Is Your Child’s Brain Starving?

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This post is long overdue.

A story I’ve been wanting to share, but just haven’t had the courage to sit down and write.

A story about my son, Piper, a speech disorder, a starving brain, and how real food and a key nutrient played a key role in his rehabilitation.

This is Piper’s story…

In 2009 I found out I was pregnant. The thought of carrying life inside my belly for nine months seemed to be a daunting task.  I, like most mothers, wanted to provide my child with the very best start in life. One area of life that wasn’t ideal was food. I ate a Standard American Diet (SAD) of heavily processed foods, low-fat everything and lots of take-out. After spending many nights watching documentaries (like Food Inc.) and reading countless Micheal Pollan books, I was convinced a dietary change had to be made. I cut all the processed food from our life. I also went a step further, a huge step, I eliminated all animal products from my diet. The only animal product I consumed was honey.

I’m talking strict!

My pregnant body, now very close to delivering a new baby, was being nourished solely off plant-based foods and juicing.

March 5, 2010 was the big day. A day I remember very well. Thirty-six hours of natural labor and one eight and half pound baby later, I was a mom!


That first year was a blur. Sleepless nights, new learning curves, hours of baby snuggles, lots of nursing, lots of ear infections, and the sweet scent of a baby.

I had continued with my vegan lifestyle during Piper’s first year. I was proud to have a child who would never be tainted by animal products. A child that would only live off fruits, vegetables, and grains.

Shortly after Piper turned one, I started to observe that his little friends were flourishing verbally. Slowly his friends switched over from baby-talk to understandable words. Piper continued to say that same /mmmm/ and /bbbbb/ sounds. No words, just sounds.  Not wanting to compare, I assured myself he was a late bloomer. Words would come soon enough.

When Piper turned two I weaned him from nursing. He seemed to be the ideal eater, a plant-based child. Despite his healthy and growing body, I became concerned about his speech. He continued to only use two sounds to communicate. His vocabulary consisted of around three real words, but even those were hard to decipher. “He’s a late bloomer!” I listened to the other moms share all the cute new phrases and words their children were developing daily.

My heart sank.

He’s gotta be a late bloomer.

I waited.

I finally voiced my concern to Piper’s pediatrician.  A very gentle doctor open to alternative people like our family. I expressed my concerns over his limited vocabulary of now five words. I was desperate and discouraged. I wanted so badly to communicate with my son. I wanted to hear him say his name and “I love you.”  Anything! Just words. It seemed as though he was trapped. Longing to communicate, but unable to do so. The doctor checked his records and noticed a trend: ear infections.

Several months later, we sat in the waiting room of an ENT who advised ear tubes. We were told Piper’s ears were blocked with fluid and the tubes were our answer to communicating with our son. Within weeks we were to expect talking.


That’s what I experienced at that moment!

Lots of Hope.

We went through the surgery a week later.  I couldn’t wait to hear my son talk! I waited a couple of weeks. Nothing. Another week. Still nothing.

It was at this time that Piper was evaluated by a speech pathologist. The speech pathologist said she believed Piper had something called Apraxia.

Apraxia of speech, also known as verbal apraxia or dyspraxia, is a speech disorder in which a person has trouble saying what he or she wants to say correctly and consistently. The disorder may result from a stroke, head injury, tumor, or other illness affecting the brain. Source

I left with a heavy heart.  The prognosis wasn’t good. The speech pathologist recommended speech therapy with as many sessions in a week as possible. We were told the journey of apraxia was long and one that would take many years of therapy to see positive results.

A month after the diagnosis, we found a fantastic speech teacher who was willing to work with Piper in her home a few times a week. A friend also recommended seeking a nutritional counselor as an alternative treatment.

After intense meat cravings during my second pregnancy, I had recently started incorporating pastured meat into our family’s diet; however, we still followed for the most part a plant-based diet. I personally laughed at the idea of my child needing a nutritional counselor. The idea that my child needed counseling on how to eat seemed absurd. I didn’t want to appear proud, so I agreed to get the opinions of the counselor.

During the first meeting, the counselor immediately questioned the fat intake in Piper’s diet. Piper being raised a vegan for the first two years of his life, didn’t care for any animal products and lived off bread and produce. The counselor wasn’t very pleased with that diet.


What could be missing?

We were told to put Piper on fish oil (omega 3’s), doses of vitamin D, and increase his fat content. Apraxia is believed to stem from a neurological disconnect between the brain and the mouth, and the counselor seemed convinced that the omega 3’s and fat were critical links. 

I was intrigued.

Over the next few weeks, I bought every book I could find on children and food. Was I depriving my son of critical nourishment which he needed? A missing link?

After scouring the pages of books, particularly Nourishing Traditions, I was convinced Piper needed a diet that nourished his brain.

His brain was starving.

Starving for fat!

In an effort to eat healthier, I had removed nearly all sources of fat, particularly animal fat, from our diets. During the most critical time of brain development I had starved Piper’s brain of a critical nutrient.

