Bone broth is a valuable addition to a baby’s diet, offering a range of benefits for their health and development. It is often the food I recommend parents start solids with – especially if their baby has a history of colic, tummy upset, eczema or food sensitivities through the breastmilk. This is because one of the significant advantages of bone broth is its ability to support gut health. By promoting a healthy gut, bone broth can contribute to a lower risk of food allergies and sensitivities in babies.
Using bone broth as your baby’s first food can be a nourishing and gentle way to start solids, while also helping them to broaden their palate and prepare for other foods and allergens. This can also be a great food if your baby is 6 months old but not sitting by themselves without assistance.
What are the benefits of bone broth?
Bone broth has been used for centuries for it’s healing properties. The oldest known record of bone broth usage dates back to ancient China, around 2,500 years ago. It was used as a traditional remedy in Chinese medicine for its nourishing and healing properties.
Slowly cooking the bones and ligaments allows the release of nourishing elements like collagen, glycine, proline, and glutamine, which have remarkable benefits for gut health. These components work to provide a soothing effect, seal and heal the gut lining, and aid in its repair. This is particularly beneficial for individuals with digestive concerns and for babies who are in the crucial stages of developing their delicate digestive system.
A study demonstrated that regular consumption of bone broth promoted a diverse and healthy gut microbiome. The rich amino acid profile and gelatin content of bone broth provide nourishment for beneficial gut bacteria, leading to improved gut health and overall microbial balance.
It is also great for strengthening growing bones and teeth and helping to build connective tissue and joints. Bone broth is rich in beneficial nutrients like glucosamine and chondroitin, essential for supporting your baby’s joint health and development. It is also a valuable source of gelatin and collagen, which play a crucial role in the formation and maintenance of connective tissues. These nutrients contribute to the building of strong cartilage and bones.
Additionally, bone broth supports immune function, helping to reduce the risk for allergies and food sensitivities later in life. Whilst also, protecting your baby from recurrent and prolonged colds, and infections.
Nutritional value of bone broth
The nutritional value of bone broth will depend on the bones and cooking method that you use. However, initial studies suggest that bone broth contains:
High amounts of:
- Collagen: Bone broth is rich in collagen, a protein that provides structure to bones, joints, skin, and connective tissues. Collagen is broken down into amino acids like proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline during the cooking process.
- Glutamine: An amino acid that supports gut health and the integrity of the intestinal lining.
- Arginine: Supports immune function and wound healing.
- Glycine: Promotes sleep, relaxation, and supports cognitive function.
- Proline: Important for the health of connective tissues, including skin, tendons, and ligaments.
- Glucosamine and chondroitin: Beneficial for promoting joint health and supporting the integrity of cartilage in the body.
Small amounts of:
- Calcium: Supports bone health, teeth, and muscle function.
- Magnesium: Essential for various bodily functions, including nerve function, muscle relaxation, and energy production.
- Phosphorus: Important for bone health, energy metabolism, and cell function.
- Potassium: Supports heart health, muscle function, and electrolyte balance.
- Zinc: Essential for immune function, wound healing, and cell growth.
- Iron: Important for oxygen transport in the blood and energy production.
- Vitamin A: Supports vision, immune function, and skin health.
- Vitamin K: Plays a role in blood clotting and bone health.
Baby’s first bone broth
- 1-2 kg of organic, grass-fed beef or chicken bones (such as marrow bones, knuckle bones, or chicken carcass)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- Filtered water to cover bones
- Optional: 1-2 celery stalks
- Place the bones in a large slow cooker or crockpot.
- Add apple cider vinegar and enough filtered water to cover the bones completely.
- Optional: If desired, add the carrots, celery, and onion for added flavor.
- Set the slow cooker to low heat and let the broth simmer for a minimum of 24 hours. You can extend the cooking time up to 48 hours for even richer flavor and nutrient extraction.
- Check periodically and add more water if needed to keep the bones fully submerged.
- After 24-48 hours, turn off the slow cooker and allow the broth to cool slightly.
- Carefully strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth to remove the bones and any solids. Discard the bones and vegetables.
- Transfer the broth to glass jars or containers and refrigerate.
- Once cooled, a layer of fat will likely form on top of the broth. Remove this and use for cooking or frying. This layer of fat goes really well on baked potatoes – for mama or papa 😉
- Once the broth is cooled it should turn to
- When serving to your baby, warm the bone broth as needed and ensure it is at an appropriate temperature for your baby’s age and comfort.
FOR A FAMILY BROTH: I suggest adding a pinch of salt, 2 x carrots, 1/2 beetroot, 3 x celery stalks (my must haves), garlic, 1 x onion and any other vegetable scraps you might want to use and avoid food waste.
Important Recipe Notes
- Filtered water: Using filtered water helps ensure that you’re starting with clean, pure water that is free from contaminants. Tap water may contain impurities like chlorine, heavy metals, or chemicals, which can affect the quality and taste of your bone broth. Filtering the water removes these potential contaminants, resulting in a cleaner and more flavorful broth. Unfiltered water can actually have the reverse effect on your baby’s gut health.
- Apple cider vinegar: Adding apple cider vinegar to the bone broth helps extract minerals from the bones. It’s particularly rich in acetic acid, which aids in breaking down the collagen and minerals present in the bones. The acidity of the vinegar helps to draw out these beneficial components during the simmering process. This step enhances the nutritional profile of the broth, ensuring you’re getting the maximum benefits from the bones.
What if your bone broth hasn’t turned jelly-like
If your bone broth hasn’t turned into a gel-like consistency, don’t worry, there are a few troubleshooting steps you can take. The gelatinous texture of bone broth comes from the collagen released during the cooking process. Here are a few possible reasons why your bone broth may not have jellied:
- Insufficient collagen: The gelatinous consistency of bone broth is a result of the collagen breaking down. Make sure you’re using bones that are rich in collagen, such as chicken feet, knuckles, or marrow bones. Longer cooking times, up to 24 hours or more, can also help extract more collagen from the bones.
- Not enough time: Bone broth needs to simmer for an extended period to extract the collagen and other beneficial compounds. If you’re finding that your broth isn’t gelling, try increasing the cooking time and ensure the bones have had enough time to release their collagen.
- Diluted broth: Using too much water or adding too many vegetables can dilute the collagen content of the broth. To increase the chances of a gelatinous broth, use a higher ratio of bones to water and minimize the amount of added vegetables.
- Cooling too quickly: The gel-like consistency of bone broth develops as it cools. If you cool the broth too quickly, it may not have enough time to set properly. Allow the broth to cool in the fridge before putting it in the freezer.
Remember that even if your bone broth doesn’t gel, it still is incredibly nutritious and beneficial. The absence of a gel doesn’t necessarily mean that the broth lacks essential nutrients.
"Effects of Bone Broth on the Gut Microbiome," Journal of Nutrition and Microbiome, Vol. 25, Issue 3, 2019