Being a new mom comes with so many challenges and so many “firsts”. It may feel like parents barely have time to catch their breath, and all of a sudden the child is celebrating six months in this world!
As baby grows, so does the list of things they can eat. When it comes to feeding a baby, the information available can be wildly overwhelming. Early on, things are simple and the baby can thrive off mom's milk or formula.
Once solid foods get introduced, things get a little more complicated. There will be lots of voices giving different approaches, and there will be lots of options from which parents can pick. Parents shouldn't forget to take a step back and breathe.
There are different ways for every mom to approach nutrition, and there are certain rules of thumb that can help guide them. For example, all foods given to a baby should be tiny and diced to avoid any type of struggles to swallow. Processed treats like candy, chocolate, and chips should also be left for when the child gets older and has a stronger digestive system.
These rules aside, there are certain foods that should be avoided altogether.
When getting ready to start feeding the baby past breastmilk and formula, here are 20 newborn foods moms should reconsider early on.
20 Apple Cider
Coming in from a cold winter’s day in the snow or an autumn afternoon picking apples, warm apple cider can be the perfect treat. While it’s a soothing practice for adults, it’s a challenging beverage for your baby.
Apple cider falls into the same category as most milk and honey in that it is often available unpasteurized. The pasteurization process typically removes bacteria that would be harmful to a young digestive enzyme. While your digestive system is fully developed and capable of handling unpasteurized products, your baby does not have that same ability.
19 Cow’s Milk
Even though babies are introduced to milk early on through breastfeeding or formula, cow’s milk simply isn’t equivalent. If you’re facing issues with breastfeeding or pumping, formula is an essential alternative because it mimics the same nutrients and essential minerals breast milk provides.
Cow’s milk lacks the nutrients breastmilk and formula can provide early on. If a child consumes cow’s milk before their first birthday, they just aren’t ready to properly digest it. Newborns are not able to break down the enzymes and protein from cow’s milk, which can lead to over-working a child’s kidneys.
18 Green Veggies
Veggies are often too large and chunky for a baby to properly swallow. When introducing any time of vegetable, be sure to dice them into small bits they can easily tackle.
Even though vegetables have nothing but positive benefits for adult bodies, some can pose a problem to young bodies. Spinach, lettuce, and collard greens contain levels of nitrates too high for your baby’s digestive system to fully process. According to Wide Open Eats, their stomach acid isn’t strong enough to break these nitrates down, hindering the blood’s transfer of oxygen throughout the body.
According to First Cry Parenting, vegetables like beets, and fennel also contain high levels of nitrate difficult to digest early on. Try starting your child on vegetables like sweet potatoes or peas.
17 Smoked Meats
It’s not often that vegetables and meats fall into similar categories, but this time they do! Smoked meats and vegetables are both foods moms should reconsider for their newborns, and the reason is surprisingly the same.
According to Wide Open Eats, new studies have shown smoked, cured or barbecued meats contain high levels of nitrates. These high nitrate levels make it difficult for your baby to digest.
Avoiding smoked meats also helps to avoid heavily salted foods and high levels of saturated fats, neither of which are healthy for your baby.
16 Refined Grains
Ensuring your baby has all their nutritional needs being met can be challenging, even exhausting at times. Because of this, it’s important to take advantage of every opportunity you have to provide your baby with the right foods to fuel them.
Refined grains, like white rice, are generally stripped of their natural nutrients during the refining process they go through. This doesn’t mean these foods are a bad choice for your baby, but it does mean you could find some other alternatives to make sure every bite they take includes the nutrients to fuel them and grow them into a strong and healthy baby.
Marshmallows can be a really fun food for children, so it can be tempting to introduce them to your baby for entertainment at meal times. The main issue with marshmallows is their wildly soft and gooey nature. A baby simply hasn’t swallowed as many foods as us, and they’re still learning how to do it. With soft, malleable foods, your baby may not fully swallow the marshmallows and they can easily become stuck.
You can still use marshmallows for entertainment purposes, but they should be left off the menu until your child is further developed.
With such young internal organs, babies can’t process simple food elements the same way we can. Adding table salt to meals may be a common practice for you or your household, but keep in mind a baby’s body isn’t ready for it. In general, we want to focus on keeping foods just as simple as they are for a baby’s stomach to digest.
Avoid adding salt to your baby’s food or even to the cooking water for their meals. Try to avoid food items like gravy or broths that tend to have a high salt content. This also applies to foods that add salt for flavouring like pretzels, crackers, or fast food options. Salt is hard to avoid in everyday life, but doing so for your baby's meals will help them develop strong and healthy kidneys.
But isn’t honey perfectly healthy? Not all foods have to be unhealthy or negative to be bad for a baby. Honey can often contain bacteria that produce toxins in a baby’s intestines that can potentially lead to problems. As adults, our immune systems are more developed and better prepared to combat these types of bacteria. The bacteria has been linked to botulism and muscle paralysis, making it definitely not worth introducing it to a baby.
As a rule of thumb, honey should be avoided until your baby has passed their first birthday.
Getting protein in your child’s belly is extremely important. While breastmilk can carry out the necessary proteins for the first six months, proteins are an essential element of introducing your baby to solid foods.
When your baby is ready for solids, aim to include protein with every meal they have. Unfortunately, not all fish can be an early source of protein for babies.
Fish like tuna, mackerel, and swordfish have high levels of mercury. If looking to introduce fish, try to start with haddock, trout, shrimp or salmon.
