Starting baby on solid is one of the most exciting milestones! It can also be a daunting and somewhat stressful step for new moms. One of the most important and crucial tasks is figuring out which foods to avoid giving to baby too soon.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until at least 4-6 months of age before beginning to introduce solids to baby. Some foods are considered to be a higher allergy risk to others. Some are more likely to upset babies tummies and some are choking hazards.
If a baby is started on solids too soon it could completely backfire. At 4-6 months the reflex of pushing things out of their mouths with their tongue disappear, so gagging is less likely to happen. Their gut is more developed, and the risk of developing an allergy is also less likely to occur at 4-6 months.
The great thing is, the baby doesn't need food because his calories and nutrients are coming from, primarily, breast milk or formula. If trying fails at first, there is always time. To help, we've put together a list of foods to avoid at first, plus five foods that are great to ideal to start with!
16 Avoid Spinach Until The Baby Is 7 Months Old
Just to be clear, commercial grade spinach specifically made for babies is fine for them to have.
That being said, pediatricians recommend avoiding using real spinach and pureeing real spinach to give to your baby.
The reasoning behind this is that spinach contains high amounts of nitrates. Spinach isn't the only food that contains these nitrates either. You may be thinking that spinach along with other vegetables like beets and turnips have a large amount of nutritional value, which they normally do, but they also contain large amounts of nitrates. Nitrates can cause anemia and methemoglobinemia in infants.
Nitrates are a chemical found in soil and water. They are both commercially and naturally made by the plants themselves. They are most commonly found in greens like spinach and root vegetables. It can also be found in certain water. Parents with well water should get their water tested for nitrates too.
Doctors recommend holding off on pureeing or boiling your own spinach until the baby is at least seven months old. Buying these foods as commercial baby food is fine as long as the recommended age on the package is appropriate for your little. After seven months these foods will be fine!
15 Babies Can't Digest Whole Milk
The one-year recommendation for avoiding milk has remained unchanged by pediatricians and researchers. Many parents wonder why we can't just replace formula or breast milk with whole milk, but in reality, the risks aren't worth it.
Infants cannot digest whole milk as easily as breast milk or formula. Yogurt and cheese are an exception to this rule, but as for whole milk, it is not only hard on their stomachs, it also hinders the absorption of iron. Iron is already in breast milk and it's added to all formulas. By giving your baby whole milk, any iron they do get may not be absorbed as needed. It can actually irritate the lining of the babies stomach and cause them to be anemic.
Another reason that a baby shouldn't be given whole milk before at least 12 months is that cow's milk does not contain the healthy fats that infants need. Lastly, cow's milk contains proteins and minerals that a baby's intestines are not mature enough to digest. They can cause diarrhea, heat stress, and a fever.
There is no reason to start baby on cow's milk until they reach the one year milestone. At that time, doctors recommend using whole vitamin D milk.
14 Grapes Can Be A Choking Hazard
Grapes pose a huge choking hazard. Whole fruits like grapes, cherries and blueberries shouldn't be given to a baby whole. Grapes can be introduced when the baby is between 8 and 10 months old, but only if they're prepared a certain way.
If your baby won't eat pureed grapes and cherries, you may have to either try another food, or be very intentional about preparing them.
Parenting.com suggests that you only give baby very thinly sliced grapes, not just cut in half lengthwise.
This may seem obvious to some people, but you'd be surprised. I didn't even think about this with my first baby. According to Popsugar, a two-year-old named Jake Jackson was fighting for his life because he put a few grapes in his mouth and began to choke. Thankfully, mom took the proper precautions to save his life.
After having to put her fingers down his throat to move one of the grapes enough for him to get air, an ambulance finally arrived. Sophia Jackson, Jake's mom has made it her mission to make sure that other mamas know the hazard that grapes are, even for a two year old. Make sure grapes are cut lengthwise for babies and toddlers.
13 Avoid Honey Until The Baby Turns 1
Honey might be great for allergies and other natural remedies, but, unfortunately, you should skip introducing honey to your little one for at least one year old. The reasoning is not because the baby can choke or gag on the honey's thickness or stickiness, it's actually a little more concerning.
