The owners of a natural food store near Antwerp, in Belgium, have been charged in the death of their seven-month-old baby, after he died of malnutrition and dehydration while his parents were trying to feed him on an all-natural, gluten-free, lactose free alternative diet. The parents assert they were just trying to care for their baby the best they could, but that included feeding him a diet of quinoa milk and taking him only to an homeopathic doctor, not any of the actual doctors nearby or their local hospital. The seven-month-old baby weighed just nine pounds–which would have been a normal size for a newborn, not  seven-month-old–when he died.

According to The Independent, the baby’s parents ran a natural food store, and they were described as extremely religious. During the baby’s autopsy, doctors found that his stomach was completely empty, but there was a prayer card stuck in his diaper.

The parents had reportedly diagnosed for themselves that the baby was lactose intolerant and couldn’t process gluten, but they don’t appear to have ever taken him to an actual doctor. Prosecutors say that no doctor had a file on the baby, and child protective services didn’t even know he existed. When the baby was starving to death, though, the parents did decide to take him for medical attention. Rather than go to the local hospital, though, they decided to drive all the way across Belgium to take him to a “homeopathic doctor.” The Daily Mail reports that the homeopath took one look at the baby and told them to go to the hospital immediately, but that the baby had died by the time they got to the hospital.

The father said in court that they never took the baby to a doctor because they never noticed anything unusual, even though their seven-month-old was half the expected size of a child his age when he died, and an autopsy showed his stomach was completely empty. The doctors who performed the autopsy testified that the baby must have been gasping for air in the days before his death, but his parents say they didn’t think there was anything unusual going on.

The parents’ lawyer says the baby had eating issues and would get stomach cramps for a bottle, and the parents were just trying out alternatives to feed him something he could process.

“Oat milk, rice milk, buckwheat milk, semolina milk, quinoa milk. All products which they also sell in their store,” she said. They might have been trying to find something that would work, but they were clearly not succeeding, and they should have taken the baby to a doctor months earlier.

If the baby really got stomach cramps when he was fed, that’s something an actual doctor could have helped with. The world is full of healthful, safe baby formulas for kids who are lactose intolerant and gluten intolerant. There are even organic options. There’s no reason to make a DIY baby formula recipe out of quinoa and semolina milk.

The parents’ trial is still ongoing. The judge is expected to rule on June 14.

(Image: iStockPhoto / grinvalds)