Primarily Paleo

A path to wellbeing

Grains and the Paleo Toddler


My Paleo Toddler has never eaten any grains. That means no rice cereal, bread, pizza, oatmeal or even macaroni and cheese. One of the main reasons behind the strictness of this choice, is that the digestive tract is not fully developed until at least 36 months of age. When foods that are harder to digest are eaten it can cause damage to the already delicate intestines. Gluten is one of the largest proteins we have to digest and this increases the likelihood of it poking big holes in the gut lining.

There will come a time in her life when my Paleo Toddler either chooses to eat grain or eats it accidentally. In order to give her immune system a chance to recognize grains in an environment I can control, I am going to slowly offer her one bite (literally as few as three pieces) of higher quality, properly prepared, minimally processed grains over the next few months. This is a decision I have struggled with, as I am committed to raising her as Paleo as I can. Ultimately, I feel it is in the best long term interest of her health to introduce grains in this way.

What do I consider higher quality, properly prepared, minimally processed grains? In my book, higher quality grains are those that are the least hybridized, like a wild rice and minimally processed, like whole oat groats (those are what oatmeal is made from). Properly prepared grains have been either soaked and/or sprouted prior to being eaten. Soaking and sprouting help improve the digestibility of grains, as well as nuts and seeds, therefore making them friendlier to the gut lining. I am going to introduce the grass grains like rice before the gluten containing grains like wheat.

I am hoping this exposure helps prepare her for any grain containing foods she happens across as she begins preschool this year. As I mentioned in a previous post, we have control over what our kids are offered in the home, but as soon as they are out in the world the non Paleo food choices are abundant. For those of you with Paleo Kids who have never eaten any grains before, I’d love to hear from you.


  1. I love your posts about your Paleo toddler! It’s really enlightening. As a future mother one day, I think about the choices I will make to provide nutrition to my child. I want to teach my children to enjoy real foods because they see me enjoying real foods. Processed foods, grains and sugar is a reality out there, so it’s great to understand how you think about nutrition for your daughter. Thanks Stephanie!

  2. This is a good argument, but what do you do with a kid who already is 8, has that intestinal damage and autism and autoimmune disease, and has allergies to casein, gluten, soy, peanuts, almonds (no almonds flour- a paleo staple!), and shellfish. He also does not eat vegetables no matter how hard we try. We have to make fruit and veggies smoothies and that’s it, and often nag him to drink them, even though we use stevia and they taste good. I can only do what I can, like limiting sugar in his diet and feeding a whole foods diet, but I cannot further limit his already limited food choices. He is already underweight as it is. We did not know about the dangers of grains or this paleo stuff until about a year ago. Now it’s too late. Be careful what you push on people- paleo is great but not doable for everyone. If you have a non veggie eater, you run the risk of multiple nutritional deficiencies.

    • Dear RM, Thank you for your comment. I have a lot of empathy for your situation. I don’t think it is ever too late to heal the intestines, although it is challenging to help our kids when they aren’t open to trying new things or struggle with foods in general. As parents, we can only do our best with the knowledge we have at the time. There is a great book you may be interested in called the Gut and Psychology Syndrome. It has helped a lot of parents in the same position as you are in. The purpose of my blog, Primarily Paleo, is not to push anything on anyone. My goal is to share my experience living a Paleo lifestyle, facing challenges like everyone else, and hopefully providing some inspiration that we can improve our health through food. I wish your family the best and thank you again for reading the blog. Stephanie

  3. I don’t know what it is but the type 1 diabets and autism crowd but somehow it becomes the fault of folks like steph for providing HOPE. I suspect what happens is some kind of guilt ridden paralysis…I can understand that but I can’t condone it as it does no one any favors. What i insist upon RM, is folks like you TRY what is recommended for 30-60 days and then report what you did , what the results were. helpful or not. then we learn and grow and progress.

    Thee is always hope, unless our own fears block us from taking the help being offered:

  4. Pingback: Primarily Paleo: Favorite Grain-Free Pancake Recipe | Primarily Paleo

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