When a woman is carrying a child, she’s usually pretty concerned with what she’s eating and thinks very little about what her son or daughter will be eating when they start on solids. This is understandable given that babies don’t begin to eat solid foods until they’re at least six months old and often not until closer to one year.
Still, things have changed. Our food supply and the way we eat has changed. In many households, the idyllic family sitting around the table devouring a home-cooked meal is non-existent. Instead, it’s all about squeezing in snacks between soccer matches and dance recitals after a long day of both parents being at work.
Likewise, what is in our food has changed, too. We have to worry about things like genetically modified organisms, pesticides, and additives now. We have to take into account when feeding our child a packaged food whether an allergic response is to the food or the products added to it, such as aspartame, red dye 40, and polysorbate 80.
We have children reacting to foods and developing allergies like never before. It seems that the food we eat has caused an allergy epidemic that never used to exist.
So, when we start considering what to feed our children, we have to take into account not only what to add that is nutritious, but what to abstain from that isn’t, and what to avoid that can be blatantly harmful. While government organizations have released many recommendations for proper eating with infants in mind, research shows that many parents still aren’t following the research. Here’s the chance to.
15 Infant Rice Cereal
Yes, it’s still on the shelves in retail stores and supermarkets. So are Lucky Charms and pancake mix, but no one said they were healthy. Infant rice cereal is known to contain arsenic. That’s reason enough for many parents to stop and say not my baby.
Arsenic is a heavy metal. Like lead or aluminum, it is known to be toxic even in small, more widespread doses. It isn’t one dose of infant cereal that is the harm in this. It’s repeated exposure and the fact that heavy metals like arsenic accumulate in the blood and travel to the brain where they are known to cause abnormalities and brain damage.
Heavy metals are termed neurotoxins for a reason. They are poisonous to the brain.
Aside from being toxic, rice cereal itself is fairly void of any real nutrition. What was nutritious about it was stripped away when it was processed. All nutrition in it as it is bought has been added back synthetically. Read: this is not a whole food. It’s not quality nutrition.
Many parents are tempted to add this to a baby’s diet to help them stay fuller longer or sleep better. This is a bad idea because babies aren’t supposed to stay full for long. They need those hunger cues every few hours because they need more nutrition being delivered every few hours to keep up with their development. Case closed.
14 Fried Foods
Many of us might roll our eyes at this and think who on Earth would feed their infant fried foods? A lot of people. This is America. Just like fried foods tend to go right through an adult’s digestive system, the same can be expected with an infant.
Their body has yet to be exposed to even the simplest of foods. When a food that has been heavily fried in oils and fats makes its way into a baby’s gut, the result can be very painful for them. They are not equipped to digest grease and lard. Parents can expect any number of things to happen from vomiting to extreme gas and bloating to diarrhea.
It might sound like a good idea to let the baby try some fried chicken or even a seemingly milder culprit — the French fry — but the truth is their little digestive system can’t handle that kind of upset just yet. They’ll get there. Practice with softer foods for now that aren’t drenched in carcinogenic trans fats.
13 Cow’s Milk
There are two sides to this coin. First, cow’s milk isn’t actually ever necessary in the human diet. Once upon a time, the USDA — a very profitable industry in America — started a huge marketing campaign that involved food pyramids, celebrities with milk mustaches, and shoving loads of milk into schools everywhere to coax you into believing the miracle drink was a dietary necessity. It’s not.
So, if you’re think you’d rather give your little one hemp milk, almond milk, cashew milk, goat’s milk, camel milk, coconut milk, or even no milk at all, rest assured those are totally safe options that in comparison are actually healthier for the human body than cow’s milk. Goat and camel milk are also more akin to breastmilk than cow’s milk.
In addition, the others are made without bovine growth hormones. Something to think about.
Nonetheless, if cow’s milk is what you fancy, that’s fine too as long as you aren’t serving it up before baby is one-year old. Our little ones don’t possess the enzymes they need to break down dairy proteins until around this age. Introducing it sooner can lead to all sorts of nasty side effects, like a rash, vomiting, reflux and more.
12 Whole Grains
Grains have become a staple of the American diet. They’re everywhere. We don’t feel like a meal is complete without them. Thus, it is only practical that we wouldn’t feel our baby’s meal is complete without them, either. However ideal that may seem in our brains that want to see a portion of grains on the plate, babies don’t need them.
In fact, babies can’t properly digest grains. The rules are loose on this. Some professionals say to wait to introduce them until the molars are fully in — all of the molars. Others say wait until 2-3 years at least. Most of the time it seems that those two things coincide pretty well with one another.
The body requires a hefty dose of pancreatic enzymes known as amylase to break down and digest grains. Babies don’t make enough of this enzyme until at least one year old, but many still don’t until well into their toddler years.
