With all the fruits, veggies, breads and lean meats in the world, it’s amazing that babies live their first year off of breast milk or formula along with rice cereals and some baby foods. If you have ever considered feeding your baby with more variety or something more exotic, however, you are likely better off refraining. Babies’ digestive and immune systems are such that early introduction to some foods could be harmful.
Unless otherwise instructed by your child’s pediatrician, you should avoid giving your baby the following foods during your baby’s first 12 months.
Potentially harmful foods
- Fruit juices: Babies should not drink more than 4 ounces of fruit juice each day. Most fruit juices are high in sugar, and can give babies diarrhea if too much is consumed.
- Honey: Honey can contain Clostridium botulinum spores, which are typically harmless to adults, but can be dangerous to babies. Never give babies honey if they are under a year of age.
- Unpasteurized cheeses: While most cheese you can purchase are pasteurized, read food labels carefully to be sure to reduce the risk of introducing harmful bacteria to your baby.
Little nutritional value foods
- Chocolate: Chocolate contains caffeine and sugar—two items your baby does not need at this young age.
- Cow’s milk: This milk type just does not have the nutrients that mother’s milk or formula do. Also, your baby’s young stomach may have a hard time digesting cow’s milk.
- Potato chips: Potato chips and other salty snacks offer little nutritional value to your baby’s diet and can upset his or her stomach. Skip them in favor of healthier items.
You should also take steps to avoid foods that could potentially be choking hazards for your child. This includes anything that is hard and cannot mash easily, such as whole grapes, raw veggies, popcorn, hot dogs and hard candies.
Many parents worry about introducing their kids to potentially allergenic food—such as peanuts, tree nuts, and eggs—but according to the updated food recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, there is no reason to delay the introduction of allergenic foods for most children. This updated policy (as of 2013) states that parents should not delay the introduction of any foods in children with normal allergy risk after the ages of 4–6 months. The only situation that warrants food restriction is among children who have a first-degree relative with allergies. In fact, among low-risk children, research is now showing that earlier introduction of the “classically allergenic” foods actually helps prevent development of food allergies.
- Some foods may be unsuitable for your baby because they cause allergic reactions in their undeveloped immune systems or are difficult to digest.
- Talk to your child’s pediatrician about eating a particular food if you are uncertain.
- Examples of foods to avoid at least until your child’s first birthday include cow’s milk, peanuts, honey and chocolate.