Bone Broth for Babies: What Every Mother Should Know
Bone broth is often praised for its healing benefits in adults. This wonderful elixir helps repair joints and cartilage, rebuild muscle tissue, and support a healthy immune system. But have you ever wondered if these health benefits could be passed to your young child?
When introduced slowly and carefully into your baby’s diet, bone broth has the ability to provide many health benefits. It can help develop bones, teeth, joints, and other connective tissue. It can also help diversify your baby’s palate as solid foods are introduced.
Below, you will learn why bone broth is so healthy, the various health benefits it contains, and how to introduce it into your baby’s diet.
What Is Bone Broth and Why Is It So Healthy?
Bone broth is made from animal bones, herbs, and vegetables that are slowly simmered in water for up to 24 hours. First consumed up to 2,500 years ago, bone broth has been used as a healing agent for centuries. Homemade bone broth can be made from the bones of any animal, resulting in chicken broth, beef broth, and pork broth.
So, what makes bone broth so healthy? Bones and other connective tissue contain collagen, which is slowly released through the simmering process. Collagen is filled with amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and minerals (3). Collagen has been shown to strengthen hair, skin, and nails, help build muscles, and repair your stomach lining (1, 5, 7).
There are actually many different types of collagen (28 known varieties!) that each have specific health benefits. Type I collagen is found in the highest concentrations in bone broth. It’s found in tendons, ligaments, bones, and skin. It helps repair wounds, build strong bones, and, gram for gram, is stronger than steel (11).
The Benefits of Bone Broth for Babies
There are numerous ways bone broth can benefit your child. However, before feeding your baby bone broth (or introducing any new foods, for that matter) be sure to check with your child’s physician. Once he or she gives the green light, your baby might experience the following benefits.
Bone Broth Is Easy to Digest
Bone broth strengthens the digestive tract, helping prepare your baby’s digestive system to start solid foods. It is much easier to digest than rice cereal, cow’s milk, or baby cereal. Plus, when weaning your baby off breast milk, he or she might miss out on critical nutrients, like iron. Bone broth is filled with minerals and amino acids, helping to fill these nutritional gaps.
Bone Broth Is Easily Absorbed
Foods that your body can digest and absorb quickly and easily are known as highly bioavailable. Bioavailability refers to how well a food is absorbed into your body’s circulatory system. Cooking bone broth for hours on end increases the bioavailability of the food, allowing important nutrients to be easily released and absorbed.
Bone Broth Is a Prebiotic
Some of your little one’s first foods tend to be probiotics like yogurt or kefir, but in order to maintain a healthy balance of gut flora, you need to “feed” the probiotics with prebiotics. Prebiotic fiber is a non-digestible part of food. It goes through the small intestine and is fermented when it reaches the colon, feeding the good bacteria (including probiotic bacteria) in your baby’s gut (6).
Bone Broth Is Nutrient Dense
Bone broth is filled with nutrients, including B vitamins, iron, and other minerals, as well as gelatin and the amino acids it contains. These help develop the baby’s teeth, bones, hair, nails, and joints. Even if your baby only wants to eat a few spoonfuls, you can have peace of mind knowing he or she consumed plenty of beneficial vitamins and minerals.
Bone Broth Boosts the Immune System
A baby is born with an immature immune system that gradually matures as the baby grows (7). It can take almost triple the amount of time for a baby to recover from the common cold, compared to an adult. Bone broth’s ability to repair and strengthen the gut can help protect your baby’s immune system. Its ability to strengthen the stomach lining can also help prevent against food allergies and food sensitivities.
When Should You Start Feeding Your Baby Bone Broth?
Infant nutrition is a sensitive subject. You should always consult your doctor before introducing a new food into your baby’s diet. While the consumption of bone broth should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, here are some general guidelines to follow.
Six months is the standard, absolute minimum age you should start feeding your baby bone broth, as it’s not suitable for very young babies. You should never feed your baby bone broth before that point.
Between six and 18 months is generally when your baby can benefit from this healing liquid. Keep in mind: Your baby might reject bone broth at first, and you should not force your baby to eat it. Simply try again in a few days. Don’t worry, your baby will adjust to the taste after three or five tries.
Remember, bone broth is meant to supplement, not replace, breast milk. As solid foods are introduced, the consumption of breast milk will naturally decrease.
If you notice any skin or stool changes, pause feeding your baby bone broth for a couple weeks. Consider consulting your doctor if conditions don’t improve. Typically, you’ll be able to reintroduce bone broth after two weeks.
A Bone Broth Recipe for Babies
If you would like to start introducing bone broth into your babies diet, consider the recipe listed below. It’s made in a slow cooker, so you can “set it and forget it” as it simmers on the counter — a blessing for new mothers. The amount of spices and sea salt has been kept to an absolute minimum in this recipe, which is more suitable for your baby’s stomach.
Slow Cooker Chicken Bone Broth Recipe
This is a Kettle & Fire tested and true slow cooker chicken bone broth recipe that features organic chicken bones, fresh vegetables and herbs.
- 2 pounds chicken bones leftover from roasted chicken, preferably organic
- 2 stalks celery roughly chopped
- 2 carrots skin on, roughly chopped
- 1 yellow or white onion roughly chopped
- 1 green bell pepper roughly chopped
- 1 head garlic
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
- 8-10 cups filtered water or enough to cover ingredients
Rinse vegetables and herbs and place into a slow cooker.
Add chicken bones and all remaining ingredients to slow cooker and cover with enough water so that all ingredients are submerged.
Turn on slow cooker to low heat and let cook for 12-18 hours.
Remove from heat and carefully separate the vegetables and bones from the broth.
Strain the broth into a bowl through a colander, and strain once more through a cheesecloth to remove any remaining particles.
Pour broth into an airtight jar and store in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Paleo | Gluten Free
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