Think feeding grains too soon isn’t harmful? Think again. It can lead to allergies, gut dysbiosis and leaky gut, which predisposes children to a greater risk of developing candida overgrowth of the intestines, bacterial infections and many neurodevelopmental conditions, like autism and ADHD.
11 Large Pieces Of Anything
Sure, this seems like common sense. Don’t give your child anything that isn’t bite-sized, and that means their bite-size. Well, sometimes parents think it’s okay to hand the baby pieces of food to chew on as long as they’re so large that the baby couldn’t possibly fit the food into their mouth whole.
This becomes a problem when the baby suddenly manages to bite through the food and snap off their own large chunk.
The panic and sickened feeling that is brought on by your baby choking is not for the faint of heart. Most parents experience this a time or two with regular feedings. Baby will swallow down the wrong pipe or they might now chew something well enough. Still, there’s a difference between choking on something that is on its way down and choking on something that is too big to move up or down.
This is how serious accidents and death can occur. It might surprise you to know choking is the number one cause of injury and death among kids in the United States. So, it’s not something that can’t happen to you. It’s something that is far less likely to if you don’t hand over anything too large for the baby to swallow should they manage to try.
10 Raw Fruits And Vegetables
Crunchy parents everywhere may be furious at me for this. It’s probably a stretch to say that no baby should have raw vegetables. There are some that are easier to digest, too, like a raw piece of tomato. But harder vegetables, like cruciferous broccoli or cauliflower may be too tough for the baby’s gut to handle.
These veggies are even difficult for some adults to digest. In fact, many people with autoimmune diseases or bowel disorders cannot eat them at all or they’ll pay for it via an intestinal nightmare and chronic inflammation.
In addition, it’s important to take into consideration how soft a raw piece of fruit or vegetable is. For instance, a baby would likely not have as difficult of a time chewing or swallowing a piece of avocado as they would a piece of squash. Making smart choices like this when it comes to a food’s texture can be the choice that saves a child’s life.
9 Hot Dogs
As all-American as they may seem, there are actually plenty of people who won’t touch a hot dog. This likely has more to do with what’s in them than their potential to be a choking hazard, though. But that’s a story for another day.
Hot dogs present one of the most common choking hazards to children of any food in existence. Their log shape may make them fun and handy for picnics and the like, but it also makes them perfect for choking when sliced.
If you’re down with giving hot dogs to your little one, do it in the safest way possible. Slice them first into round coin-shaped pieces. Then, slice them horizontally and vertically into four quarters. It seems like babies in the headlines are choking on hot dogs more than anything else anymore. Keep in mind that these treats come in the shape they’re in to fit accordingly to a specific bun, not to a baby’s mouth.
8 Any Type Of Candy
Yes, this too seems like common sense. If you’ve never seen a parent give their infant candy, you obviously haven’t been around for too many baby’s first Halloweens. Ugh, the struggle is real, folks. We all love seeing the different faces our little ones produce at the first taste of a lemon or a sweet piece of candy.
But wait, what if that candy can cause far more harm than a little bit of high fructose corn syrup? I won’t bore you with how detrimental corn products are to the infant’s digest tract (read: corn is a grain), or how hazardous hard candies can be on baby teeth and a little one’s tooth enamel, but lend some thought to how practical it is to give a child that can’t fully chewy or swallow a food that may slide right down their throat and cause them to choke.
Thick candies, like a peanut butter cup, are equally as worrisome since thick peanut butter can clog the throat and be difficult to dislodge. But more so, hard candies are a major concern and should be avoided. You wouldn’t think anyone needs to tell expectant parents this, but hey, things happen.
7 Grapes And Berries
Grapes and berries aren’t a total no-no, but they come with rules. Much like hot dogs, they are in the perfect shape to be a choking hazard. When appropriate, slicing should be utilized. This may be easier to accomplish with grapes. Slicing them in quarters or wedges is best.
The longer, more slender shape allows them to slide down the throat without blocking it more easily. Whereas, a round, whole grape could become lodged them and block airways.
Berries will vary depending on the type. While smaller berries don’t tend to be as problematic, it’s still a wise choice to slice tiny berries like blueberries in half before feeding them to your little one. Larger berries, such as strawberries, need to be cut up. Strawberries tend to work best when diced.
Lumpy berries like blackberries or raspberries may be more difficult to cut into uniform shapes and sizes, but nonetheless need to be small enough that they could be swallowed without shutting off the air supply.
6 Nuts And Seeds
Nuts and seeds are problematic for babies for a few reasons. Primarily, they are too hard to use as a starter food. Babies need softer foods that they can mash well with their gums and tongue as they learn to use their teeth appropriately. Not only do they fail to recognize that they need to chew nuts more than other foods, but they don’t have the molars to do so effectively, either.