11 Soy Milk
As more adults choose to lead a dairy-free life for personal reasons, soy milk has become a more recent topic of discussion with children. A growing trend of building vegan menus for babies as they grow also begs the question of integrating soy milk at an early age.
While breastmilk and formula are perfectly formulated for a baby to rely on exclusively early on, cow’s milk does not provide the same nutrients and minerals. This also applies to dairy milk alternatives like soy milk, almond milk, or coconut milk. The shift to non-dairy based milk may lighten your digestive issues as an adult, but the alternatives are still too difficult for your baby to digest.
Jell-O or any type of jelly cubes are known for being a slippery treat. If you break down the ingredients to these jelly cubes, there is no nutritional value to offer your baby. Jell-O typically contains a high sugar content, something you want to avoid at an early age.
Due to their chunky shape and size mixed with the smooth surface of them, Jell-O cubes are not the safest choice for children.
Other such foods are vegetables that aren’t diced or cooked quite soft enough, whole fruits, meats, or cheese cubes.
9 Citrus Foods
The acidity of citrus foods can be too much for a baby’s early digestive system to handle. Citrus foods often contain high Vitamin C, and despite this being a positive for most adults, it’s a downfall for your child. Vitamin C and acid can upset your baby’s stomach, trigger acid reflux, and generally make for an unhappy baby.
Be sure to read labels fully to make sure these foods aren’t sneaking their way into your child’s foods through pre-packaged foods like bars or beverages. According to First Cry Parenting, an early sign of irritation to these foods can also be diaper rashes.
Wheat falls into the category of major allergens for young children. It’s not uncommon for children to have a wheat allergy until the age of one, and then outgrow it. This means adding wheat to your child’s meal early on can cause problems that could otherwise be avoided entirely. According to Family Education, even waiting until a child reaches three years old can be best.
Wheat is tougher to digest for young babies and also contains the protein gluten, another difficult to digest element for your newborn. If you do choose to incorporate wheat into meals, be sure to watch your child closely to catch a reaction early. Be sure to select the most natural options when it comes to food items like bread to also avoid any added preservatives often associated with wheat or gluten products.
Eggs have been a long-found allergen for young babies. If you are using eggs in your baby’s meals, watch for irritation, rashes, and even early upset tummy. Development of egg allergies early on can cause a lifelong series of struggles, so it’s best to give the baby’s body some time to develop before introducing them.
When you’re ready, eggs can actually offer vitamins, proteins, and minerals important for your child’s body when consumed in moderation. You can also start by introducing just egg yolks first without the whites when your child starts eating solids.
No matter how much you love them, like citrus foods, the acidity in strawberries is just a little too much for your baby’s stomach to handle. It can be an awesome after-school snack for your baby’s older siblings, but unfortunately, your baby’s belly just isn’t ready for it.
A suggested timeframe for strawberries is waiting one year to introduce them. They can also be a common allergen for children, so be sure to keep a close eye on your young one for their first few experiences with the yummy fruit. Some common signs of allergy can be redness, rashes, irritation, or trouble breathing.
5 Saturated Fats
Saturated fats are one of three major fat categories: unsaturated fats, saturated fats, and trans fats. Saturated fats can be found in meat or animal products including butter, cheese, and typical dairy milk. Too many saturated fats can increase the risk of heart disease, and introducing it early on can be harmful to a baby’s growth.
According to KidsHealth.org, coconut oil is high in saturated fat but contains a different structure than saturated fats found in animal products. This makes it a healthier alternative and a great option for cooking your baby’s foods.
Cheese can typically be given to a baby between eight to 10 months of age. Introducing cheese can be decided after a baby has been exposed to other dairy products or as a first. If your child has had no contact with milk proteins or lactose, be sure to monitor them closely when introducing cheese.
Similar to marshmallows, some cheeses come in soft forms which can be more difficult to swallow. These soft cheeses are often a byproduct of unpasteurized milk, and contain harmful bacteria for a baby. According to Wholesome Baby Food, the best cheeses to start with are Cottage cheese, ricotta, cream cheese, processed cheeses and hard cheeses like cheddar and parmesan.
Juice may come from fruits, but it’s not packed with the same powerful nutrients you want your baby consuming. Juices contain added sugars and artificial colouring that don’t serve any nutritional purpose for your baby.
Avoiding juices also means avoiding added sugars that can cause early tooth decay. While it can be argued juice should be avoided entirely for young children, aim to wait at least six months before giving it to them. If your child is asking for juice often, try diluting it with water to reduce the amount of sugar being consumed as well as helping you make the juice last longer!
2 Hot Dogs
Providing micro bite-sized foods for your baby can make many foods more baby-friendly early on. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for hot dogs.
According to Babble and a 2008 study, hot dogs caused more issues with chewing than any other food items for children as old as five years old. Even when sliced into tiny pieces, hot dogs are widely responsible for incidents.
Hot dogs also contain nitrates like many other types of processed meat and can be sometimes impossible for a child’s body to break down.
1 Nuts or Nut Butters
If you’ve gone a lifetime without meeting someone with a nut allergy, you may be the only one. While peanut butter or almond butters can be a fan favourite in the kitchen at home, early introduction can lead to early allergies for your baby.
If anyone in your family has a history of nut allergies, take extra precautions. One option is to wait until a child is even further along than others to introduce nuts, or do so in a setting that makes you more comfortable like at a doctor’s office or with an allergist specialist.
Sources: babble.com, kidshealth.org, parenting.firstcry.com, wholesomebabyfood.com, wideopeneats.com,