Introducing solids to your baby is one of the best experiences. Every new food is a new experience and a new facial expression. Discovering your child’s preferences and dislikes is exciting. Some babies love all of the food they’re offered, while others are pickier and prefer only a select assortment of food.
Before you get started on feeding your baby solid food, you need to know the recommendations. As parents, we want to encourage healthy eating from the outset. We also want to make sure that we find out when to introduce solids and what foods are the best choices.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting to introduce solid foods until six months old. Some parents and well-meaning friends will support introduction between the ages of three and four months old. However, evidence shows that giving your child baby food before four months old increasing their risk for obesity, in infancy and early childhood. Also, many children have immature digestion systems. The early introduction can lead to stomach discomfort and constipation issues.
Signs your baby is ready for solid foods:
- Baby can sit in a high chair with head control.
- He opens his mouth when he sees food. He also may watch you eat, reach for your food and seems overly excited to try the food.
- When offering a spoon of solids to your child, he should be able to move it from the spoon to his throat. Try with diluted baby food first. A thicker texture is harder to maneuver in the beginning.
- Infants should have doubled their birth weight before Also, their weight should be more than 13 pounds.
- The child is six months old.
Foods that You Shouldn’t Give your Baby
The AAP does recommend giving your child a wide variety of foods. After you slowly introduce your child to the basics, it can be hard to wait. Typically, it is best to give your child one single food, such as bananas, three days in a row. If there are no reactions, it is safe to move to the next food.
After some time, you will be able to give your baby mixtures and blends of food. There are certain foods that you will want to introduce later in life, typically after your child is over one-year-old.
One of the most important foods to avoid, until your child is one-year-old, is honey. Yes, it is delicious! I love honey, and you probably do as well. Honey is a wholesome, natural food, but it also contains spores of a bacteria called Clostridium botulinum. Until your child is one-year-old, their digestive system is immature, and this bacteria can germinate, leading to botulism.
Older children and adults have a mature system that can process these spores much easier. The microorganisms in our intestines can stop the bacteria from growing. For infants, botulism can be severe and potentially fatal.
Most experts advise parents to avoid all honey for a whole year. You shouldn’t cook or bake with honey if your child consumes any of it. Spores can be difficult to kill. However, you can give your baby cereal that contains honey. Store bought products are heated to a much higher temperature than we can achieve at home.
2. Cow’s Milk
Until your child reaches one year old, he doesn’t need cow’s milk. Breastmilk is specifically designed for our children. It has all the essential nutrients, vitamins, and enzymes that our babies need for their proper growth and development.
It may seem harmless to give your child small amounts before they turn one. However, evidence shows us that early introduction can lead to iron deficiency anemia. Also, introducing the protein in cow’s milk can increase the chance that your baby will develop an allergy to milk proteins. If your family has a history of insulin dependent diabetes, doctors also recommend waiting a full year before giving your child cow’s milk.
If you aren’t able to breastfeed your child, formula is the next best choice. Companies and researchers ensure that formula contains all of the necessary vitamins for our children to flourish their first year of life. There is no need to introduce cow’s milk early. It is hard for their little tummy’s to digest, leading to an upset stomach and potential damage to their kidneys.
You may love the saltiest piece of popcorn or potato chip that you can find. Surprisingly, salt isn’t the best thing for our babies. Kids need only a small amount of salt in their daily diet. Most food that you purchase in the store has added salt that is acting a preservative. It is very easy to give your child TOO much salt.
- Less than 1 gram of salt per day for children under 12 months
- 2 grams of salt per day for children one to three years old
- 3 grams of salt per day for children four to six years old
- 5 grams of salt per day for children seven to ten years old
As you can tell, these amounts are a lot smaller than you would expect! If you are breastfeeding your child, they are receiving all of the necessary salt through the breast milk. Infant formula also has added salt.
Many parents like to make their baby food. It is important to remember not to add any salt to the foods you make for your child. It is hard for their kidneys to process. Check any prepared food that you give your baby, like cereals, because they may contain too much. If you plan to make a meal for everyone in your family, including baby, limit the salt added.
Many parents are surprised to know that nuts and peanuts are no longer on the do not give before one year list. However, nut allergies are very common. Many parents prefer not to give their child any nuts before one year old if there is a family history of allergies.
In 2015, the AAP, along with other groups of experts, officially released a statement that “new research has shown that early introduction of peanuts into the diet of infants at high risk of peanut allergy can play a role in the prevention of peanut allergies.” This information is perfect for parents! Pediatricians now encourage parents to start peanut butter between six and 11 months!
