When becoming a parent – especially for the first time – it seems like there are so many things to be thinking about. Car seats, beds, breastfeeding, injections…and that’s before you even get on to introducing solid foods.
Whilst MOST foods are absolutely fine for babies when you start weaning, there are some foods to avoid giving to babies, especially very early on.
Take a look below at some of the foods to avoid offering to babies – including some that you may otherwise think of as healthy options!
What foods to avoid for infants
- Sugar – babies are born with a preference for sweet foods but offering foods with added sugar can encourage a preference for those foods in later life. Sugar can have negative effects on our health and especially on our teeth so it’s best to limit foods with added sugar until children are older. You can read more on sugar for babies and young children in my blog.
- Salt – babies only need a small amount of salt and too much can be bad for children’s health as well as adults. Avoid adding salt, as well as sugar, to any of baby’s foods. For more on how much salt a baby should have, check out my blog.
- Honey – can contain a bacteria that could lead to infant botulism – a very rare but serious condition. Honey is therefore not recommended to be given to babies until they are at least one year of age. I have a blog all about honey for babies, which has plenty more detail!
- Undercooked or raw meat/fish – because of the risk of food poisoning from bacteria which haven’t been killed by cooking.
- Whole nuts – because of the risk of choking. Ground nuts, chopped nuts and nut butters are fine from around 6 months of age though.
- Unpasteurised dairy & certain cheeses – Cook unpasteurised dairy products before offering to baby e.g. cheese. Also you may need to avoid certain cheeses that are more likely to contain listeria (a type of bacteria). These include mould-ripened soft cheeses, such as brie or camembert, ripened goats’ milk cheese and soft blue-veined cheese, such as roquefort. These cheeses are ok to offer IF they are well cooked into baby’s foods, however. If you’re unsure, check cheese is pasteurised and bake/cook before offering.
- Cow’s milk as a whole drink until 1 year – cow’s milk doesn’t contain the right levels of fat, protein or energy for baby’s appropriate growth. Cow’s milk can be offered from 6 months of age in small amounts mixed into foods, but not as a whole drink until 1 year. If you’re confused about what milk to offer your baby and when, I have a factsheet which covers everything about milk for babies and children.
- Raw or lightly cooked eggs – UNLESS they are Red Lion Stamped – these can be offered lightly cooked to baby as the Red Lion hens have been vaccinated against salmonella. I also often hear people say that NON Red Lion Stamped eggs shouldn’t be offered to baby, which is incorrect. These CAN be offered but need to be well cooked, all the way through. See my blog on Eggs as a first food for baby for more information.
- Whole grapes – grapes are a great snack for children but there size is perfect to get lodged in baby’s throat if they aren’t chewing properly. It’s a good idea when offering grapes to offer them chopped. Removing the skin (if possible) can also help as it can be quite tough and often gets left behind in baby’s mouth.
- Raisins – again raisins can be a healthy option for baby, but if offered alone as a snack, raisins can get stuck to the teeth. Because of their high sugar concentration this means there is a risk of damaging tiny teeth if this happens regularly. Raisins are fine to offer young children every now and then, but it’s best to keep them to mealtimes.
- Juice – babies don’t need juice at all (baby juice or anything else) and milk and water are the best and only tooth friendly sources of fluid for baby. Any nutrients found in juice can be obtained by eating the whole fruit instead. Check out my blog on Drinks for Babies.
- High fibre foods – when feeding baby we need to make sure they get plenty of variety to ensure they can grow and develop well. Offering too many high fibre foods such as wholemeal bread, cereals and bran can bulk out their tiny tummies and make them less hungry for other foods. It’s fine to offer wholemeal foods and bread, but watch the portion sizes and try to offer a mix of white and wholemeal varieties too.
What if my baby has reflux, should they avoid certain foods?
Weaning a baby with reflux can be particularly tricky. Certain foods can certainly make reflux symptoms worse, and you may need to avoid some foods until your baby’s reflux has improved.
However, which foods they might be are different for EVERY baby. Unfortunately, there is no specific list of foods to avoid for babies with reflux, and it’s important to try to work out your baby’s triggers. A food and symptom diary can help with this. For more on weaning a reflux baby, check out my blog.
For more advice on introducing solid foods to your baby, as well as family friendly recipes: