A varied diet will help your baby’s growth and development, but keep him safe by avoiding these potential problem foods
As your baby approaches her first birthday, there are very few foods that you can’t safely give her. A healthy diet is a varied diet, so try to include as many different tastes and textures as you can. If your baby hasn’t yet had an allergic reaction to a food, it’s unlikely that she will now, so if you’ve been avoiding certain foods because of the risk of allergies, try to introduce them at this point. There are, however, a few foods that still shouldn’t be given:
Although you can use full-fat cow’s milk in cooking and on your baby’s cereal, don’t offer it as a drink until 12 months: unlike formula and breastmilk, it’s too low in calories and vitamins to meet your growing baby’s needs.
Although hard cheeses (like cheddar and edam), cream cheese and cottage cheese are safe for your baby and a great source of calcium, don’t give soft, unpasteurised or blue cheeses in the first year due to risk of listeria – a form of food poisoning.
Well-cooked eggs like hard-boiled eggs and firm omelettes are fine at this stage, but raw or undercooked eggs – for example poached, soft-boiled and lightly scrambled eggs – shouldn’t be given until your baby is 12 months old to avoid the risk of food poisoning.
Nuts can pose a choking hazard for young children, so don’t give your child whole or chopped nuts until the age of five. Seeds, nut butters or ground nuts are generally considered safe for babies, but if you have a history of food allergy, hay fever, eczema or asthma in your family, you may want to avoid them until your child is three.
Pates, including vegetable pates, should be avoided for babies under 12 months old, as they may contain listeria bacteria which can lead to food poisoning.
Honey is considered dangerous for babies under a year old, as it may contain bacteria that can cause a rare but potentially dangerous strain of food poisoning known as infant botulism.
Children’s teeth are soft and prone to decay, so avoid adding sugar to food; this will also help to prevent your baby from developing an overly sweet tooth. Steer away from high sugar bought foods, too: biscuits, cakes, sauces like tomato ketchup, fruit juices and squash and sweetened cereals are ones to watch.
Babies’ kidneys are too immature to process salt and it can also contribute to dehydration, so never add salt to food for your child. Before 12 months, you also need to avoid salty processed foods like adult ready meals, readymade pasta sauces, processed meat like sausages and ham and tinned vegetables that are canned in salted water.
Babies need a diet that’s high in energy, and they can’t get the calories they need from low fat and low calorie foods. Many diet products also contain artificial sweeteners and flavourings, some of which have been linked to health and behavioural issues in children.
Foods that naturally contain fibre, such as fruit and veg, are good for your baby, but avoid giving very high fibre foods like bran, brown pasta and rice and wholemeal bread. These bulky foods fill little tummies up too quickly, spoiling your baby’s appetite for other foods, and can also prevent important nutrients being absorbed.
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