Honey can cause life-threatening infant botulism. Sadly, of 145 cases of botulism in the United States, about 65% of them are actually infant botulism. Even crazier, 90% of these cases are in infants under 6 months of age. It seems as though some of these cases are clustered together in a certain area of the United States because the soil is more contaminated.
Babies are not prepared to handle the same amount of botulism as adults because their intestines haven't matured enough. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and The World Health Organization recommend that all forms of honey should be avoided until at least 12 months of age. This includes even foods processed or baked with honey.
Also beware of corn syrup and molasses, as these too may contain spores with botulism. Maple syrup, however, goes through a boiling process that kills the spores so I would stick with that.
12 Avoid Foods With Artificial Sweetener
Just like salt, sugar is just an additive used for flavor. It has no nutritional value, and is also addicting. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 12.7 million children ages 2-19 are considered obese. Pediatricians advise waiting until the baby is at least 1 before introducing artificial sweeteners like refined sugars.
One of the most prevalent factors in the diets of obese children and adults is sugar. I have to admit, it is so fun to see little one's reactions to a taste of something sweet like ice cream or cake, but actually feeding sugary foods to your baby is a different story.
There are a few factors that you should consider when you want to give you baby a sugary treat. Too much sugar can suppress your babies immune system. If your baby has any teeth yet, sugar can cause tooth decay. Then, there is the possibility of too much sugar resulting in obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Unlike natural sugars found in fruits, most refined sugars also go through a chemical treatment process that may be harmful to children. Cancer Center that the way your body metabolizes natural sugars in fruit and milk is different than the way it does with artificial sweeteners.
11 Citrus Fruit Can Affect The Baby's Stomach
Even adults have some major reactions to different citrus fruits. Though it may seem odd at first, oranges are very different from other fruits that we initially give to babies. They are acid and pulpy. It's recommended that you don't introduce citrus fruits to the baby until around 12 months.
The risk of introducing citrus fruits to the baby is not due to allergies, but because of the risk of choking, rash and stomach upset due to acidity.
When the fruit metabolizes it produces acid. If your baby has acid reflux especially, citrus fruits and other fruits that are high in acidity, like tomatoes, are definitely foods you'll want to stay away from.
Baby's intestines are mature enough or strong enough to handle the acidity of these fruits. Not only can it affect their stomach, but it can also cause diaper rash and redness and soreness around the mouth, from the acidity. These reactions can happen even if they're not allergic simply because of acidity.
The other risks from eating fruits such as oranges is the risk of choking on the "strings" from the membranes of the fruit. It's difficult for anyone, but especially babies without teeth to gnaw through them.
10 Babies Shouldn't Eat Shellfish
Shellfish will eventually be a healthy part of your child's diet, but it's suggested that you wait until at least 6-12 years of age, and after you have already introduced other solid foods to the babies diet. It's recommended that traditional baby foods are started first, before introducing any fish or seafood.
Like nuts, shellfish is one of the top allergenic foods. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that infants and children shouldn't eat any raw or undercooked shellfish for risk of bacteria. Adult's stomachs are strong enough to handle the bacteria, but infants stomachs aren't developed enough.
The AAP also says that as long as the baby hasn't had any allergic reactions to other foods, and if the baby doesn't have other symptoms like eczema, it's okay to try shellfish. If they have shown signs of allergies, make sure you get the green light from a doctor first.
There is also a choking hazard with certain types of shellfish. The AAP recommends that when the baby is old enough to try fish, using something like pureed crab or lobster. If the baby is able to chew other finger foods, it's probably okay to try things like cut-up shrimp.
9 Salted Foods Have No Nutritional Value
The great thing about a baby's pallet, is that you basically have the opportunity to make it for them. They haven't been exposed to some of the so good, but also really bad food that we love! Take salt, for example, there is no reason to add salt to any of your babies foods, or to even give them any foods that are already high in salt.
Salt has no purpose other than adding flavor. It doesn't have any nutritional value, we all just like the added flavor it gives our food. However, there are several risk factors when adding salt to food, and should be avoided in your babies diet.
Salt, especially in babies, can cause kidney disease, and even failure, and high blood pressure.
