Since each child is different, and there are no classes parents can take that will help them 100 percent with their child, all moms and dads are basically... winging it. In the early days with an infant, it’s hard to know up from down, and day from night, thanks to all the sleepless nights.
The first year with a baby is all about the learning curve. The baby learns to adapt to life outside the womb, and the parents learn what life is going to be about with their new baby.
Many parents worry about baby-proofing the house, but the baby isn’t even sitting up yet, let alone walking for many months. Caring for a newborn and an infant is very different than caring for an older child, and because of this there are some specific dos and don’ts that parents should keep in mind to help protect their baby from any danger. These are things that don’t involve baby gates or sharp corners because some items that seem completely benign could be harmful to a baby.
These are 15 things that parents should think twice about giving to their baby before they turn one.
15 Too Much Water
Babies are born at around 78 percent water, by the time they turn one this number drops to around 65 percent, and by adulthood, an average man is around 60 percent water. As adults, we should be drinking around eight to 13 cups of water each day, more if it’s hot outside or we’re exercising. Babies do not need water, period. Baby will get all of the hydration they need to stay healthy from milk, be it breast or formula, even if it’s really hot outside. Giving a baby under six months of age water can impact their ability to properly absorb nutrients. It also may make them feel full, decreasing their appetite. When baby turns six months old you can give a few sips when they’re thirsty, but don’t overdo it. Once the baby is a year and eating solids and drinking whole milk you can break out the water bottles.
14 Hazardous Hot Dogs
A recent study found that hot dogs cause more choking-related injuries and death than any other food item for children under five, so you may want to keep hot dogs, which aren’t particularly good for you anyway, off the menu for longer than the first birthday. Even when these tasty indulgences are cut into small disk shapes they can lead to choking injuries, so even parents who take the time to cut these up, with the best intentions, could still end up with a choking child. Hot dogs, and processed meats have nitrates which are difficult for baby to break down. When you do introduce baby to their first dog be sure to cut the meat lengthwise to avoid any potential choking hazards.
13 Forward Facing Car Seats
Rear-facing car seats are the safest way for a baby to travel by car. While it can be annoying that you can’t see the expression on baby’s face while you’re traveling, there are special mirrors you can buy for only a few dollars to keep tabs on baby while you drive. A recent study shows that parents often switch baby to the front facing car seat before it is safe to do so. In a 2013 child health poll completed by the University of Michigan, parents were asked when they moved their child to a forward facing seat. Twenty-four percent of parents surveyed said that they switched seats before their child’s first birthday, and only 23 percent of parents kept their kids facing rear until their second birthday, which is what is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
12 Uncut Grapes
It’s a parental rite of passage to cut kids grapes in half to make sure they don’t choke. There is a quote in Tina Fey’s book Bossypants on motherhood that resonates with many parents, “When the CM is offered, May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half and stick with Beer.” While many of us have the best intentions when it comes to cutting up our child’s food, most of us don’t do it correctly and they can still easily get stuck in a young child’s throat. Grape skin is thick and can be difficult to break down completely. Think raisins are a good alternative; these dehydrated versions of the real deal are also choking hazards for little ones.
11 Cow's Milk, Soy Milk, Or Almond Milk
Babies' stomachs are not ready to digest any milk that comes from anywhere other than your breast or a carton of formula, period. Milk, whether it's soy, almond, or cow have proteins in them that their bodies are just not capable of digesting properly. The minerals found in these kinds of milk can also be damaging to their developing kidneys, and cow’s milk can cause some infant’s intestines to bleed, which will put them at risk for developing an iron deficiency or anemia. In addition to this, there is a chance that your baby is lactose intolerant, so why take a chance with introducing them to dairy early? Other kinds of nut milk or soy milk could also contain items that your baby is allergic to. Soy is one of the most common foods that cause allergic reactions.
10 Not All Veggies Are Healthy
Veggies are good for you, but some cooked and pureed veggies are just too much for an infant’s digestive systems to take. Vegetables including beets, spinach, collard greens, and lettuce contain nitrate levels that are too high for a baby to process. This is probably one of the many reasons why they don’t have beets or lettuce baby foods in jars for purchase, that and how hard it would be to get the stains out. Small infant’s stomach acids are not strong enough to break down these nitrates and this can block the blood’s capability of transporting oxygen. This can cause something called Blue Baby syndrome which can lead to death. So skip the salads until your kid gets a little older.
9 Tablets As A Pass Time
Wait until baby is older to put on the distraction of the electronic devices, whether it’s the TV, an iPad, or your phone. Most pediatricians recommend parents keep children away from such devices until the baby is at least a year and a half old before letting them watch Dora the Explorer. Recent surveys of parents revealed that over 90 percent of children have already used a mobile device before their first birthday, some as young as four months! Basically, it takes at least 18 months for a baby’s brain to reach the point where anything on the screen can translate to something tangible in their “real world”. Babies need interaction with real people and the real world, not an escape on a screen. Some evidence leads experts to believe that early screen viewing can delay speech, future reading skills, and short-term memory.
