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Honey No-No: Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Infant

by Sandra Gordon

Breast milk or infant formula will be all your baby needs until he or she is around 6 months old. Then, the mush fest begins. At six months, most babies will be ready to add “solid” food to the menu, which is a process starting with iron-fortified infant cereal followed by pureed and strained fruits, veggies and meats, grains and dairy products. Your pediatrician will give you a list of new foods to try at each well-child visit. Use that as a guide and keep up your infant formula (toddler baby formula) or breastfeeding routine until your baby is a year old, which is when it’s time to introduce cow’s milk. Keep in mind that you can’t feed your baby everything during that first year because some foods are unsafe or just not a good idea to introduce to a baby’s expanding palate. Here’s a list of solids not recommended for infants. They get the red light until your baby is at least one year of age.

  • Salt, seasonings, sugar or corn syrup: If you make your own baby food, don’t spike it with these additives. You want your baby to learn to like food in its natural state and not develop a preference for salt or sweetness. For that reason, avoid feeding your baby high-fat foods, too such as bacon, lunch meat, French fries, and creamed veggies. Ditto for salty and sugary foods, such as pudding, chips, cookies, candy, cakes, and sweetened drinks such as iced tea and soda (pop) unless you want him to develop a taste for them. Stay away from this empty-calorie junk food yourself. Among all your duties—bottle washer, diaper changer, play pal, snack and meal master, the safety police--you can add role model to this list. Your baby is watching what you’re eating and taking mental notes. So be sure so show off your healthy eating habits.

  • Honey: It’s a no-no for the first year because your baby’s digestive tract isn’t developed enough to handle the spores honey naturally contains.

  • Choking hazards: Hot dogs, peanuts and other nuts, seeds, chunks of meat or cheese, raw veggies like carrots, celery, peas and string beans, cooked or raw kernel corn, whole grapes, berries and hard pieces of fruit, melon balls, raisins and other dried fruit, hard, gooey or sticky candies and popcorn. Be careful with these foods when your baby is older too. Hot dogs, for example, are the biggest cause of choking deaths for children under 10. Overall, at least one child dies from choking on food every five days in the U.S. Chop up round, firm foods such as hotdogs, carrots, grapes, cherry or grape tomatoes into bite-size pieces for kids under age 5. Safety experts advise not to give peanuts to kids age 7 or under. Supervise meal times and don’t let your child eat while playing, running, or riding in her car seat, especially if she’s still facing rear ward. You can’t watch her while you’re driving. Teach your child to chew and swallow her food before talking or laughing. Don’t let your youngster chew gum, and make Blow Pops off limits too.

  • Eggs, fish and peanut butter. Ask your baby’s pediatrician before introducing your baby to any of these foods. There’s no evidence that sidestepping those foods during early childhood will avoid food allergies, but to play it safe, get your pediatrician’s take first nonetheless.

  • Unpasteurized orange juice. Because it’s not heat-treated, unpasteurized OJ may contain E coli and other organisms that are dangerous for infants because their immune system isn’t mature. In general, wait to give your baby regular fruit juice until she’s at least 6 months, preferably a year old. But then, go easy. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not giving kids 1 to 6 years old more than 6 ounces of fruit juice per day because it’s loaded with calories and easy to down, which may contribute to weight gain.

  • Homemade baby food from spinach, beets, green beans, squash and carrots. These veggies can be high in nitrates, which is chemical from the soil that can cause a rare type of anemia in infants that could be deadly. If you make your own baby food, stick with peas, corn and sweet potatoes because they’re naturally free of nitrates. Buy the commercially-prepared baby food version of spinach, beets, green beans, squash and carrots because manufacturers screen for nitrates.

About the Author

Sandra Gordon

Sandra Gordon is a consumer products expert, a writer, and a mother of two. She has appeared on NBC's Today Show and as a baby safety expert on The Discovery Health Channel's "Make Room for Baby." A Consumer Reports author, her latest book is Save a Bundle: 50+ Ways to Save Big on Baby Gear.

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