What Do French Babies Eat?

I really don’t know what babies around the world eat, but I’m pretty familiar now with what we’re shoving in our baby’s face. As a parent, I think it’s really important to do the research and look into what we’re shoveling down the throats of our mutant offspring.
Besides following our pediatrician’s recommendations, we’ve consulted a bunch of websites. Most of them have been the usual suspects, such as the Johns Hopkins Medical Center, WebMD and for breastfeeding, we’ve also consulted sites like Le Leche League, but we’ve also read a few books, like Jonathan Safran-Foër’s Eating Animals. However, because we’re living in France and breathing in the buttery deliciousness wafting out of the boulangerie at the corner every day, we also have read a ton of French-language books on raising kids and what to feed them.
One of the differences that always seem to pop-out between U.S.-centric reading and French-reading is assumptions of the quality of the produce and meat you can find.
In general, the French seem much more concerned with the quality of the food that is being grown or raised than their American counterparts. Even at the national level, in France GMOs are highly restricted, as well as the use of many fertilizers and pesticides.
Anyhow, the other day, I had a friend ask me what our pediatrician here in Paris recommends that our baby eat. I think the idea was so that she could compare about the advice she reads about back in the U.S. with what they say here and I though it might be of interest for a few more people.
Because of how we only breastfed for the first 6 months, the following info we received from our pediatrician here in Paris is altered a bit. Usually, this would be for a baby at 6-9 months but, in our case, it’s for Zef at 7-10 months.
The feeding schedule is as follows:
Morning: Breastmilk (no fruit juice yet)
Noon: One serving (200ml) of pureed vegetables with meat or fish plus one serving (130ml) of fruits.
4pm: One yogurt or “petits suisses” with bottle and one bread crust or a cookie. One serving (130ml) of fruits is possible now or at nighttime.
Nighttime: Breastmilk and one serving of fruit (130ml) if none is given at 4pm.
Possible veggies: beets, white leeks, broccoli, carrots, zucchini (pealed, no skin), spinach, green beans, sweet potatoes, parsnip, squash (butternut, pumpkin) and tomatoes. Chard (green and white) and endives can be used sparingly as young veggies to limit the intake of fiber. Peas can be used only if they are the “extra fine” variety. Limit the intake of carrots as they can cause constipation. At the beginning, avoid vegetables that have a very strong taste or are very rich in fiber, such as artichokes, eggplant, celery, cardoons, cauliflower, fennel, onions, peppers, et cetera.
Flash-frozen vegetables are generally of superior quality to the “fresh produce” found at the supermarkets. The vegetables found in the frozen section for the soups are an excellent solution with the condition that they were raised with limited usage of pesticides and fertilizers.
The veggies should be served without any added salt, preferably one vegetable per day alternating every day. It’s of course possible to add potato to vegetables that are more liquid, such as zucchini and tomato. Like this, your baby learns the taste of each particular vegetable. If your baby refuses to eat a vegetable, try a different one that day. Don’t force her to eat what she doesn’t want to eat, but keep reintroducing vegetables even if she has refused them the first time. Like this, she might except them and come to appreciate them.
It’s recommended to serve the veggies with one teaspoon of vegetable oil (rapeseed, walnut or soy and occasionally olive oil and, eventually, sunflower, corn, grape seed or peanut-based oils). From time to time you can replace the teaspoon of vegetable oil with a small pat of non-salted butter or teaspoon of crème fraiche.
Veggies should be mixed with 10g of meat, fish or egg.
Meats: Beef, chicken or ham, avoiding charcuterie with the exception of skinned, cooked ham or 2 teaspoons of low-fat hamburger. Meats should be cooked through (not raw) and can be steamed with the veggies, grilled without oil or boiled. Meats should be served once a week.
Fish: Fish can be fresh or flash frozen, non-breaded and should be served twice a week. Once a week, white fish, such as cod, hake, whiting, sole, and the other time fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines or herring. Avoid certain fish that are at risk of high mercury content or PCBs, such as eel, barbel, bream, carp, catfish, swordfish, marlin, siki, shark or lamprey. Fish can be steamed with the veggies, grilled without oil or boiled.
Eggs: Eggs should be hardboiled (both the white and the yellow) with 10g being about 1/4 of an egg. Eggs should be served once a week.
Fruits: Fruits can be served cooked or raw, as long as they are ripe, crushed or mixed and should be served without any sugar added. Like vegetables, it is preferable to give you baby one fruit per day so she appreciates the particular flavor of each fruit. Eventually, you can put separate fruits on your baby’s plate without mixing them and give her one fruit after the other so she can compare flavors. All fruits are possible, even berries and exotic fruits, but be careful to change the fruit every day for your baby so she more easily appreciates and accepts new flavors and new tastes. Like vegetables, if your baby refuses to eat the fruit one day, offer her another, but keep reintroducing fruits even if they have been previously rejected.
At this age, it’s also possible to begin incorporating nuts (such as peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds) as long as they are very finely blended or you could introduce patisseries, such as cookies.
… and that’s it! Mostly we’ve steamed, baked or roasted things for him so far. I think he might get something grilled next week. His teeth are just now coming in (the first couple right smack dab in the middle of his kisser) and he’s chomping at the bit to get some real food in his mouth (and yes… horrible pun fully and sadly intended).
Anyhow, hope this info helps a few of you out there!

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