprit in the event of a reaction. 

Parenting is one worrisome thing after another, mama. Are they eating the right foods in the right way? Are they sleeping enough? Hitting the milestones they should be hitting? Our worries never really shut off. But our gut, our parental instinct and our intuition can be such a force in guiding us to do what’s best for our kids. You’re asking the right questions, worried, and hopefully I’ve been able to give you some answers that can help ease your worries, just for a bit.

Here to Ease Your Worries,

Is This Normal


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