A Mission of Nutrition

I’m aware that what I’m posting here might not be viewed favorably by everyone, and that’s OK.  I just ask that if you have negative comments, please keep them to yourself or write them on your own blog (I won’t approve negative comments for this post, so don’t bother writing them).  This is a very sensitive topic for me, but I chose to write about it both for future personal reference, and to provide an alternative to mothers out there who might find themselves in my shoes.  Thank you!
“The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd.”   -Bertrand Russell
I nursed Zach exclusively from the day he was born, but because he gained a lot of weight and grew well, I soon realized that breast milk wouldn’t be enough for him (he was 10 lbs. at birth and has been in the 98 percentile for size, weight, and head circumference since his first check-up).  At 2.5 months of age he weighed and measured more than most 6-month olds; he was constantly crying, nursing non-stop during the day, and waking up to nurse desperately several times a night.  Imagine a growth spurt that never stops… He and I were both exhausted!
My mother, a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, had become familiar with a doctor in Colombia who had developed a special soup for newborns that had wiped out malnutrition in several rural areas of his country, and which has been used by millions of families around the world for almost 50 years.  She had recommended the soup to several of her patients, and their babies were thriving!
I began making this soup for Zach the day he turned 3 months, giving him a few ounces and following up with my milk.  The first day, with much hesitation, I gave him two ounces in the morning, two at lunchtime, and two in the evening.  That night he slept from 8pm to 4am.  Not only did his body readily assimilate this food, but his entire personality changed.  He immediately stopped crying, became more engaged and focused, napped more consistently, and started regularly sleeping 6-8 hours in a row at night (when before he would sleep 3 hours if I was lucky!).
I was both sad and happy; sad because my baby had been HUNGRY for weeks and I had done nothing to help him, and happy because I had finally found the solution to what was ailing him.  Every few weeks, he demanded an increase in the amount of soup I was feeding him and was angry when he emptied the bottle… It was like he was telling me that this is what he needed to thrive!
Just like we tailor education to fit the needs of each child, we must tailor nutrition to satisfy each child’s requirements as well.  Expecting all 3-month olds to have the same nutritional needs is as crazy as expecting all 6-year olds to have the same cognitive abilities and interests.  
I weaned him from breast milk by the time he turned 5 months because he is lactose-intolerant, but thankfully the soup provides the nutrients, vitamins and minerals he needs to continue to grow strong.  I am approaching the weaning process considering the soup to be “breast milk” and all other foods to be “solids”; as he becomes more adept at eating with a spoon at the table I will slowly reduce the amount and frequency of the soup until he’s obtaining all his nutrition from solids, ideally sometime between 9 and 12 months of age as recommended by Dr. Montanaro.
A Mission of Nutrition
The soup was developed by a Colombian doctor, Hernan Jaramillo, who worked with malnourished children in a rural area of the country.  Before he initiated his nutrition program, malnutrition was rampant at the hospital where he worked and babies were dropping like flies.  Mothers who didn’t have enough breast milk were told by doctors to put their babies on formula, causing the parents to go into debt and making already weak children sick (because formula is full of chemicals, processed cow or soy milk, and sugars).
Dr. Jaramillo understood that although breast milk is essential, it does not measure up to the complete nutrition that the child was receiving in utero.  As any true scientist would do, Dr. Jaramillo studied the composition of breast milk and conducted HIS OWN tests on the digestive systems of newborn corpses.  His experiments led him to conclude that babies are perfectly capable of digesting and using the nutrients from whole foods when prepared in certain ways (in stark contrast to the campaigns of “only milk for the first 6 months” promoted by medical associations, who are financed by the pharmaceutical companies that make infant formula).
A few years after Dr. Jaramillo introduced the soup in the pediatrics ward of his hospital, the level of infant malnutrition in his town plummeted to – and stayed at – 0.05%, while in other comparable regions it’s anywhere between 50-100%!!!  He implemented the policy of feeding all the children in the hospital this soup as a complement to breast milk (or in the place of formula) from the day they were born, and soon the hospital pediatrics ward emptied out because the children weren’t getting sick anymore!!  He also noticed that their cognitive development had increased dramatically; even children with mental retardation were benefitting, in many cases improving enough to go to normal schools!
The beauty of this soup is that it is made with the foods that families already have in their homes.  Even the poorest family in the countryside has the ability to make it, saving THOUSANDS of dollars (a study calculated that the Jaramillo diet is 10 times more affordable than purchasing formula) and providing their child with appropriate nutrition and a dietary education that lasts a lifetime.
My mother’s Mexican housekeeper, whose 6-month old granddaughter has benefited tremendously from the Jaramillo soup, recalls that when she and her siblings were babies, their mom would breast feed them but would also give them atole (a porridge made from corn) and mashed fruits and vegetables from their small plot of land.  “We ate what we had, from the time we were babies, and we all grew up strong and healthy, with none of these allergies that kids have now,” she told me.
I decided to go back to the basics and chose to listen to my maternal instincts, the wisdom of my cultural heritage, and especially to my son.  As Montessorians, we dedicate our lives to supporting each child’s right to develop to his full potential.  This support must include the area of nutrition, for what is our body and brain but the product of what we consume?  Without appropriate nutrition, the brain and body cannot function correctly.  An incomplete nutrition is as much an obstacle to development as a crib or a walker.  Isn’t it time we did something about it?
Here is Dr. Jaramillo’s website (in English): http://dietajaramillo.org/jaramillo_en/index.htm  (Note: some of the links show up in Spanish but when you click on the link, the ensuing text is in English)
Here are the instructions for the soup: http://dietajaramillo.org/jaramillo_en/complementaria.htm
There are two Facebook groups where parents share their experiences and provide advice to others interested in making the soup.  They are both in Spanish but worth visiting if you can understand the language.  The soup gets nothing but rave reviews from parents; many admit to being hesitant at first, but all are thrilled by how happy, strong, and healthy their children have become:
On my next post I will explain how I make the soup, in case anybody finds it useful.

