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The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care is about using traditional nutritional wisdom to raise your child in a healthy way. The book contrasts conventional belief systems about pregnancy and feeding children vs. giving babies and children a more traditional diet based on plenty of grass-fed animal fats and proteins.
Most readers are probably picking up this book because they are familiar with Sally Fallon Morrell's popular cookbook, Nourishing Traditions. If you are not familiar with that book, Paleo diets, or the work of the Weston Price Foundation, then be prepared to have your dietary and health belief systems turned upside down. For those familiar with the work of the Weston Price Foundation, you will find this book to be an extremely thorough explanation of using real foods, tying together many important topics about how to have a very healthy child.
Here is a careful summary of the exciting contents of the book:
The introduction takes a look at how we have gotten to where we are today in relation to conventional thinking about feeding children. Ms. Morrell points to Dr. Spock's Common Sense Book to Baby and Child Care published in 1946, which sold a staggering 50 million copies and effected a dramatic and negative change in how we feed our children. Dr. Spock promoted infant formula over raw grass-fed milk, grains over meat and fat, fruit and sugar water. This contradicts the eminent work of Dr. Weston Price. The summary of Dr. Price's epic anthropological survey of indigenous cultures is that each culture around the world has traditionally valued their respective sources of fat-soluble vitamins--which primarily come from animal fats, raw dairy and organ meats. When traditional cultures move away from the traditional diet (which includes animal fats), the health and body structure of further generations of children change. A particularly amusing part of this chapter is called "Bad Advice in Baby Books," in which Ms. Morrell criticizes other authors for promoting low fat diets. She is right in doing so, as grass-fed animal fats are the gateway to conceiving and bearing healthy babies. Of course, there is so much more in each chapter then can be mentioned here. You'll have to read the book to get all the goodies.
Chapter 1 - Preparing for Your Baby
This chapter starts out by defining what a healthy baby is. The list includes a baby with a broad face, healthy complexion, who rarely gets sick, has good digestion, doesn't have allergies, is intelligent, etc. The list goes on. Ms. Morrell immediately goes into the "formula" for creating this baby. And there is a very important dietary chart on page 15 that lists all the foods to be included in a healthy mother's diet for before conception and during pregnancy, as well as what to look out for that might make you sick. On the list of healthy foods are grass-fed animal proteins, pastured eggs, cod liver oil, bone broths, raw milk and more.
The chapter then goes into moderate to significant detail about each special food item on the list. The number one ingredient is cod liver oil. Ms. Morrell provides quite a bit of information on how important vitamin A is for fetal development. There is a discussion on the value of eggs and butter, and an important discussion on raw milk. Yes, this book recommends raw milk during pregnancy, and explains why raw milk is safe to consume, along with the dangers of pasteurized milk. There is a discussion of meat, seafood, the GAPS diet and lacto-fermented condiments, plus a neat table of conventional foods vs. replacement foods on page 28 and a warning about genetically modified foods, which are of course to be avoided by both you and your baby.
Moms might particularly enjoy page 33, which has a list of sample meals--although, knowing moms, a much longer list would have been more helpful.
The chapter ends with a brief discussion on toxic things in our surrounding environment, including EMFs, pharmaceutical drugs, and yes, prenatal vitamins.
Chapter 2 - Nutrition for Fetal Development
The first thing I noticed in the chapter was the specific reference to a birth defect called hypospadias, which happens much more frequently with vegetarian mothers than with those who eat animal proteins. It's just one more reason not to be vegetarian and pregnant at the same time, since doing so increases so many risk factors for different health problems.
After an explanation of the different trimesters of pregnancy comes a detailed look at vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, biotin, folate, choline, glycine, sulfur and saturated fat. Instead of recommending multi-vitamins, each section gives food suggestions for making sure the mother has these important nutrients in her diet during pregnancy. If you are familiar with Ms. Morrell's work, you'll know that she is a big fan of liver and egg yolks, which are common sources for many of these important nutrients.