8 Peanut Butter And Nuts
Not only are peanuts and nuts a common allergy for as many as 1.4 percent of people in the United States, according to a recent study, they are also a choking hazard. Things like nut butter seem smooth and an unchokable option. However when a young child who is just starting on solid foods tries to eat them, it can be particularly difficult to dislodge them, even when properly using the Heimlich maneuver or other CPR moves, so why take the chance? Bigger foods like seeds and nuts are potential choking hazards because of their size. Many of us don’t realize just how small an infant’s throat is. A 2008 study revealed that sunflower seeds are in the top 10 of choking hazards for kids five and under.
7 No Honey For Your Little Bear
This is one of the very first things that my nurse practitioner warned me about when I started talking about giving my twins solid foods when they turned five months old and began looking at our dinner like it belonged on their plates. Honey seems like a great natural way to sweeten honey for your baby, but it isn’t. Honey is a source of Clostridium botulinum spores, which in a baby’s immature digestive system can multiply and lead to botulism. Symptoms of botulism include weak and floppy movements, trouble sucking, weak crying, and constipation. Infant botulism can cause muscle weakness and difficulty breathing. Try using pureed fruit to sweeten food for your baby instead and check ingredients labels for honey before feeding them to a baby under one.
6 Citrus Fruits And Berries
Fruits are healthy right? Yeah, fruit is a great thing to introduce to your baby, and many love it as an early food because it’s sweet. Consider limiting some fruits to avoid stomach trouble when introducing solid foods. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries have a protein that can be difficult for babies to digest. Citrus fruits are very acidic and can cause enamel damage in addition to rashes. Try introducing fruit one at a time or waiting until after baby turns one if you notice a negative reaction when the baby tries these foods. When babies eat acidic food or any food, make sure you wipe their gums with a washcloth to get rid of any natural sugars or acidity, to protect their teeth.
5 Egg Whites
Eggs are soft and packed with nutrition, but eggs are a very common allergy and should be given to infants with caution. Symptoms to watch for in an allergic reaction can happen anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours after ingesting eggs. Symptoms range from skin rashes, hives, congestion, vomiting, or other digestive issues. Most people don’t know this but the most frequent reactions are caused by eggs whites, so consider separating the whites from the yolks and just feeding the baby the yolks when introducing this food. When you decide to introduce egg whites, do so alone so you will know for sure that the reaction has been caused by the eggs and not something else.
4 The Netflix Login...
As parents, you are the biggest teachers to your baby, and that includes language. While spending a lot of time with babies can be boring, and it can be tempting to catch up on your Netflix binge-watching while baby plays on the floor nearby, try to limit this. Babies learn from interacting with adults, and when one adult is watching TV the communication between baby and their grown-up stops. Research reveals that normally a parent will say just under a thousand words each hour when a young toddler is around. When the television is on, even just as background noise that number falls to around 200-250 words per hour. The less you say, the less baby will learn.
3 Candy And Chocolate
As tempting as it may be to hand a little baby a big serving of chocolate to celebrate Easter, Christmas, or another holiday with the ‘big kids’, it might upset their stomach. Not only is the caffeine in chocolate bad for the baby, their stomachs are not ready to digest the dairy from cow’s milk until they reach a year. As for hard candies like lollipops, just wait until the baby is old enough to brush their teeth as it’s bad for their enamel. Harder chocolates and candies are also a potential choking hazard that you’re best to just avoid altogether. Gum is another ‘big kid’ treat that should only be chewed when a child has back teeth, the coordination to actually chew it, and the restraint not to just swallow, on choke on, a big wad of gum.
2 Fizzy Drinks And Pop
Pop is high in sugar and has zero nutritional value, so why introduce it to a baby just because they’re looking at your Coke Zero with interest. You may think a sip or so is harmless, but think of your future dental bills! Sugar isn’t the only bad guy in the world of pop, the acidity present can also be damaging to baby’s enamel and newly emerging teeth. Pop often contains caffeine which is a stimulant, which will raise blood pressure and heart rates. Got a soda stream you want to use with some fresh fruit for a pop alternative for baby. Wait until after their first birthday to introduce them to the fizz. Like anything else, pop can also ruin baby’s appetite for the nutritious food they actually need.
1 Salty Snacks
There is no need to start a baby on a salty food habit. Infants only require a very minute amount of salt in their diets, less than 1 gram of sodium per day to be exact, until they reach a year because their kidneys can’t handle more salt than this. In addition to being bad for the kidneys, salty chips, crackers, or other processed foods will leave less room for your baby to enjoy all of the foods they really need to grow and thrive. Before baby turns six months old the only salt they need comes from formula or breastmilk. Resist the urge to add salt to food you’re preparing for baby when introducing solids, it may taste bland to you, but little bambino doesn’t know any different.