For many parents, weaning your baby to solids is an exciting milestone but for some, it can be quite a daunting experience.
Through weaning, your baby will be sharing mealtimes with you, exploring new textures and tastes but fear of choking, allergies and not knowing what foods to avoid can be nerve-wracking.
Babies need a wide variety of foods to promote healthy development and naturally, as parents, we want them to try as many foods as possible. However, unbeknownst to many, there are certain foods to avoid as you embark on your peeling, chopping and puréeing adventure.
Regardless of whether you choose to traditionally wean your baby with a spoon or opt for baby-led weaning, here are the foods you should avoid:
Even if it's to treat a cough, never give a baby under one honey. On occasion, honey can contain a spore of a bacterium called clostridium botulinum, which can cause infant botulism. This can be fatal.
A baby's salt requirement is less than 1g (0.4g of sodium) per day which is mostly met through breastmilk or formula. Adding salt to your baby's food can be harmful to their kidneys so it is important to avoid it when cooking your meals. If you're cooking for the whole family, adults can add a little salt to their plate at the dinner table.
It is also important to be mindful when preparing meals of food such as gravies, jars of sauce and stock cubes which can contain high salt content.
Different foods have different risk and nuts (including peanuts) can easily cause choking under the age of five. Your baby's food should be soft enough to squish to avoid choking. Make sure the food you chose is suitable for their age and development stage. Always grate, purée, finely chop or mash your baby's food.
Just like adults, babies are biologically programmed to like sweet things. However, daily sugar intake for a child under one should never exceed 20 grams, that's the equivalent to 5 teaspoons. As a rule of thumb, parents should choose to serve fresh produce and avoid processed foods as much as possible.
Other things to consider:
- Foods like marshmallows and jellies should not be given to a baby, they can easily get lodged in their throat.
- Just like nuts, seeds of all kinds, whole grapes, popcorn and dried fruit pose choking hazards.
- Never give a baby under one shark, swordfish or marlin. The mercury content in these fish are too high and could potentially harm your baby's development.
- And finally, it is not recommended to give your baby solid foods before 17 weeks (4 months) because breast milk or formula is all your baby needs until they are six months old. Introducing solids too early can increase the risk of allergies and obesity in later life. As well as this, their kidneys are not mature enough and their digestive systems are not yet fully developed to handle solid food. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the recommended age to start weaning your baby is from six months onwards.