Nuts and seeds can also get trapped in the airway and even cause infections. In addition, nuts and seeds can be inflammatory to the body. They are hard on the digestive tract and can put the baby at risk for intestinal permeability.
For a long time now, doctors have recommended that babies not be exposed to peanuts until after their first birthday. It was thought that this would decrease their risk of developing a peanut allergy. Now, some research is showing that earlier exposure to peanuts is actually what decreases peanut allergies.
However, this research has failed to control for vaccinations — which research has also linked to an increased risk of peanut allergy. For now, the choice is up to parents to make, and it should be an informed one. Nonetheless, don’t feed your child solid nuts before they’re able to chew them up.
Similar to some candies and nut butters, marshmallows are just too thick for a baby. While it might sound like fun to gauge their response to the light and fluffy texture of these treats, it’s not safe. It’s not just the risk of choking and death that comes with unsafe foods.
It’s the risk of choking altogether, which can lead to the need for CPR and the Heimlich maneuver — a procedure that can severely injure a baby and cause anything from broken ribs to internal bleeding.
It also brings with it the risk of brain damage from depriving the brain of oxygen for too long after the airways are cut off. A marshmallow could do this easily. While the shape is telltale of a food that isn’t suitable for babies, the texture is bothersome, too. It’s light enough that some air can circulate through it.
But when a baby is straining for air and gasping, they tend to pull the lodged item further into the airway. Thus, air that does get through works against removal of the corn syrup confection. Skip the marshmallows. There’s plenty of time for that later on.
4 Fruit Juices
This one might come as a surprise to a few people. Alright, calling it dangerous may be out of the ordinary. Fruit juice has become a bit of staple in many homes. It seems like an ideal choice if you don’t want to give milk or want to add some variety to your little one’s diet. However, unless you’re at home squeezing your own oranges, you might want to skip this step altogether.
Store-bought fruit juices have little to no nutritional value. They are loaded with sugar, artificial sweeteners, and food dyes. They contain very little in the way of vitamins to balance this out and make it worth consuming all that excess junk. Babies need nutrition in most every bite or sip they take.
Under one-year old, they should still be getting more of their nutrition from breastmilk or formula. Beyond that, water can be given in lieu of milk in small amounts, but still, fruit juice is unnecessary. Instead, incorporate fresh, whole fruits into their diet.
3 Caffeine Drinks
Should this go without saying? Babies don’t need caffeine. Again, it might seem like common sense, but there are parents out there pouring soda into their children’s bottles and sippy cups. So, here we are. Caffeine is a stimulant. It does more than just wake you up.
It alerts the brain with a molecule known as adenosine that naturally decreases when we prepare for bedtime. Caffeine interferes with this natural process, though. The result is a baby that doesn’t sleep.
It’s also a diuretic. It will make baby pee more and they can actually lose both hydration and nutrition this way. In addition, caffeine accelerates the heartbeat. It increases the baby’s blood pressure. It can cause headaches and an overall irritable moods in adults, and babies are no exception to these same side effects. Sometimes, caffeine induces vomiting and diarrhea, too.
2 Sugar Filled Foods
Who doesn’t love sugar? It can be hard to resist letting baby indulge a little with us. When we have ice cream, we want to share it. They seem so interested in the things we eat. For this reason, many parents will abstain from the same foods they don’t want their baby to grow interested in.
Still, some of us aren’t ready to give up the Ben and Jerry’s. So, for now, you might need to eat it during nap time. Sugar is damaging to infant teeth and their overall health. It infiltrates neurological development and can contribute to hyperactivity. This is true even for babies who haven’t yet begun to crawl or walk. They’ll simply feel restless and may be extra cranky.
Sugar is a powerful stimulant. While a grown man isn’t supposed to have more than 9 teaspoons a day and a grown woman no more than 6 teaspoons, the average adult is consuming around 19 teaspoons per day. Yikes! Reshaping these habits means raising children who don’t follow in those footsteps. Postponing sugar until the baby is older is the first step.
1 Honey And Products That Contain Honey
You might have heard that honey isn’t safe for babies before they turn one-year old. This is true. Honey sometimes contains spores called Clostridium botulinum. This bacterium can cause botulism. While it can certainly happen in anyone, it is much more dangerous to the infant whose immune system has yet to fully mature. Some people think honey can be heated to kill these spores, but that isn’t entirely true. So, it’s best to abstain completely.
For this reason, honey should be avoided in the diet before one-year of age. At that time, choosing a locally-sourced, raw honey is best to meet dietary needs and avoid excess sugar or processing. Store-bought honey is often a synthetic lookalike honey product that tastes similar to it but has no nutritional value. Real honey has many beneficial properties and can be a great addition to the diet once your little one is old enough to safely consume it.
Sources: Science Daily, Authority Nutrition