Recently it has been discovered that the Omega-3 fats are necessary for the complete development of the human brain during pregnancy and the first two years of life. The Omega-3 fat and its derivative, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), is so essential to a child’s development that if a mother and infant are deficient in it, the child’s nervous system and immune system may never fully develop, and it can cause a lifetime of unexplained emotional, learning, and immune system disorders. Source

The human brain is considered to be the most sensitive organ in the body to food, and is made up of near sixty percent fat.  During the first two years of a child’s life the brain triples in volume requiring nourishing foods with lots of good fat.  Nearly fifty percent of the food children consume is used for brain growth and fat is critical in this development. Without good fat, the neurotransmitters in the brain can’t properly transmit and a disconnect can easily occur affecting the entire body (emotional, behavioral, learning and language).  Good fat is critical in pregnancy and for growing children.

I believe this was a critical piece to Piper’s speech delay. Piper simply needed a diet of real food and essential fat which would nourish his brain.


After nine months of a diet rich in good, traditional fats and real food, Piper today talks and communicates like a mature three-and-a- half year-old. Sure, he says words here and there that are difficult to understand because he leaves off the end sound or has difficulty with the beginning, but he talks (all the time)! He communicates with words people understand. His vocabulary has blossomed from a mere three words and two basic sounds to hundreds upon hundreds of words!

Apraxia and fat

The biggest change that I believe helped Piper was… fat! A diet rich in good fat for a growing brain. We began to see remarkable changes in Piper within just a couple of months of consuming good fat and real food.

Here are the foods that I believe played a critical role in nourishing Piper’s brain:

  • Raw, Pastured Whole Milk, Butter, Cream, and Cheese: Rich in fat-soluble vitamins A and D and other crucial nutrients. You can read more about why we consume raw milk, here.
  • Fermented Cod Liver Oil: Rich in Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docasahexaenoic Acid (DHA). FCLO supplies essential fatty-acids for the brain. I use Carlson brand.
  • Soaking and Sprouting Grains: This traditional practice breaks down the phytic acid and anti-nutrients allowing the body to more easily digest protein, fats, and essential amino acids from grains.
  • Fermented Foods: Yogurt (homemade recipe; Good Store-Bought Brands: StonyField Grass-Fed, Maple Hill Creamery, Organic Valley Grass Milk Yogurt, and Seven Stars), milk kefir (homemade recipe; Good Store-Bought Brand: Maple Hill Creamery) , water kefir, and kombucha, provide the body with good bacteria. This good bacteria produces essential vitamins the body needs, such as: Vitamin A, B vitamins, and essential fatty-acids.
  • Homemade Bone Broth: Provide essential vitamins, minerals, and essential amino-acids. Bone broths are rich in protein and healing properties. I make this broth and use it to cook Piper’s favorite rice and any sauces.
  • Pastured Meats: Rich in iron, zinc, calcium, and vitamins A, E, and B12. Pastured meat is a healthy source of good fats.
  • Egg Yolks from Pastured Eggs: Rich in omega-3 and protein. Most digestible amino-acids available to the body.

I truly believe with these small changes we have been blessed to witness the power of a healthy diet in a child’s life. I believe Hippocrates said it best, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”.

 2015 Update:

I’m overwhelmed by the amazing response to Piper’s story. Thank you for commenting and sharing your stories with me over the past eighteen months. It’s truly been a blessing to read emails and comments about the difference real food is making in so many children.

Today, Piper is an energetic five year-old boy who loves to talk and share stories!! He loves playing soccer and Legos. He still consumes a nutrient-rich diet. Piper’s favorite foods are: steak, hard-boiled eggs, lentils, chicken, broccoli, and the Hulkbuster Smoothie.



Sources: The NDD Book, William Sears//
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    1. says: Naomi Hamlin

      Hi Kristin
      It was so moving to read your personal journey with your son. How hard it must of been to go through your ordeal but I commend you for sharing your story because I know it will help many parents to be aware of how important it is to eat the food that is going to enable our children to grow healthy. I have learnt so much with what you have shared and will share this knowledge to my family. Once again thank you Kristin!

    2. says: Kathryn McLachlan

      Dear Kristin,
      This is your Aunt Kathy writing, I am sorry to hear about your heart ache and worries regarding Piper’s speech development. I had no idea about the magnitude of your concern or the journey you all experienced. As a practicing speech/language pathologist, I feel compelled to share this reliable source from the Childhood Apraxia of Speech of North America – CASANA with both you and your audience (see link below). Although your current service provider (speech pathologist) has probably already told you this, should not blame yourself or your choice for a vegan diet on Piper’s Dx. Most individuals with apraxic and/or apraxic like characteristics are either idiopathic by nature (an unknown cause), or exists secondarily to more complex medical conditions.

        1. says: Basil

          Well, from what I understand from listening to a lecture by a psychiatrist Omega 3 oils from fish is far superior to the vegetarian kinds from say flax and chia, so it might be difficult to get the nourishing fats. Our brain is mostly made out of fat. That’s why we’re fat heads, I suppose. If one’s vegan, one would also miss out on beneficial things like ghee, which is clarified butter. Some might benefit from genuine buttermilk. I am taking a lot of omega 3’s, and that seems to be helping me. There are some studies that say it’s important for mothers to consume enough omega 3 while they’re pregnant, but there was no way for you to know that. So many people were telling us that we should consume low fat diets, which is ridiculous. We just need the right fats.