Chapter 3 - A Healthy Pregnancy
Ms. Morrell wants moms to feel healthy and happy during pregnancy. This chapter reads almost like a nutritional program to help balance the body. There is a thorough discussion on morning sickness and how one might treat it with whole foods. Instead of prenatal vitamins, Ms. Morrell has prenatal vitamin foods, which she recommends in a list on page 59. The key foods recommended are cod liver oil, liver, egg yolk, raw dairy and butter. And who doesn't love butter? But I think she forgot to add homemade ice cream to the list. After all, ice cream made from grass-fed milk and cream is a pregnant mother's favorite vitamin! Just be mindful to avoid ice cream made from homogenized milk, as the damaged fat globules can make people sick.
This chapter then slides into a more truthful explanation of flu shots during pregnancy, Rh incompatibility, fetal screenings and the now well-documented harms of pregnancy ultrasounds. The book is co-written by Dr. Tom Cowan, and I think this is part of his contribution, as there is advice for rubella, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, toxemia and how to have a stress-free pregnancy. If you're not familiar of the work of Dr. Cowan, he offers very practical advice that is well thought out but not necessarily in the mainstream.
Chapter 4 - Your Baby Is Born
Again, another chapter chock full of very practical advice. It's almost like a helpful grandmother passing down her wisdom to those preparing for birth. Ms. Morrell supports home birth and good childbirth preparation. She also has a list of what supplies to pack when preparing for birth. I like that she recommends avoiding fetal monitors (on page 80).
There is a lot of helpful advice that can assuage the common fears and worries of parents who want to have a safe natural birth at home. Ms. Morrell has an interesting perspective on water births, and supports pro-natural delivery for breech births. Again, this chapter is full of comments that will support a mom who wants a more natural and less medically managed birth.
Chapter 5 - Newborn Interventions
It is sad that we live in a world that where this chapter is even necessary. That being said, I understand why it is in the book--parents need to be ready to deal with all kinds of strange practices done to their little helpless babies after they are born.
There is a significant discussion on cord clamping. There then follows an interesting commentary on lotus birthing and the vernix. Eye drops? How about some breast milk instead of antibiotics in a baby's eyes to prevent infection. Next, vitamin K shots and reasons not to get them, including the fact that castor oil is in the ingredient list--yuck. Ms. Morrell warns parents to be careful of Hep B vaccines if they are in a hospital, as doctors will try to sneak it on the baby. Sneaking medical treatments on babies makes me wonder what is wrong with our world today, but unfortunately these are some of the things parents need to be aware of in a hospital setting. Blood tests on the baby seem to have meaningless results and false positives--not to mention the fact that it is cruel to poke your new baby and draw his blood.
The discussion on circumcision is not what I expected. It comes across as somewhat neutral, explaining the proposed benefits along with the detriments. Ms. Morrell does, however, describe some of the ruthless circumcision practices used on babies. I am not clear if hospitals or doctors are still using these baby-torturing methods of circumcision today. I think the Creator gave males a foreskin for a reason, and believe that nobody should remove it. The male child can always decide when they are older and can think for themselves whether or not to get circumcised. Conversely, uncircumsizing is a much more difficult proposition.
Chapter 6 - Vaccinations
The vaccine chapter starts off soft--and then the hammer comes out and Ms. Morrell eloquently destroys the fake science used to promote vaccinating. She references Dr. Russell Blaylock a few times in this chapter. There is a very long list of toxic additives in vaccines, one of particular interest being mouse serum protein. The chapter is decidedly short. Clearly she doesn't intend this book to focus on vaccines, other than to give a good overview of reasons to avoid them.
Chapter 7 - Nourishing Your Baby
This chapter begins with the benefits of breast milk. There is an interesting section that disputes the idea that breastfeeding prevents dental deformities or problems. Clearly nutrition--and not just suckling--is important to the bone structure of a child. There is a nice explanation of the types of fats you find in human milk. Then a section about how it is common for breastfeeding mothers to be deficient in vitamins, particularly vitamins A and D. So again, the message is clear: What the mom eats is vitally important for the growing baby. Again, there is a warning about trans-fats--yes, they can show up in breast milk.
