Better Baby Book? — Better Think Again

By Jennifer Yoon RDN/LDN, Pediatric Alliance — St. Clair


I’m sitting down with a parent for an impromptu consult about starting solid foods. The mother has a medical background and has done extensive reading on diet so she may proceed with the ideal balance and latest information on food and nutrition for her child as they journey into solid foods. Her first question is whether raw or undercooked eggs are okay for her baby. And what about raw or undercooked meat? How much butter or MCT oil should she add to her baby’s food?

She was reading The Better Baby Book by Lana Asprey, M.D. It did not take exact knowledge of this book to be suspicious. But the book and diet are based on years of research, so this must be sound advice, right? WRONG!

First, to address the diet itself: This diet claims that by following this advice, you will have a healthier, smarter, happier baby. That sounds awesome! In order to have this smart, healthy, happy baby, you will feed the baby 50% of his calories from fat, 20% as protein, and the rest from a limited variety of fruits and vegetables. Meat and eggs should grass-fed or pastured and be raw or lightly cooked. Milk is organic, from pastured animals only, and unpasteurized. Cheese is forbidden. Organic wheat, quinoa, corn, and oats are allowed, but no yeast (therefore no bread). A variety of spices and flavorings are off limits. There is no sugar or artificial sugar substitutes.

Aspects of the diet that may have some validity include the use of organic products and free range, grass-fed animal products. If these products are accessible to you and fit into your family budget, there is some evidence that the products are richer in some nutrients and beneficial fats. There is no evidence, however, to suggest the standard product is insufficient in nutrients.

The disturbing and possibly harmful claims of this diet include the use of uncooked, undercooked, and unpasteurized products. Guidelines for cooking chicken and ground meats state an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and are no longer pink inside to kill bacteria and pathogens. Steak should reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Fish should be cooked 10 minutes at 425-450 degrees for each inch of thickness.

Imagine the consequences for a baby exposed to foodborne pathogens. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives us an idea:

CDC estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.


The nutrient content of the diet is also inappropriate for a developing brain. 45-65% of calories from carbohydrates such as grains, and collectively from fruits, milk, and vegetables meet the needs for a growing body and developing brain. The brain operates on carbohydrates as its primary fuel. Limitations on carbohydrates to less than 30% of calories would result in inadequate intake of important nutrients such as fiber and many vitamins and minerals.

As for the studies cited, a few valid studies support the health claims of using grass-fed meats. The remainder of studies cite the limitations of other diets such as vegan and low fat diets, but say nothing about the safety or efficacy of the health claims of this “Asprey/Better Baby Diet”. Some references date back as far as 1938, with many studies from the 70s and 80s.

The bottom line is children do not belong on diets. Restrictive eating is inappropriate for children, and in this case harmful and perhaps deadly. The other important message here is to use caution and research advice taken from the internet or books. What are the author’s credentials? What are the resources cited? Do the recommendations make sense?

And always follow the advice of the disclaimer at the bottom of the page: “The information provided by the website or this company is not a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with your physician…”.


*** Jennifer Yoon sees patients at the Pediatric Alliance — St. Clair office. For an appointment, please call (412) 221-2121. Read more from Jennifer on The PediaBlog here.