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story! Such amazing insight into our perspectives and attempts at doing everything right for our children *and* our ability to have an open mind and try new things when our original ideas aren’t working as well as we’d hoped! I am so glad to hear of Piper’s progress! Kudos to you, Momma, for stepping up, being open and doing your best all the time!

  2. says: Susan

    Oh Kristen, my heart breaks for you having to go through this but also rejoices that you have a happy outcome! Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing such a personal side of your family with us. Your journey, experience and knowledge will certainly help someone else. I pray for the mom who is struggling just like you we’re, that your words will change the course of their family journey. Lots of really great information here to dig in deeper with. I had never heard of apraxia, but certainly something I should be familiar with. Again, thank you for your ability to share openly…it will make a difference to many.

  3. I cut out most animal products shortly after my son was born. I too was convinced that animal fats were toxic, but after further research realized they were essential. We’re still trying to get him to eat meat (he’s not used to the texture), but Piper’s is a story many people need to hear. Thank you for your insight!

    1. says: Kristin

      Thank you for sharing and your encouraging words. I think cutting animal fats is very popular right now thanks to a few popular documentaries and books, yet these are so critical to developing babies, nursing moms, and pregnant women (and everyone I believe). Piper still doesn’t like the texture of meat, so I usually blend it in his spaghetti sauce or cook something like rice in broth and mash up the meat. I tell him what he is eating, but he doesn’t care for just the plain texture of meat yet.

  4. Thank you so much for this!! Our 2 yr old was recently diagnosed with Apraxia, we’ve had him in speech therapy since 15 months so we caught it somewhat “early” and his vocabulary has improved significantly. But I’m still looking forward to the day where he is able to carry on a “real” conversation, tell me he loves me, and fully express what he wants to express. It can be a lonely struggle, and what some moms would see as “normal development”, we see as major accomplishments! (My son has just recently learned his alphabet, knows when to say “yes” when he means yes, and is following some simple requests without major meltdowns….this is HUGE in our little apraxia world! 🙂 ) Thank you for sharing your heart, and while our therapist has never mentioned nutrition connections (other than the simple “is he eating normal meals?”, this gives me more to look into. We rarely eat red meat or fish, which tend to be the fattier meats. Looks like we might need to remedy this 🙂

    1. says: Kristin

      I am so thankful to hear others can be blessed by Piper’s testimony. I completely understand the lonely world apraxia can be and how the little accomplishments in others eyes are huge milestones! Thank you for sharing. I believe there are so many moms out there in our shoes. Diet was never discussed by any of our Docs or therapists either. I just don’t think they understand the connection. Blessings to you and your family.

    2. says: Dana

      Hi Bethany, just wanted to encourage you to keep up the good work! Our son has Apraxia as well and your son’s recent accomplishments remind me so much of ours. While every kiddo is different, we have been in speech for one year and have seen great improvements, he just turned 3 and can use his words appropriately and meltdowns have decreased dramatically. Just wanted to give you some encouragement and tell you to keep it up!

  5. says: Jim Seko

    Thank you for your story, When you were on a strict vegan diet you believed you were doing the right thing, of course. Every vegan believes what they’re doing is right and that’s why I hesitate to engage people in conversations about nutrition. Talking about nutrition with vegans is almost like talking about religion or politics with extremists. I’m really glad you shared your story so more people can learn this vitally important information.

  6. says: Dana

    I completely agree! Our son has also been diagnosed with Apraxia, and while he also suffers from a disease that makes it difficult to absorb fat, we saw a huge improvement in his speech (HUGE!) when we added fish oil. Thanks for writing this article, going to recommend it to others!

  7. says: Purewishing

    Kudos to you good mama for figuring out what your son needed. Every body is different and there are still plenty of vegan children who brains are thriving. My own oldest son was an early reader, talker, and walker on a vegetarian diet, while my youngest was a late reader, walker and talker on a pastured meat, egg and raw dairy diet (which also helped him get rid of his asthma). I work with kids and find there is no perfect diet for everyone, but different things work for different people and body types. Moms are best at noticing what works best with their own children, but they need resources to draw on. I will be passing on your info to moms, along with info about good vegan, vegetarian, WAPF, GAPS diets and more. My own personal food philosophy is unprocessed, traditional, local, and low eco impact. Thanks for writing this blog and sharing your story.

    1. says: Kristin

      Thank you. I agree there are many great ways to eat real food and each body is so different. I also truly believe a strictly plant-based diet is not a good choice for children after doing a ton of research. It’s interesting to me that when food is looked at in a traditional frame of mind, there are very few if any vegan societies in history. All consumed some sort of animal products, although what they consumed vary, but all the healthy societies consumed animal fats.

