Updated: Sep 5, 2019
One major milestones in a baby's life is the time when they can begin exploring solid food. This milestone usually happens when a baby turns six months old, for some even as early as 4 months old.
Before you head to your favourite grocer, you need to know what food to buy for your baby. You also need to know what they ought to try first. Some food may be too much for their senses and digestive system.
As much as you want to be adventurous, it is better to wait until your child reaches 1 year old before offering some food.
We've put together a list of foods some experts agree that parents should be cautious of when feeding their babies. That being said, we are mothers, not paediatricians, nutritionists or scientists. Health and food recommendations and regulations are constantly evolving so use your intuition, conduct your own research and consult your doctor in addition to reading this article.
Although honey has a lot of healthy properties, it can cause infant botulism. Infant botulism happens because of Clostridium Botulinum bacteria that is found in honey.
This bacterium multiplies in your child’s immature digestive system and can cause constipation, difficulty sucking and weak crying. In rare cases, infant botulism can be fatal.
While older toddlers can fight infant botulism, babies below a year old are at high risk.
Corn syrup and other natural sweeteners may also pose a similar risk as they may not be sterile.
Alternatively, you can give babies pureed fruits and use them as a sweetening agent.
You can also try various cereals and graham crackers, but you may need to check the labels. It is possible that the honey used in these foods are not pasteurized.
Nuts and Peanut Butter
Nuts are good sources of protein, but it is best to feed it to your children when they are much older.
Nuts pose choking hazard since young children’s airways are still narrow. It may also trigger allergic reactions, which can be risky especially for young babies.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that whole nuts should be avoided until a child is at least 4 years old to minimize the risk of choking. Ground or processed nuts can be offered but caution is advised when doing so.
Peanut butter is a choking hazard because of its thick consistency. If a child chokes on peanut butter, it is difficult to remove the thick, sticky paste from unblocking the child’s airway.
National Institutes of Health mentions that you can introduce peanut butter to babies as early as 4 to 6 months. But, make sure to spread the layer of peanut butter thinly on bread. You may combine peanut butter with applesauce to dilute the thick consistency.
During the first year of your baby's life, do not feed them cow or soy milk. Cow and soy milk often contain protein and minerals that babies under 1 year are unable to digest yet.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, these proteins and minerals can cause stress for a newborn’s immature kidneys and cause severe illness including diarrhea and fever.
Furthermore, some toddlers cannot handle the lactose in dairy products. Others can even be allergic to lactose, triggering diarrhea and allergy reactions.
Cow’s milk also lacks the amount of iron, vitamin C and other essential nutrients that a baby needs. It may lead to iron deficiency, irritated and bleeding intestinal lining. For these reasons, it is crucial that you do not give your baby any cow’s milk before they turn a year old.
Once they are a year old, you can slowly introduce cow’s milk in their diet.
Vegetables with high nitrate content such as spinach, lettuce and beets should not be included in your baby’s to-try list until your pediatrician recommends it. They contain nitrates young babies cannot break down.
The reason for this is the lack of strong stomach acids that can break down these nitrates. Nitrates are dangerous because they can disable the blood's ability to deliver oxygen throughout the body.
As a result, it can cause your child to have low oxygen levels or commonly known as the Blue Baby Syndrome.
Stick with squashes, sweet potatoes and other soft and low-nitrate veggies. You can also purchase organic produce since it is safer for your children.
The Environmental Working Group’s website list vegetables you should get organic, as well as list of which produce usually has a lot of pesticides.
Tuna, shark and mackerel should be far from your baby's menu. These fishes contain high mercury levels, which can be deadly for babies. Seafood like shellfish and lobsters are also known to trigger allergic reactions.
However, The Environmental Protection Agency does recommend canned light tuna as an alternative if you are looking for a fish with low mercury content. Choose white fish like cod and haddock and remove all their bones before serving it to young children.
If there is a history of seafood allergy in the family, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents wait longer than 1 year before introducing seafood to their kids.
Berries and Citrus Fruits
All variety of berries from strawberries to blackberries contain a certain type of protein that is hard to digest. Citrus fruits like oranges and lemons are acidic and can cause skin and diaper rash and an upset stomach.
If you choose to feed these fruits to your baby, offer them these fruits in small quantity. You can cut them into small pieces or dilute the juice before serving. Make sure to watch out for any allergy reaction.
While it is a favourite of many kids, it is not suitable for babies until they are older than 1 year old. A grape's skin is hard to digest and its shape and size poses a choking hazard even when its cut in half.
By the time they are 1 year old, most babies are good at chewing food and often already have molars to help them chew.
Seedless grapes are a good option. Make sure you remove the skin and cut them in small pieces. You can also offer grape juice.
Babies do not need additional salt in their diet. They only need about 1 gram of salt per day.
Food with a lot of salt are high in sodium and young babies’ kidneys are not equipped to handle high levels of sodium. Breast milk or formulas is enough to provide everything they need.
Eggs are one of the most common allergy causing food. Egg whites, in particular, contain proteins that can trigger allergies.
However, in a 2010 study done by the University of Melbourne and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, it is recommended to introduce eggs to babies before they turn 1 year old, preferably around 6 months old.
The studies found babies lower the risk of developing egg allergies if it is introduced early especially for babies with no known history of egg allergy in the family.
If you are planning to introduce eggs to your babies, make sure it is fully cooked. Also look for any allergy reaction or irritation.
Chocolate contains caffeine that can upset young babies stomach, lead to sleeping difficulties and cause higher blood pressure.
Certain types of chocolates, like M&Ms, are also a choking hazards due to their size and shape. The coating of these chocolates can be sharp and unpleasant for young babies’ throat.
Chocolates also often contains allergens like milk, soy and nuts. Parents are advised to monitor their children for any allergy reactions should they decide to offer chocolates.
It is always best to speak to your pediatrician about food that you may choose to offer your children. This is particularly important if they are under 1 year old.
Kally Tay works as a freelance content writer through her website, providing career advice and consultations. She is equipped with many years of experience in Management and various industries including Education, Healthcare, Retail, Advertising, IT, Telecommunications, and E-Commerce specializing in Sales, Customer Service, Project Management and operations.