We know that salt increases high blood pressure in adults, but the risk of high blood pressure in infants is actually greater than it is in kids.
Salt can also cause kidney failure. Your kidneys are filters of things like sodium and potassium. When there is access sodium in your body, the kidneys can't function correctly. Salt can also lead to dehydration. Salty foods are also low in other nutrients that babies need.
8 Stay Clear Of Gluten
Gluten allergies have become an epidemic. Maybe it's just because we have more knowledge about it or we can narrow it down a little easier today, but about 6% of the population or 18 million people are affected by a gluten allergy in some way. Celiac disease effects 1% of the population and has more than quadrupled in the last decade.
That being said, parents are being extremely cautious about when they start introducing gluten to babies, even if a gluten allergy doesn't run in the family. According to Parents.com, a group of Dutch researchers took a group of 950 infants from seven different countries. These infants were all at higher risk for celiac and a gluten allergy.
The parents of these babies were instructed to begin introducing foods with gluten beginning at 6 months of age. Another group gave 100mg of gluten to their babies beginning at 4 months. At the babies three year checkup, regardless of breastfeeding, the same number of children had developed celiac disease in both groups.
Because there is no definitive research just yet, in the case of gluten, it is better to be safe then sorry. Pediatricians recommend high risk babies steer clear of gluten until 12 months of age.
7 Wait Before Serving Peanut Butter
Peanut butter and nuts are on this list for two different reasons. Peanut butter and nuts should be avoided until around 6 months to one year of age, firstly, because there may be a risk of an allergic reaction, and secondly, because peanut butter is too thick and dense for baby to eat and nuts are a choking hazard to them.
Recommendations for introducing tree nuts, peanuts, and peanut butter have changed with new studies, however, it is still recommended that parents wait until the baby is 6 months to one-year-old to introduce them to babies that are non-allergenic and two years for allergy-prone babies.
Three million people in the United States are allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. It's actually the most common allergy in children. The good news is, recent research from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology found that early introduction to peanuts can help significantly decreases the chances of an allergy developing.
That doesn't mean giving any peanut butter or tree nuts to your baby before 6 months though. Waiting until the baby has been introduced to other solid foods before any kind of nuts or peanut butter is your best bet.
6 Beware Of Mercury
Just like when you're pregnant, certain types of fish that are high in mercury should be avoided. Swordfish, shark, and marlin are three types of the fish that both pregnant women and babies under 12 months of age should avoid.
These three fish are all very slow growing and long living, and therefore have much higher mercury content than others.Mercury is an extremely toxic element in higher quantities. Mercury bio-accumulates in human bodies, which can result in mercury poisoning. This highly toxic metal is especially dangerous in pregnant women, women who may become pregnant, and infants and children because of its ability to damage the central nervous system.
Mercury can affect your babies central nervous system when they are both in and out of the womb.
If you're going to feed your baby fish it's safe to stick with certain other types of shellfish, but, remember, wait until at least 6 months of age.
There are also a few other things to be aware of when feeding baby fish. Remember to make sure that all bones are removed. Be sure to cook it very thoroughly. It's safer to overcook it then undercook it. Avoid the high mercury fish and pick ones with mild flavor.
5 Rice Cereal Can Start At 6 Months
If you have a little one that doesn't sleep you might here from older moms that you just need to put rice cereal in their bottles to get them to sleep. While this may help, you should definitely wait until the baby is at least 4 months. The sleepless nights won't last forever, but baby's stomachs aren't developed enough for solids before then.
The Mayo Clinic says, "By ages 4 months to 6 months, most babies are ready to begin eating solid foods as a complement to breast-feeding or formula-feeding." This includes rice cereal, which is usually the first food given to babies.
The American Academy of Pediatrics goes even further to say in their book “Nutrition: What Every Parent Needs to Know,” each child is different, but before beginning rice cereal, he should be at least four to six months old and have doubled his birth weight to at least 13 pounds.
When your baby is ready, rice cereal is a great first choice! Rice cereal is gentle on their stomach's and contains the iron that they need. Just mix your cereal with breast milk or formula and you're good to go. You can even add a mashed bananas or apples for flavor!