  8. says: carolley

    Your blog is so inspiring an full of information! I’m so glad I found it! I have been a reader for a few months but haven’t yet left any comments. I am so sorry you had to go through such a difficult diagnosis for Piper! How amazing that after only 9 months of real full fat food along with speech therapy that you have seen such a difference! I’m a speech pathologist and I have never considered the link between apraxia and nutrition. I am fascinated! I’m not currently working as I’m taking time to stay home with my 3 little blessings but I will not forget your story. The next time I work with a child with apraxia I will definitely make sure their parents are aware of the possibility of a nutritional component involved. I am so glad Piper has made such great gains! Given how much he has improved in such a short time i am sure that the brain food has made a difference! Blessings,

    1. says: Kristin

      Thank you so much. We are thankful for the tremendous progress he has made! The nutrition side was never discussed other than by the nutritional counselor and until I started to investigate. I am truly thankful we were led to look into the nutritional aspect.

  9. says: Emily

    Wow! I’m glad your family figured out what was missing from your diet, and more importantly, that little Piper has fully recovered.

    My family was vegan for the first year and a half of my firstborn’s life. He did not experience any learning or physical growth delays, but then our vegan diet did feature a lot of fat (avocado, nut butters, etc.), protein, sprouted grains, probiotics, fermented soy, and omega-3s derived from algae (fish, after all, get their omega-3 from algae and krill). And it helped that my son is not a picky eater!

    However, we started eating animal products again as we found it increasingly difficult to get enough micronutrients like molybdenum and iron. Try as I might, I just couldn’t shake off iron-deficiency anemia with non-heme iron. We were healthy on a vegan diet, but we are healthier still on our new diet. I wonder, though, how we would be faring now if we’d stuck to the vegan diet…

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  10. says: Michelle

    This story hits so close to home. I had experienced a vegan pregnancy and my labor went 70 hours. My daughter was very floppy and very thin – 22 inches long and 5 lb, 13 oz in weight. She has experienced significant attention and auditory processing issues since preschool. She still could not read, write or spell effectively until a year and a half ago when we started to include butter, raw dairy and pastured eggs. It was like a miracle. Now almost 12, she is much closer to grade level than in the past. Essential fats do make a difference.

    1. says: Kristin

      Wow, Michelle! Thank you so much for sharing! I hope by sharing our stories we are able to make a difference in other lives particularly women during pregnancy and with growing children who may be considering a restrictive diet.

  11. says: Taylor Beth

    Wow, what a great story with a wonderful ending! I plan on someday raising my children to eat a whole foods, plant rich diet and it is so helpful to hear your story. This must have been so difficult to write and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing it with us! So glad to hear little Piper is thriving and talking with you now!

  12. says: Allison Jordan

    This is such a great testimony! Thanks for sharing your story! I too noticed a huge difference in my son’s development when I focused on nutrient dense foods! His eczema cleared and he seems so much happier! (With butter, my whole family is happier!) thanks for sharing!

  13. Thank you for sharing your story with me. It is similar to mine in lots of ways. I too went through my pregnancy as a vegan – I focused on healthy non processed foods and had a healthy pregnancy and baby. I raised her as a vegan for the first 1.5 years and she has always been healthy and is much more advanced than her peers in a lot of ways. After that time I decided that I didn’t want her to grow up as a vegan so she now eats meat, eggs and some dairy but it is very hard to get hold of healthy animal products where I live. I never restricted her fat though so this might have made a difference. She is also a picky eater though and it took her ages to try meat and she’s still fussy with it.

    I believe that there are various healthy diets but I want my children to make their own choices when it comes to a variety of healthy foods. So I’ll introduce animal foods to my baby boy a bit earlier when he starts on solids.

    Thank you so much for your story and I’m so glad Piper is doing well now.

  14. says: Renata

    HI I am mom of 3 year old who hardly speaks, he is extremely bright little boy. I am very puzzled because we follow WAPF diet and he is not deprived of healthy fats by any means. I was breastfeeding him for 2 years of his life also following WAPF diet. Any ideas?

    1. says: Kristin

      Hi Renata, I truly believe some children really are just “late” talkers. Some children just need time. I don’t think diet is 100% the answer, although I do believe in the importance of eating well and how it can help heal the body if there is an imbalance, as in Piper’s case. Have you looked into GAPS? That is a book I read and the direction I really started to head with Piper (although I didn’t cut grains, just switched how I prepared them). That book has been incredibly helpful!

  15. says: Vivian Cheng

    Wow. What a story. Thank you for sharing. Interestingly, my son was underweight and had a hard time gaining from about the time he was 10 months old, and we were told by doctors to put fat in everything he ate. More butter, more cream. (This was long before I read anything about traditional foods or nutrition). They thought that more calories in meant he would gain weight. Instead, he kind of maintained without gaining weight, and funny enough didn’t have much of an appetite after chugging a bunch of cream. He did however, flourish with his words and in hindsight, I do think it was all that fat he was eating.

