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Is Eating a Paleo Diet Safe for Babies?

Photograph by Twenty20

The paleo diet is all the rage these days—chances are you have a few friends who are doing it and maybe some family members, too. Maybe you’ve even toyed with the idea of trading your Ben & Jerry’s for broccoli, but quickly came to your senses when you realized that one is definitely not a substitute for the other. But when it comes to babies and kids, lots of people are unclear about whether it's a good idea for babies to be fed vegan diets (spoiler: it's not) or gluten-free and lactose-free diets (not unless directed by a physician).

A couple in Austin, Texas, is not only living the paleo lifestyle, they’ve created a line of paleo-friendly baby food that’s causing concern among nutrition experts.

The idea for a line of paleo baby food started when Serenity Heegel and her fiancé Joe Carr couldn’t find baby food they felt was nutritious enough for their child. Since the couple already lived the paleo lifestyle themselves, they created Serenity Kids, a line of pureed baby food that offers the highest meat content on the market. The baby food brand launched earlier this month.

“I just couldn’t believe that nothing existed that would be something I would want to feed my own baby,” Heegel told Food Navigator, a website that reports on the food industry.

The line offers three kinds of flavors: uncured bacon with organic kale and butternut squash, chicken with peas and carrots, and beef with kale and sweet potato. They are also organic, grain-free, soy-free and gluten-free. The organic and free-range foods are sold in packs of six 4-ounce pouches for roughly $27.

But, this line is being questioned by nutritionists who are concerned that a "fad diet" could hurt children.

A paleo diet encourages adults to eat foods that would were available to Paleolithic humans, including free-range meats and no grains, dairy or sugar. Processed foods are a big no-no. Studies revolving around the benefits of the paleo diet have only been done on adults.

Some of the little amount of research that has been done says the diet may be healthier, but the restrictions regarding carbohydrates and emphasis on eating lots of protein could hamper a child’s development. What about other nutrients that are eliminated by this diet?

"A varied diet is essential for children as it enables them to receive a variety of nutrients to support growth physically and mentally," Rhiannon Lambert, a registered nutritionist told The Independent.

Introducing children to a paleo diet isn’t a new idea. In 2015, in Australia, book publishers wanted to release a book of recipes for parents about adapting the diet for children, but the idea sparked concern from the medical community and the book was dropped.

According to Heegel, despite the controversy surrounding Serenity Kids’ products, their sales are booming. The company is anticipating a grocery store launch soon. The company has already sold more than 1,800 pouches during their online pre-sale alone.

But if you're just trying to get your baby to eat healthy, there's a better way to introduce foods to them than adjusting a diet meant for adults.

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