On pages 130 and 131 are lists of natural remedies for breastfeeding problems like sore nipples and mastitis. All of the remedies are natural. There is then a thorough discussion on breast infections, jaundice and sore nipples. There are tips for a colicky baby. Although not mentioned in the book, colic in a breastfed babies where the mom eats a clean diet is likely caused by compression of cranial nerves. The body becomes slightly over-sympathetic and the baby cannot relax completely when he or she needs too. Good cranial work will make a huge difference for this problem.
You could almost choke just looking at the scandalous list of ingredients in commercial milk formula (on page 139). Moms who, for whatever reason, need to feed their young babies something besides breast milk will really like the recipes for homemade baby formulas. There are also some tips for dealing with problems with the homemade formulas.
Chapter 8 - Bringing up Baby
This chapter is a mix of practical advice, such has how to avoid SIDS by avoiding toxic mattresses, and other parenting advice. There is a section on things to avoid for babies, such as baby monitors (which put out EMFs) and baby walkers or jumpers that could be dangerous for babies. I especially agree with the tips on germs, childproofing, clean clothing and sunlight, but disagree with comments that raise concern about attachment parenting, as well as the promotion of the "time-out technique." Some readers of the book may find some of Ms. Morrell's grandmotherly parenting advice useful, while others might feel it does not reflect their beliefs.
The end of the chapter has multiple lists and charts on what to expect at different developmental stages from your baby, based on information from the University of Michigan. Again, Ms. Morrell's whit and accurate information about physical health comes through when she blames children missing their developmental cues on a poor diet, vaccines and exposures to pesticides.
I was hoping for some Rudolph Steiner information in this chapter, but did not find anything. There is brief mention of traditional child raising practices of different indigenous cultures but this is not the focus of the chapter. If you are looking for more information on indigenous child raising traditions, see the note at the end of this review.
Chapter 9 - Nourishing a Growing Child
This is another home run chapter, and one that makes the purchase of the book worthwhile on its own merit. It speaks against commercial baby food and encourages parents to steer clear of breakfast cereals. Again, Ms. Morrell stresses the importance of fat. On page 186 is a list of super foods for babies. I like the fact that Ms. Morrell was brave enough to put brain on the menu, but I don't think many moms are going to take this suggestion.
Moms will really like the chart on page 187, which explains when to introduce certain foods for the babies. I found this list quite helpful. Egg yolks and liver are encouraged as first foods. However, Ms. Morrell forgets to mention ghee, which is a special first food from India. Again, moms will love pages 188 and 189, which have recipes for what to feed babies, including yogurt, fish pate, marrow custard and liver pate. The recipes focus on animal fat, of course.
Ms. Morrell deplores the use of fake milks, and tells moms not to worry if their baby doesn't like vegetables. This chapter is the highlight of the book, and parents will find it extremely useful and practical.
Chapter 10 - From Birth to Adulthood
This is the chapter on Rudolf Steiner, who looks at childhood symbolically. It attempts to categorize diseases as they relate to the developmental stages of the child, along with their symbolic meanings. It hopefully gives the parent some idea of how the child perceives the world while growing up. It also suggests that certain illnesses might be necessary for the healthy development of the child.
Chapter 11 - Child Spacing & Birth Control
This is a very short chapter that gives some examples of indigenous cultures' thinking and principals of child spacing. Three years as a minimum for child spacing seems to be the theme. This chapter could be longer. There are only short sections on the harms of the IUD and birth control pills, and a recommendation and encouragement to use fertility awareness to help space children.
Chapter 12 - The Illnesses of Childhood
The chapter starts out with a subtle warning, stating the therapies presented in the book go against the mainstream perspective, which seeks to treat the symptoms of disease with drugs. When a chapter starts out that way, you know it is going to be exciting. Ms. Morrell takes the alternative perspective that illness might be useful, and that bacteria are not the cause of disease. There is a lengthy discussion on the three spheres of the human being, which is based on Rudolf Steiner's philosophies. This chapter doesn't feel complete on its own because it lacks the practical advise you would expect, but it is really meant as a segue into the next chapters, which are full of practical advice.
Chapter 13 - Treating Infectious Disease
Ms. Morrell and Dr. Cowan suggest looking at disease as a stage of life. I feel like this is a positive perspective to take. If we strive to fight disease, we might inhibit the child's normal growth and development process. The chapter includes a discussion on some homeopathic remedies, Echinacea and elderberry syrup.
Chapter 14 - Ear, Nose & Throat
Again, we are presented with what appears to be Dr. Cowan's alternative medical perspective on illness. Alternative remedies are suggested for pneumonia, ear infections, tonsillitis, sinusitis and whooping cough. Moms looking to treat their children's illnesses more holistically will appreciate the information presented here.
Chapter 15 - Allergies, Asthma & Eczema
This chapter suggests that a key cause of these problems is disturbed intestinal flora, which means that the child's intestines do not have the coating required to protect themselves from irritants. A remedy suggested for these problems is the GAPS diet. Page 247 has some specific remedies for eczema and asthma.
Chapter 16 - Neurological Disorders
This chapter is mostly about autism. It suggests movement therapy and the GAPS diet for autistic children. It's mostly focused on general advice about dealing with this condition. It does not delve deeply into the subject matter. Of particular note is the fact that cranial work (or bite therapy) is not mentioned. This treatment can significantly help with movement related disorders. Also missing from the chapter are references to juicing and cleansing, and the suggested reading list is limited. This chapter will be useful for parents whose children have mild cases of neurological disorders, as it should set them on the path towards finding balance again.
Chapter 17 - Remedies for Illnesses of Childhood
Again, the foundation of a healthy child is a good diet. When that fails, the book offers natural, drug-free solutions for these problems. This chapter covers itching, anemia, boils, bug bites, chicken pox, colic, concussion, croup, diaper rash, diarrhea, growing pains, foot and mouth disease, hives, measles, meningitis, mumps, muscle cramps, pickiness, poison oak, rheumatic fever, rubella, scarlet fever, tooth decay, scrapes, slapped cheek syndrome, strep throat, sunburn, thrush, food poisoning and whooping cough. I found the advice helpful and to the point.
Appendix I - Therapy Instruction
Contains a short guide on using herbal compresses.
Appendix II - The GAPS Diet Protocol
There is a well-done 8-page summary of the GAPS diet, and the different stages involved.
Appendix III - Recipes
Again, recipes and dietary advice is where this book really shines. Moms will really enjoy this section, which is seventeen pages long. Most or all of these recipes seem to be from Nourishing Traditions.
Appendix IV - Resources
The resources listed are websites on which to buy items mentioned in the book.
Strangely, the book does not have a conclusion. However, this fact does not take away from its message. The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care is stuffed full of practical advice for raising your baby on a whole foods diet. It smashes mainstream advice about pregnancy and baby nutrition, and replaces the misinformation of the last 50 years with more accurate and healthy information based on millennia of indigenous traditions. The book is full of references to scientific studies and anecdotes that support a holistic and drug-free approach to child care. Like almost every book, it has some imperfections, some slow parts and some parts that you may not relate to or feel necessary. But overall, reading the book will leave with you a feeling of being more connected to the nourishment of your baby--which is, after all, its purpose. I highly recommend this book as a guide for nourishing yourself and your baby with good food, and keeping you both safe from toxic medical practices. Well done, Sally Fallon Morrell and Dr. Thomas Cowan.
About the Review
This review is written by Ramiel Nagel, author of Healing Our Children: Because Your New Baby Matters! Sacred Wisdom for Preconception, Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting (ages 0-6), which provides a clear, paradigm shifting holistic resource for loving yourself and your child's body, emotions and soul, based on the wisdom of indigenous cultures throughout the world.