4 Mashed Bananas Are A Great Alternative
Many pediatricians say that babies can start being introduced to mashed bananas as early as 4 months of age, though 6 months is the ideal age to introduce solids. Have you ever heard that bananas are called nature's most perfect food? That's because they contain so many of the nutrients that our bodies need to survive.
There are several reasons why bananas are great for babies, other than their natural sweetness that babies love. Bananas contain potassium which lowers blood pressure. They also work as a natural antacid, which makes them perfect for babies who suffer from acid reflux or other tummy issues. Bananas are easily digested because they contain a substance called mucilaginous bulking substances, which help reduce the mucus in the stomach's lining.
Bananas are also not one of the fruits that are contaminated with pesticides. Wholesome Baby Food states that the EWG does not list bananas as one of the "dirty dozen" or foods that are contaminated with pesticides. In fact, they say that there is no need to purchase organic bananas, but you can as a personal choice.
Bananas are also super convenient when on the go with baby. They are already sealed and they don't need to be washed.
3 Apples Are High In Fibre!
Many times apples are a babies first solid food. The famous saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" may not be completely true, but they will definitely help. Pediatricians say that your baby can be introduced to apples from as young as 4 months to 6 months, though 6 months is the recommended age if you can wait.
Apples have two very valuable types of fiber, both insoluble and soluble fiber. Both of these fibers help to maintain regular bowel movements. Recent research has shown that apples aren't just good for colon health, but also cardiovascular health. They help to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of stroke.
Apples are also low in fat, making their fiber rich nutrients even better. Wholesome Baby Food suggests that they can help with liver, colon and prostate health by inhibiting the growth of cancerous tumors.
Apples aren't quite as convenient as bananas, but not too much preparation is needed. Babies under 8 months of age shouldn't be given apples with peels, so if you are planning to use them as finger foods, be sure to wash them, peel them and dice them small enough that the baby won't choke. You can also boil and mash them.
2 Sweet Potatoes Are Easily Digestable
Sweet potatoes are one of the tastiest vegetables out there and, luckily, they are super nutritious for both babies and adults! This may be another one of babies first foods because they usually love them and they're easy to prepare. It was a first for both of my babies! The delicious taste of sweet potatoes combined with the smoothness make it ideal for one of babies first food!
Sweet potatoes are jam-packed with vitamins and healthy minerals like fiber, calcium, potassium, and Vitamins A, C, E, and K. They are also not found on the list of foods that cause allergies. However, like with any food, just be cautious when feeding it to your baby.
Like carrots, sweet potatoes have high levels of Vitamin A and beta carotene, which makes them perfect for eye health. They actually contain 100% of the daily recommended Vitamin A intake. The Vitamin C in sweet potatoes is great to help boost babies immunity and the high fiber helps them digest easily and avoid constipation.
Sweet potatoes are also high in calories which helps fill baby up faster with a small amount. Sweet potatoes can be given anywhere from 4-6 months, but most pediatricians will recommend starting most solids at 6 months.
1 Carrots Are Great For The Baby
Carrots are loaded with vitamins that are great for your baby! They are also naturally sweet and easy to digest, making them a perfect first food to introduce. Pediatricians recommend feeding carrots to your infant between the ages of 6 to 8 months of age.
One of the most important vitamins that carrots contain is vitamin A, which comes from an element called Beta carotene in the carrots. Carrots also contain Vitamins C, B6 and calcium. Carrots are also rich in fiber and iron.
Though carrots are not one of the "dirty dozen" and are not contaminated with pesticides, they are, unfortunately, said to have some nitrates so certain preparations are needed. If you aren't buying commercial grade pureed carrots and intend to make baby food from them yourself, you will need to pick the carrots with the fewest sprouts at the top. The more sprouts mean the longer they have been sitting there.
Never give an infant chopped or raw carrots as they are a choking hazard and difficult to digest. According to Brown, the author of Baby 411 it's important to wait until 6 months of age to introduce homemade carrot puree. Store bought puree is already tested for nitrates and therefore safe for babies.
References: Parenting.com, Wholesomebabyfood.com, NHS.com, Easybabylife.com, Popsugar.com