22 thoughts on “A Mission of Nutrition”

  1. I almost excepted to disagree, after all those warnings. I don’t (disagree). What wonderful news – that you found what Zach needed. I am happy for your family. I’ll definitely keep this in mind.

    1. Sue, how GREAT to hear from you. 🙂 Thanks for your comment… Yeah, the warnings make it seem like I’m going to say that I hang my baby by his ears… But you’d be surprised by the type of comments I received on FB after my post on Montessori weaning was shared on a popular Montessori website. Some people are very passionate about breastfeeding, and they don’t like to hear about the alternatives. Hope you’re doing well!

  2. Hi Pilar! I miss you so much! You are so wice person and Zach is so plesend to have mother like you! But hey! I would like you to write about what you were eating and taking into consideration while you were pregnant (for example what to use to wash your hear and putting “lotion” on your skin) what is more natural than “easy way” and buy just something from the super market.

    More Love and big hugs!
    You know who 😉 (person who hopes to show you positive pregnancy test to you as soon as possible as you show me while we were in Bergamo)

    1. Oooooh, how exciting!!! 🙂 OK, so eating… I was eating a LOT of protein (mostly eggs and fish), and lots of seeds (like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds). Also lots of green vegetables (kale, chard, spinach). The most important thing is to make sure your meals are balanced (carbohydrates, protein, fat) so that your blood sugar stays steady and you don’t develop diabetes. I didn’t drink coffee or alcohol, but I don’t necessarily think those are bad in moderation (like one glass of wine a week or one cup of coffee a day).

      I used regular shampoo but I only washed my hair twice a week so I didn’t worry too much about the chemicals in shampoo. For soap, I used natural olive oil soap without chemicals and instead of lotion you can use olive oil or almond oil. You can also find some good natural lotions with cocoa butter, especially in Europe!!

      Best of luck my dear friend… Sending you lots of love and hoping you’ll share your positive pregnancy test with me very soon!!! Love you!!

  3. I cannot wait to hear about how to make the soup….somehow, the links weren’t working for me…this is good info….with my second son, he was a big boy & great “drinker”….he was about 2 months when the doctor gave the okay to start solids…which was weird to me….he said don’t put it in the bottle, feed him, like you would eat….& he did it & did great…..well we are expecting our fourth son & want to be ready in case this situation happens to us again 🙂 can’t wait!

    1. Hi Ines! I fixed the links, thanks for the heads-up. I’m sooooo amazed that your ped would give the green light for solids; ours is a PITA so I just didn’t tell her. 🙂 Hope you enjoy the recipe post!

  4. Following your motherly instinct is the foremost important aspect of parenting. Your son is amazing and so are you. Parenting advise has so much to do with fads etc. Going back to the basic of following your instincts and your child is the very best you can do. Bravo Pilar. (I am glad you prefaced your post wit no negative comments will be approved).

  5. I’ve never heard of this and look forward to learning more about this and how it worked for you and your son. I’ve read about homemade formulas (like in [i]Nourishing Traditions[/i]) and I can only suspect this soup is a similar type? Anyway, looking forward to your next post (as always).

  6. I cannot believe this – I don’t think anything can be better than the babies’ mother’s milk. My sis is a pediatrician and works in a rural area, so I am aware of the malnutrition issue a bit.Even in very poorly nourished mothers, children do well till around 6 months when they are on breast milk. The problem happens mostly afterwards when there is no food for them to eat regularly or they are used to just one type of food(rice and a curry). I for one, do not believe that this problem can be solved by another cooked medicine. It is a question of feeding the mother and baby properly. Now I don’t want to make any judgement in your case – but seeing one of the video one can see that your baby has a large frame and hence his appetite for more. Once you have stopped feeding, they would slow down after engrossed with the world other than his mother’s feeding.