    1. says: Kristin

      That’s very interesting. Thank you so much for sharing. I’m really fascinated about the crucial role fat and brain and speech development have with each other. I think our ancestors might have been on to something ;). Blessings, Kristin

  16. says: queen620

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. My son Ethan is 4 1/2 and might be autistic. We haven’t gotten a final diagnosis. He is currently diagnosed as developmentally delayed.

    A year ago after lots and lots of reading about autism and diet we started giving my son cod liver oil– high quality, just not FCLO. (As a family of 8 who all take it, I haven’t made the financial jump yet to FCLO.) Within a month of starting that and melatonin for his sleep issues he started making eye contact and started making more sounds and words. We didn’t tell his ST or ET at first. They started commenting about how hard he worked and the results they were seeing.
    We tried gluten free and saw HUGE changes. We went back on gluten so we can get some allergy testing done. I’d love to wake up and find out all of his issues were diet related. We are slowly moving towards more traditional diet and have seen major changes.

    1. says: Kristin

      Wow! Thank you for sharing! That’s amazing. I’ve heard so many stories where fat, like CLO, has made such a huge difference. Diet isn’t always the answer to everything, but it sure can make a huge difference as we both have seen. Keep me updated. Blessings- Kristin

    2. says: Andrea

      I completely agree that diet is a huge part of a child’s development, and people are thankfully starting to realize how much diet can affect a child’s development. I have a four and a half year old son. He started showing signs of autism around 14 months of age. After two and a half years of the GAPS and SCD diet, therapy, and homeopathy, he is now in a mainstream preschool doing wonderfully. He has an aide that we think will get phased out in the next year or so. His therapists cannot believe the progress he has made, and we are so happy to have our son back! He is completely verbal with a slight delay, completely social, and a just so happy now. I write over at about our family’s journey: Thanks so much for this post!

  17. says: Karen@NourishWithKaren

    Kristin, this is such a touching story and one that so many people need to hear as the nutrition found in traditional foods is fundamental to our well-being. I believe that so many children, including my son, who is now 20 would have benefited from the knowledge that you found when Piper was still small. I know that diet improved my son’s ADD in his teen years and even he says it has. Thank you so much for sharing it. I will be sharing this article over on my site! Take care and enjoy your lovely children. They grow up so fast!

  18. says: Wendy Polisi

    Thanks for sharing this Kristin! I was vegan when I unexpectedly became pregnant at 41. By the time my daughter was three months old, she was fine but I had hundreds of bruises, energy lower than I’ve ever experienced and both B12 and iron deficiency anemia. I’ve felt bad at times at adding meat back to our diets, but this story makes me realize that there could have been consequences that I never even imagined had I not. The funny thing is that she is 7 1/2 months old now and her favorite food BY FAR is egg yolk. It’s like her little body is craving what it missed. 🙂

  19. says: kim wade

    thank you for being vulnerable by sharing your story. it is so difficult to see your little one struggling and not knowing why. thankfully your family discovered the ‘missing link’ in this case.

    i believe our western society has forgotten what eating is really about. the ONLY reason to eat is to provide nutrients to your body…to grow, function and heal. we require many different vitamins, minerals, amino acids proteins, carbs and fats for our bodies to function normally and these things come from a wide variety of sources. some very essential nutrients only come from certain sources.

    any way of eating that excludes entire groups of foods (or types of nutrients) is going to be detrimental. fats are essential (as is cholesterol :O shocking!!) for healthy brain function…yet as a society we are obsessed with ‘low fat’ and ‘no fat’ options. not to mention that when you take the fat out of something…it needs to be replaced with chemicals to make it taste good.

    since getting pregnant (and now having a very active 16 month old) i have become very pro active about feeding my family a variety of REAL foods. i feel my own health has improved dramatically and truly hope to pass on the food knowledge i have acquired to my daughter so she can make better choices than i did through my young adult years.

    i am happy to have found your blog and am now a follower 🙂 thank you for inspiring others towards a REAL FOOD REVOLUTION. our health depends on it!

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Thank you so much for sharing, Kim. It’s so true our food choices make such a huge difference in the well-being of our family, especially our growing children. Your daughter is so blessed to have a mom who is committed to nourishing her body with real food vs. buying into the fads of today. Great job, mom! Keep up the awesome work 🙂

  20. says: Ursula

    Kristin, thanks for a great article! I am so glad you figured it out before it was too late to help your son.

    I have just shared this article on a natural mother’s site, especially because there are quite a few who are vegans and vegetarians, and are telling people to stop eating meat when they have any health concerns. Of course, I got attacked by several of them for posting the article, but one mother said that reading it made her realize that she hasn’t been eating the right foods for her unborn baby, and she is going to start eating red meat again.

    So, I don’t mind the attacks, if one person has been helped!

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Urusla, Thank you so much for sharing. There is so much “nutrition” advice being taught and followed these days just because it’s popular. It’s sad for our kids. Thank you for sharing Piper’s story. I’m so encouraged by the mom’s hearing it and some changing their diets too.

  21. says: Teresa

    How do you give your son the cod liver oil? Do you give him any other supplements ? Krisitn your generation is so blessed to have so much information available to you. What a blessing to be able to change your child’s life by what you feed them! God bless you and thank you for sharing your story so others will be helped.

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Thank you, Teresa. I’m blessed by the research that’s available for parents today and that I’m able to share Piper’s story.
      I give Piper a tsp of cod liver oil in his orange juice every morning. Carlsons brand makes a great cod liver oil that’s very mild vs. the Green Pasture brand.

  22. says: Kait

    It’s great to hear that you found some important keys to Piper’s growth! I’m thrilled to read about the cod liver oil that you use and I think that I’m going to try it with my nine month old, Pierce. At three months, Pierce was diagnosed with severe egg, peanut, and dairy allergies. I generally worry about protein intake for him and I, but the fat issue never crossed my mind. I’ve always taken a DHA supplement, so I might try the cod liver oil for my little man.

    Thank you for being so open about this subject!

  23. says: Katy

    I know this blog post is a bit old. I came to it by googling. Read it over. I have been dealing with the same issues and after a LOT of reading I am finally beginning to understand why my daughter has (or had) speech issues so severe that she was diagnosed with apraxia. I believe she did not have enough b12. I do see that you briefly cited b12 as something that needs to be included in the diet. Just wanted to post this to emphasize that if you give a b12 deficient child fats, whether from breastmilk or from fish or fish oil or vitamin E, his body will not metabolize them well. You need both b12 and the fats. Mom needs both during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding, and baby, toddler, and child need them. Lots of Moms are worried if their children are getting enough iron and fats but completely missing out on the b12 factor.

  24. says: Maria

    Kristin, Kristin, Kristin,

    I loved reading your story…..even though it brought up so many emotions in me. 🙂 So much of your story is almost identical to ours. We also thought Thatcher’s issues were due to multiple ear infections during his first 14 months, and kept holding on to hope that he would begin speaking after getting the tubes.
    I too feel like the most helpful information and advice we got during the critical years was from a nutritionist. I’m so grateful we found her. I know that the supplements/fats we gave Thatcher made all the difference.

    You are an amazing Mother and Piper is so lucky to have you!

    I hope you are all doing well.

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Thank you so much, Maria! It was such a blessing to meet you and learn that we share such a similar story with apraxia. That moment was definitely one the major highlights of the conference for me. I truly hope our stories can help so many moms during the critical years of speech and brain development.

  25. says: Carri M. Toppert

    I am living with a grown man who is horrified by switching up his incredibly processed diet. I have 4 children and one with special needs. I feel overwhelmed, but want to make this switch. How can I do that on a budget? I am a full-time teacher and time is an issue. I looked for coops, put out adds on Craigslist looking for local people to purchase from (only 1 person has responded with free range and organic eggs). Can anyone offer guidance?

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Hey Carri,

      Congrats on making the switch to real food! At first the switch can be really overwhelming (particularly when family members aren’t 100% there yet–my husband was like that!), but I think it’s important to remember that this switch is about small changes over a long period of time (a lifetime).

      First, I recommend sitting down with your husband and letting him know you aren’t switching to just green juices and salads :), just better versions of his favorite foods. Then, ask for him to share his favorite foods. Does he love hamburgers? Make it a priority to find grass-fed ground beef, or as close to grass-fed as possible, and make delicious homemade burgers! Even top them with real cheese. Slowly, while you offer real versions of his favorites, add new foods. I think husbands are often fearful that real food will be bland and just a bowl of lettuce. It’s time to prove him wrong, in the sweetest, nicest way, and win over his taste-buds!

      Second, I highly recommend switching over to real food slowly to help with the budget. Each month choose a few foods you’d like to switch from processed to real. For example: If you want to try switching from freezer biscuits to homemade biscuits, instead of purchasing the freezer kind, purchase the ingredients for homemade biscuits. In the end, while the fresh produce (particularly organic) can be more expensive, I’ve found the dry goods actually become cheaper than buying the boxed processed food. That same bag of flour can make multiple different meals versus that bag of frozen biscuits, a one-time use product.

      Third, I love purchasing organic, but I don’t think it’s 100% necessary. I’d much rather my family eat conventional blueberries than no fruit at all just because organic food may not fit the budget this month. Meats and dairy are always my first priority before organic produce.

      If you have any local health food stores in your area they may be able to help direct you to local farms. Many times health food stores have great local connections. Another option is to search “Weston A. Price Foundation” and get in touch with a local chapter. The chapter leaders usually have lots of information on local farms.

      Here are a few posts that may help:

  26. says: Daniele

    Kristin – thank you so much for writing this! Through all the early intervention, doctor’s and specialists we have seen over the years – no one has ever mentioned diet to me. I feel so thankful right now that I read your article. I am encouraged by the success that Piper experienced. You are an incredible mom!

  27. Dear Kristin,

    Two things stand out to me in this article. 1. your obvious love of and trust in the Lord. 2. your obvious love and devotion to your family. You are an inspiration to many. Keep up the good work. Please continue putting Jesus in your blogs. God bless you and yours.

