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Food Babies Should Not Eat

Published September 25, 2012        by Sarah

Parents have a lot on their plates; they are charged with raising these precious little babies into healthy kids and adults. The eating habits we learn as children follow us throughout life, and it is important we teach our children to eat the right foods.  When they are babies, it is also important that we know which are the wrong foods.  Many choices that are healthy for adults and older children are not good for babies.

Say you get a new baby gift basket with lots of little snacks and foods, should you share with baby? Probably not. What about every other day? What should you avoid?

First, why can’t babies eat certain foods?  One reason is that they may be allergic.  Most food allergies (80 percent) are caused by these “culprits”:

  • Milk.
  • Eggs.
  • Peanuts.
  • Tree nuts (cashews, walnuts, almonds, etc.)
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Soy
  • Wheat

Other times, the food does not necessarily present an allergy risk, but babies’ gastrointestinal tracts and digestive systems are not mature enough to handle processing them.  So foods that are healthy and beneficial for older kids and adults are out for babies. Honey is a great example; local honey is packed with nutrients, but babies’ do not have a mature intestinal tract to filter out the bacteria. This can lead to infant botulism.  What other foods should wait until your baby is older?

  • Citric or acidic fruits.
  • Raw blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries.
  • Egg whites.
  • Deep fried foods.
  • Smoked foods.
  • Cheeses made with unpasteurized milk.
  • The foods on the common allergens list (milk, fish, wheat, nuts, etc.)
  • Broccoli or legumes. This could cause gas in your baby, which might make her uncomfortable. Rather than cut it out completely, test it for a reaction. The health benefits of these foods is incredible, so if she can tolerate a bit of gas (and you can), go for it.
  • High nitrate vegetables, such as carrots, beets, cabbage, turnip, and spinach.  The American Academy of Pediatrics says that nitrate buildup can cause “Blue Baby Syndrome,” or nitrate poisoning. They recommend that no one under 3 months should have these vegetables.  Of course, you aren’t feeding your 3 month old solids yet, so this is a rather pointless and misleading item to list.  Of course you can make mashed carrots for your 6-month-old. Of course she can have spinach.  Whether or not she’ll like them is a different story!  If you are concerned, however, opt for organic versions of these veggies, which have lower levels of nitrates.

Another concern is choking. Certain foods are very difficult for babies to chew well enough to swallow, or they are the “perfect” size for choking; that is, they are the diameter of the child’s throat and can block the airway. These include:

  • Grapes.
  • Hot dogs.
  • Raw carrots.
  • Apples.
  • Peanuts.
  • Marbles and toys. No, they’re not food, but your baby will try to stuff them into her mouth nonetheless.

There are other foods that fall into the “You Should Not Feed This To Your Child” category because they’re not nutritionally valuable.  Things like artificial sweeteners, soda, high sugar foods, such as juice, cereal, and candy, salt, and foods with high saturated fat contents are best left un-tasted.  They can contribute to weight gain and child obesity, and because we have the opportunity to help our kids develop great eating habits for life, we should seize it.  Veggies, organic fruit, whole grains, lean meats, and other choices are full of nutrients – and they can be made in ways that appeal to children. You don’t have to eliminate treats but make them just that – treats. Once in a while is a lot different than every day!

Because recommendations change frequently, it is a good idea to consult your pediatrician for the latest updates and ask if you have any questions about your child’s particular situation and diet.

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