When your baby turns 6 months, a whole new world of food opens up to them. And to you too of course. As a parent, you can now begin the weaning process by introducing your baby to solid foods. And truly, there is a lot to pick from!
The good thing is that a healthy baby can actually eat a wide variety of solid foods, which can help fulfil their nutritional requirement and effectively contribute to their optimal growth and development. However, though your baby can eat a host of solid foods doesn’t mean they should be eating all of them. Certain foods are best avoided as they can be major health hazards.
Here is a list of 15 foods to avoid for infants that you must swear by.
- Refined sugar foods
- Cow’s milk
- Cheese or cheese based foods
- Unpasteurised foods
- Fruit juices
- Cured or smoked meat
- High mercury fish
- Raw or semi cooked eggs
- Raw sprouts
- Whole nuts
- Raw fruits and veggies
- Sticky, chewy foods
- Rice milk
Refined sugar is just as unhealthy for babies as it is for adults. According to the CDC, babies under the age of 2 years should not be given foods containing refined sugar as they can increase your baby’s daily calorie intake as well as lead to tooth decay.
That is not all though. Regular feeding of refined sugar foods can cause your baby to develop a sweet tooth, which can lead them to consuming excess sugar later on in life, thus increasing their risk of developing ailments such as type 2 diabetes. So avoid sweet biscuits, sugar drinks and juices etc. at all costs.
Sure it is a natural sweetener that contains antioxidants and minerals (trace amounts though) but it will be wise to steer clear of it. The reason is because feeding honey to babies less than a year old can increase their risk of infant botulism. Plus, it contains a whole lot of sugar, posing the same risks as refined sugar does.
Did you know that babies aged under 12 months need only less than 1 gm of salt per day? Experts say that breast milk is enough to fulfil an infant’s daily sodium requirement. Anything more that would be considered in excess.
The side effects of salted foods for babies include extra pressure on their developing kidneys since kidneys are responsible for keeping sodium levels in check in the body. Salted foods that you should avoid feeding your baby include bacon, chips, crisps, fries, fritters and sausages among others.
It is a myth that cow’s milk is good for babies aged under a year. Though it is rich in nutrients, it still lacks certain vital nutrients which are essential for your baby’s growth such as zinc, vitamin E and iron. That is not all. There are good chances that babies might develop an allergy to cow’s milk. Plus, its dense concentration of nutrients and proteins can put a lot of stress on your baby’s kidneys.So it should go on the no-no list.
An excellent source of protein, vitamins and calcium, cheese can be a great supplement to your infant’s diet. However, there are certain types of cheese that you must steer clear of. Soft cheeses that have been mould-ripened such as blue cheese, brie or goat cheese can carry the bacteria known as listeria, which causes food poisoning. You should also avoid cheesy foods as these are highly processed and bad for your baby’s gut.
The problem with unpasteurised foods such as raw milk, cider vinegar, yoghurt etc. is that they can increase your baby’s chances of getting infected by E. coli bacteria. E. coli can lead to several severe health issues in babies such as meningitis and septicemia.
Fruit juices might sound like one of the best foods to feed your baby when you start the weaning process but hold that thought. Fruit juices do not offer any nutritional value aside from adding extra sugar to their diet. And as you already know, sugar is bad for your baby. Packaged fruit juices can also cause tooth decay.
Cured or smoked meats are partially cooked, which makes them potential carriers of harmful bacteria. They also contain a lot of sodium and fat, which are both unhealthy and hard to digest for your baby. If you must give your baby meat, make sure it is well-cooked with an internal temperature of 165-degrees.
From iodine and lean protein to zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, fish is a powerhouse of nutrients. However, your baby can only derive these benefits if low mercury, fatty fishes are a part of their diet. Think salmon and tuna. High mercury fishes such as mackerel, tilefish etc. can hamper your baby’s neurological development, thus causing issues such as impaired speech.
If your complementary feeding plan for your baby includes well-cooked eggs, you are in the clear. However, semi cooked or raw eggs can expose your baby to Salmonella, which is a type of bacterial infection that can lead to hospitalisation in severe cases. Bacterial infections such as these can also damage your baby’s digestive system.
Mung bean sprouts are one of the commonest healthy snacks in India. After all, they are rich in several micronutrients. However, owing to their raw nature, they may carry harmful bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella, which as we have discussed can cause your baby to fall sick.
Be it peanuts, almonds, walnuts or cashew nuts, the problem in giving babies whole nuts is that they can be a major choking hazard. Grind them to a fine powder instead and add it to your baby’s food to prevent choking.
Just like whole nuts, these too can be a choking hazard for your infant. Boiled mushy veggies are better for your baby. So are small, diced and seedless or de-seeded fruits such as berries.
We are talking candies, jellies, peanut butter, foods with caramel, marshmallows, popcorns and the like. These sticky foods are not only difficult for your baby to swallow, but they also increase the risk of choking. Best avoided till your baby is at least 4 years old.
Though it is an acceptable alternative for lactose intolerant adults, for babies rice milk can cause a ton of issues. Rice milk is likely to be high inorganic arsenic, which can negatively impact the cognitive development of your baby slowly and gradually.
Infancy is a tricky time for parents. Figuring out the best foods for your baby as you start weaning can be a challenge. We hope this list of foods to avoid for infants gives you a fair idea of what not to do. At EuroKids, we place a lot of importance on a balanced diet for our preschool students, recommending ideal lunch box items so your kids can stay healthy and happy. Visit us to know more about us.