  28. says: Imani

    This is wonderful. Can you please post this to Facebook. So many mothers who are thin themselves are forcing their own issues on their babie. Feeding them low fat, or starting them out as vegan. I am afraid this is happening to my granddaughter.

  29. says: Heather

    Hello! I am a speech therapist and really enjoyed reading about your story. I’m so glad you were able to get the help you needed for your son and that your son is speaking more now.

    I just wanted to add for your readers who might be searching for reasons their child has apraxia that sometimes it can be due to enlarged tonsils or adenoids causing sleep apnea. If the brain is starved of oxygen during sleep, this can also lead to apraxia. So if anyone reading this comment is thinking about nutritional therapy for their child with apraxia of speech, please also check that your child is not suffering from sleep apnea!

  30. says: Stacy

    Thank you so much for this post! It was an answer to a prayer. I have so many questions and would love to chat but I don’t know where to even start so I’ll just leave it at “thank you”!

  31. says: Colleen


    I wanted to thank you for sharing this. I am a mom and I work with children that have psychiatric issues. Since my daughter we have been strictly a whole food family which does include meat at least 2 times a week, dairy and eggs every day. I get almost all my food from the farmers market except some of the grains. I also work with environmentalist and many of them are vegan. I tell them yes we need to change the way the US eats meat and how much of it they do, but the human body is not meant to have only produce. I know from my medical training how important vitamin B12 which you can only get from an animal byproduct no matter what other vegans say. You can take a supplement but this is from oil and probably worse for the body and world. I will be sharing your story with them to prove while being vegan may seem healthy it is missing some of the important things especially needed for our brains which we need if we are going to learn how to get this planet out of the mess we have gotten it into. So thank you.

  32. says: joyce coley

    Your experience should be heeded by all people especially pregnant women. The B.S spewed by so called experts have and are destroying our overall health. The raging against sugar is dangerous. Sugar is the main building block of cells. When someone is near death in a hospital they are given a IV of sugar water. The cravings you had during pregnancy was your body telling you that you needed the nutrients in that food. The same is true for anyone craving a certain food. Maybe there is a connection between Autism and a pregnant mother not getting enough fat and sugar in their diet while pregnant.

  33. says: Holly

    I know this is an old thread but glad to found this site and your advice. My daughter is 6 with apraxia and was interesting to hear the dietary suggestions! We have been trying dairy free (not Much help) does your child still take the supplements like cod liver oil? We do fish oil now. What was the biggest help in the your journey? Will have to get this book.. hoping we have the great success you and your son has had! Thank you!

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Hey Holly, We do Carlsons fish oil now. The fermented cod liver oil was getting a bit too fishy for us. I think adding fat to his diet was the biggest help–egg yolks, butter, etc.

  34. says: Beth


    My son has Apraxia and autism. He is an extremely picky eater, vegetables and meat is next to impossible to get him to eat. Do you have any suggestions s for me on how to incorporate your diet for my son’s needs? Thanks!

  35. says: Pat

    Hi Kristen,
    I enjoyed reading Piper’s story so much! Thank you so much for posting, and for sharing your son’s helpful supplements. Can you please clarify which Fermented Cod Liver Oil you use? Carlson doesn’t have one.
    Thank you again,

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Hey Pat, Thank you. I used Green Pastures with Piper, but I’m not sure if they make it anymore. It tasted awful, so I would have to find ways to sneak it into his diet. I prefer Carlsons Cod Liver Oil, which isn’t fermented. It’s rated very highly (or was) by the Weston A. Price Foundation.

  36. says: David

    Thank you for sharing the testimonies about your son. I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder (mild autism) years ago and when I heard that there was some studies linking it to food or diet, something inside of me grabbed hold of that, so that I had no more doubt. I now eat gluten-free, dairy-free, no gmo-foods, no additives and all that, and trying now to eat exclusively organic, as I find that eating organic really helps with energy, appetite, and motivation.

    It was learning about your son that helped me to learn more about fat, and now I will focus more on eating more fats from fish and especially krill, and not so much focus on eating flax. I’ve been wondering why I haven’t had too much of an appetite for it over the past months. And eating other healthy fats from seeds and nuts.

    I find that if I want to stay away from the unhealthy fats found in the vending machine, I need to eat my healthy fats FIRST, so that I will have less vulnerability to caving in to eating the unhealthy ones, so that I will be satisfied, and that I need to eat my healthy sugars FIRST, to have power to avoid the unhealthy ones, but that if I try to cut out the unhealthy foods first, that my body will go on strike. I need to fill up first on the good stuff.

    It’s refreshing to hear from you talk about the health benefits of healthy fats, and thank you for doing the research and looking. Thank you very much. You’ve motivated me to eat more fish. 🙂 and other healthy fats.