    1. Jayadeep, I used to feel the same way and I tried to keep him on breast milk for as long as possible but I eventually HAD to follow what my son was needing, and that’s when I made the choice. In the rural areas Dr. Jaramillo works with, a lot of babies were NOT doing well on breast milk, and the big issue is that if there’s low supply or malnourishment, doctors will put babies on formula, which makes them SICK. This soup does not cause harm, and it is a COMPLEMENTARY diet to support a breast milk diet, not to replace it. We live in an either-or world, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We should just respect different approaches that work for different children.

  7. Hi. I’ve been making the soup for the past three weeks for my daughter who is adopted. I see a definite difference in her language development. I feel so bad that I did not start this sooner, but i was only just given the recipe. Do you have any idea how many calories are in the soup? My daughter is a tall girl but weight gain does seem to be a challenge and she is not a huge eater, I give her as much soup as I can and am so happy to have something specific that I can give her with the most complete nutrition that I can find. Thank you for your posting!

    1. Hi, congratulations on your daughter! I just visited your blog, she’s lovely and seems so cheerful! 🙂 She looks to be almost a year old?

      I honestly have no idea how many calories the soup has, but you can email the doctor (he speaks English) at dietajaramillo at gmail dot com

      A great way to add calories to a baby’s diet is through seed and/or nut milks. I make sesame seed milk for Zach and he loves it! Online I found out that it has 241 calories and almost 18 grams of fat per 8 oz serving. You can find the nutritional info and recipe here: http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calories.asp?recipe=332945

      You can also try pumpkin seed milk, hazelnut milk, almond milk, cashew milk (unless your daughter has nut allergies)… They are all great sources of protein, calcium, fat, iron and healthy calories and taste great!!! Zach drinks 2-3 6-oz bottles of the milk a day, and he’s strong as an ox and taller than most 13-month olds (he’s not yet 10 months).

      I hope that helps!! Good luck and happy souping!

      1. That is a great suggestion, thank you!! I will try this and the pumpkin seed milk too. Think it will also be good to put in the sippie cup as it is a thicker liquid for her to manage.

  8. I’m so happy to have found out your post. I know the Jaramillo diet because I want to school with one of Dr. Jaramillo nieces and I met both his daughters. Everything that he says, and everything that the parents that have tried it say is true. He tried the diet with his daughters and every single member of his family that is at least 40 y/o has been raised with the diet, same with the people in the area from where he is. He really made a great discovery and gave a great gift to humanity. Unfortunately, I’m infertile, so I couldn’t use the soup myself and teach people around me. Every time I say something about his soup I get looked like a crazy person who doesn’t know anything about raising babies because I don’t have one.
    I hope you promote the diet to your friends and help the world know that there is another alternative, a better one for feeding our future; one that may give us the chance to get ahead and heal the world.

    1. Thank you for your lovely words and for your support of the diet, you brought me tears of happiness. I can understand your frustration; when I was a Montessori teacher, before having my baby, I would try to give suggestions to parents and they would dismiss me by asking “Well, do you have children?” Keep talking about the soup, it’s too important not to! Best wishes and thank you for stopping by my blog!

  9. I cant wait for your soup recipe! I never had a problem with making enough milk until my daughter turned one month and postpartum depression hit me like a freight train. I started supplementing with organic formula, its expensive and even tho organic full of things id prefer not to feed her! Ive looked into homemade formula but I cant aquire all ingredients nessecary, I am still pumping she is now 6 months and I know I’m not going to be able to full recover my supply 😦 shes had the ok to start solids, but she not fond of them. I cant wait to try the soup and not have to give her formula! Thank you thank you thank you so much for posting this!

  10. I am so happy to read your post. My 2 babies were breast fed and I complemented with the Dr Jaramillo’s soup. I am from Colombia, from the town he grew up and did most of his research. My aunt told me about him and I did as much research as I could on this. I was very nervous, nobody in my family had done it. They just knew about it.
    The research is very well explained, and it gave me the answers I needed. My babies were born in the United States, and I work with pediatricians, so I definitely know the system here, and I know what they think about Breast milk.
    I am so happy I did it this way with my girls. They are healthy, very smart, slept through the night easily, were easygoing babies, no reflux or diarrhea ever! I started feeding them soup at 1 month of age. Crazy!! I know. But I don’t regret it.
    So thank you for spreading the word. It is worth to mention that Dr jaramillo’s research on newborn’s gut was done in the United States. And he also studied all of the components of breast milk.
    Breastfeeding is still the best connection you can have with your new born, and for many months as you like. But, nutrition wise, we need to be feeding babies more nutrients for their brain before 6 months old.

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