Foods to avoid feeding your baby
When you start to wean your baby, there are some basic ground rules that will help you and your child make the transition to eating solids healthily and safely.
Foods to avoid
• No seasoning
Babies do not need to have added ‘flavour’ in their food and their bodies cannot cope with salt. This also goes for stock cubes and Marmite or tomato puree – if you want to make a ‘stock’ to mix into your baby’s mashed food, use cool boiled water or breast or formula milk.
• No cow’s milk
Until your baby is one year old. Use expressed breastmilk or prepared formula milk to make your child’s food.
• No sugars or honey
Your child doesn’t need food to taste sweeter and honey is not safe to give to babies under one year old as it can cause food poisoning.
• No nuts, seeds or grains
These can cause allergic reactions and be a choking hazard. If there is no history of intolerance to things like wheat or oats, then you can try soft bread (without chunky seeds in) as your baby approaches one year.
• No citrus or berries, especially strawberries
These will be great foods later on but can be common allergens in babies.
• Top choking hazards
Once your baby is eating finger foods, avoid grapes and other small smooth foods like cherries or hotdog sausages, that could slip into your baby’s throat easily without being chewed to a size that’s easier to swallow. (You should be careful offering whole grapes even to toddlers.)
• Avoid some fish
Try to stick to simple, mild fish such as cod, coley or haddock. Many other fish contain pollutants and others like shark and swordfish contain dangerous levels of mercury.
• Processed meats
When your child is a little older and eating different meats, avoid processed ones like ham and some sausages which can contain high levels of salt.
• Undercooked or unpasteurised food
The rule of what you avoided in pregnancy – eg blue cheeses and runny egg – is a good one to follow when feeding babies.
Common allergens and intolerance
If you or your partner suffer from food allergies or asthma or eczema, discuss with your health visitor what other foods might be best avoided or introduced with caution. It is best not to presume that a whole area of food needs automatically to be ‘out of bounds’ as this could be depriving your child of essential nutrients for no reason. However do proceed with caution when trying the most common allergenic foods with small infants: eggs, nuts, shellfish (and in some cases fish generally).
When you start to offer cow’s milk at one year you might find your baby reacts badly to it. This allergy does tend to pass as a child gets older but talk to your doctor about a possible bad reaction rather than persisting. Milk is a valuable source of calcium for your children and your doctor may need to advise on safer alternatives for the time being.
There is no need to offer your baby fruit juice until at least one year and even then these should be heavily diluted. Under one, stick to breast or formula milk, or cool freshly boiled water. Beyond one, cow’s (or breast) milk and water are still preferable.
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