However, the levels of protein in peanut butter is high. So, you want to make sure you give your child the appropriate amount.
There is a huge variety of seafood that you get to introduce to your baby – soon. However, it is important to time these correctly. You can introduce fish, such as sole and salmon, around nine months old. My babies love diced salmon around this age!
However, you should avoid shellfish, like shrimp, clams, and lobster, until the age of 12 months. Shellfish are one of the top foods that cause allergies. As your child ages, their immune system develops, and their risk of reaction decreases. Waiting can be a very wise idea.
If your family has a history of shellfish, or any seafood, allergies, you may want to wait even longer. Some parents prefer to wait until their child is two or three years old before they introduce any time of shellfish to their child. Your pediatrician may be able to run an allergy test on your child.
6. Citrus Foods
Most parents don’t have to worry about their child being allergies to citrus foods, like oranges and lemons. The worry is that they could cause rashes and an upset stomach because of the acidic levels. We don’t mean adding a bit of pineapple juice to baby food. Instead, the concern is giving pureed or diced oranges, pineapple, and even tomatoes.
Unlike bananas, oranges have pulp and strings. Your baby should be old enough to successful chew through these foods before you give it to them. Some adults have trouble with the membrane. Another option, to avoid this problem, is to give canned mandarin oranges instead. They have a thinner layer.
Acidic foods are harsh on a baby’s stomach. You may notice that your child has a diaper rash or redness around their mouth after you give them some. It isn’t an allergy; it is just a simple reaction to the acid. Children with acid reflux should specifically avoid citrus foods. Their symptoms will worsen with consumption.
It seems like we can’t give our baby most of the good stuff! Chocolate is loved by almost every little kid in the world, as well as their parents. An allergy to cacao – the bean that is the main ingredient of chocolate – is rare. Chocolate isn’t on the top list of allergies. However, the chocolate often can contain things like peanut butter or nuts, so parents should read the ingredients.
The most important reason to avoid chocolate is that it contains caffeine and a high sugar content. A few bites of their first birthday cake are expected and won’t lead to detrimental effects. However, parents should also monitor their baby’s intake of chocolate. They should consume mostly nutritional and healthy foods.
8. Deli Meats
Even though adults love to eat a sandwich with deli meat, it isn’t a food recommended for babies. To cure these meats, they are injected with high levels of salt. The amount of sodium is way beyond the recommended amount we discussed above.
Deli meats are heavily processed. They are often pumped with extra preservatives, emulsifiers, and nitrates to give them an increase in flavor and to make sure it lasts longer. Meats are typically introduced to babies around eight months old. While deli meats aren’t an allergy risk, they aren’t a nutritionally healthy choice. You should opt for fresh meat whenever possible.
Obesity is an epidemic in the United States today, along with many parts of the world. When pediatricians advocate for no sugar for babies under one year old, they don’t mean you should refine from giving baby all sweet foods. Nutritious fruits are naturally sweet and fantastic for your child to consume.
Parents need to avoid giving white refined sugar to their babies. Natural sweeteners and naturally sweet foods are okay. Refined sugar is created by a chemical process that isn’t safe for children. All of the extra sugar can lead to tooth decay and cavities. Also, too much sugar in your body can suppress your immune system.
If you want to sweeten your child’s food, add fruit to it! You would be amazed at what you can bake with applesauce. Remember, no honey until one year old. Another option would be date syrup, so long as your child is eight months old.
10. Chunky or Large Foods
The last thing that you should avoid is chunky food. Until your baby is using their pincher grasp and eating finger foods, chunky baby food can lead to choking and gagging. Children will eventually eat larger food, but it needs to be at their pace. Stage three foods, found in the stores, are designed for babies who are older than nine months old and crawling, along with other significant milestones.
When your baby is old enough for finger foods, make sure that you give foods that are easy to pick up and chew. Many companies sell dissolvable finger foods that are perfect for learners. Avoid grapes for some time. Many kids choke on them! Always use good judgment and cut your child’s food into appropriate sizes.
Despite this seemingly long list, there are so many great foods that you can introduce to your child as soon as they reach the milestones. It is up to you whether you want to start with vegetables or fruits. Most children love sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, bananas, and pears. Giving your baby solid foods is so exciting. Always remember these avoidable foods to keep your baby safe and healthy during this fun period of their life!