  37. says: Lori

    Thank you for this story. My daughter & her husband, who she thinks is a genius, are insisting on raising their son vegan. He is 16 months old and has done very well. He was breast fed until about a month ago and now I am worried sick about his health due to an only plant based diet. They are digging in their heels about this and have a few friends and relatives who are living vegan. I’ve tried so hard to get them to also fed him healthy animal products and nothing will work. We have found organic farms in the area that sell grass fed organic meats but they won’t even consider feeding him meat, fish, or cow’s milk. I would say he is feed as well as a vegan can be but I am so worried about his health. She also has a friend who is raising her children vegan. The eldest is 7 and they have thrived but I’m still terribly scared for my grandson.

  38. says: Jennifer Baez

    Thanks for the story, although it seems to me that a plant based diet is being blamed. A plant based diet can most definitely be considered healthy during pregnancy and beyond. Each person, whether vegan or not, need to do their own research as to what foods to include and what foods to avoid during pregnancy.

    Omega 3s can be found in algae. No need to obtain from fish.
    Healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, seeds (chia, hemp, etc.) is plentiful in a plant based diet.
    Iron rich foods such as beans, lentils and tofu combined with vitamin C foods is also fully available and suitable during pregnancy.
    B12 is an American problem.
    40% of Americans are deficient whether they are vegan or Not.
    So it’s best to supplement. Furthermore, there are plenty of health risks associated with eating meat, dairy and eggs.

    I just think that’s important to offer a full story and not blame the plants.

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Hey Jennifer, Thanks for sharing.

      No culture in history has lived 100% off plants. Personally, I don’t recommend or advocate a vegan diet as healthy, and hope to encourage mothers against such a way of long-term eating. As you mentioned, it’s important to do your own research and dive deep into tradition and what has nourished healthy families for thousands and thousands of years.

      I agree, eating dairy, meat, and eggs from our conventional system (which is far from traditional or the way nature intended for those animals to be raised) is not healthy. There’s a HUGE difference between this type of animal product and a cow that’s raised on a local, sustainable farm, on grass. Or chickens raised on pasture with eggs that are so incredibly rich in nutrients–one of the healthiest and most nutrient-rich foods around. Or dairy that’s in a raw state or cultured and fermented. This can be such beautiful, live-giving food. But we have to look at the source. When this food is raised in a regenerative, sustainable way, it’s far more healthy and sustainable (way better for you and the earth) than any supplement can ever be. (Supplements are produced in a lab with ingredients that are much harder for our bodies, most of the time, to use and digest).

  39. says: Roberta

    This is so encouraging! I have just started incorporating more good fats vs his bad fats back in and DHA supplements. I have read that probiotics and fiber help bring down inflammation in their small bodies as well so I am hoping this year we see a lot of speech from our little man!

  40. says: Charlene

    I echo Lori’s Feb 2018 comment above. Our grandchild (2-1/2), raised as a strict vegan, clearly has apraxia – exactly as Kristen describes Piper’s condition. Any suggestion to his parents that this could be caused by a DHA and/or animal fat deficiency is met by complete and utter anger, derision and denial on their part. I have nowhere to turn and am extremely distraught. I fear they have caused permanent neurological damage to this child.

    1. says: Chardea Singer

      Hi Charlene,

      That’s tough, the only thing I can think is to show them research and present that research in a way that shows you’re not trying to supersede them as parents but just lovingly want to offer other options. The book Deep Nutrition is absolutely one of the best! The second would be Nourishing Traditions.

      I hope this helped! Best of luck.

      LS Team.

  41. says: Chowchow

    Here it is 2020 we have fast food vegan burgers and tons of sites selling vegan . Experts agree it is possible for a infant to be raised as a vegan. Next they say it takes planning and working with a cert. dietitian to make sure they get all the nutrients necessary for development. Maybe this gave them more clients. But I do not believe most new vegan moms paid mind to the recommendation. After all , young moms have the internet that knows more than their outdated moms or grandma. I’m sorry you had to find out the hard way but your shared experience will hopefully help the well meaning vegan moms. God bless you. I am the paternal grandma who is not allow to talk about diet any more to save fights . I wish I could find a way for vegan mom (since conception) , to read this . GD is 19 mos old who has problems with speech . She understands great, can say 30 basic nouns and wants to talk but most time utters one”ahhhhhh” sound. Mom thinks it’s cute but everyone else is concerned , kids are annoyed. I have spent time and money to find comparable V foods . Most Vegan have to use supplements that are expensive,over processed ,doubts of absorption , need to become habit, and r non appealing to toddlers or moms . I wish experts would list the cons before the pros when asked if possible to raise a healthy vegan baby. Alot of things are possible. If we are what we eat than a well balanced diet of moderation and variety (not restrictive) will yield well balanced person. I do not believe vegan was with developing babies or pregnant moms in mind . These are the most warned and protected humans. Common sense should alert as to why? . Pregnancy and infants have special needs. I also wonder how many of these vegan moms
    were raised vegan ? I doubt many can even get pregnant, if so it may explain their choice. But those new moms who consumed animal products as a child are you not healthy as an adult ? Eat less animal products over an life time is more helpful to environment than no animal products ( finding deficiency) for a short time. Someone should make a viral video concerning our pregnant moms and babies nutrition and major risks of vegan diet during this special time. Thank you

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