Foods to avoid giving to an infant
Once you hit the six month mark, it’s recommended to introduce solid foods into your baby’s diet. But which ones are safe and which ones should you altogether avoid? Here are some that may pose a health risk to your child and others which will allow your infant to join the rest of the family for meal time.
Some of the biggest culprits include honey, peanut butter, milk (cow or soy), seeds and nuts, certain fish, excess salt, popcorn, marshmallows, or anything caffeinated.
First off, botulism (in infants) is an illness that occurs when a baby consumes spores of the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, found in honey. These spores may also be present in dust or contaminated soil. The spores that are swallowed start to produce a harmful toxin in the baby’s intestines. The condition is much more likely to occur in infants as their digestive system isn’t fully developed and can lead to complications. Botulism can also occur when contaminated food is eaten, such as at home canned foods. Some common symptoms include muscle weakness (causing difficulty breathing), constipation, trouble feeding, a weak cry, and trouble controlling the head because of muscle weakness.
Next, there are mixed opinions when it comes to introducing peanut butter to your child. One of the main concerns is infants who may have an unknown peanut allergy. Symptoms can vary all the way from developing a rash, eczema, swelling, diarrhea, trouble breathing, and wheezing. Peanut butter can also be a choking hazard as all it takes is one small spoonful to block the windpipe. One safe way to introduce this food is by mixing it with warm water or yogurt to create a puree. Place just a tiny bit on the very end of a spoon and feed it to your child. It is advised to wait about ten to fifteen minutes to see if they have any bad reaction, such as rash or difficulty breathing. This should determine whether or not they will have an allergic reaction to peanut butter.
Third, it is recommended to wait until your child’s first birthday before introducing cow’s ( or soy) milk. Why? Mainly because the nutrition that is in breast milk or formula is not present in cow's milk (iron, vitamin C, etc) and because of allergies. Infants are unable to digest this milk as well, leading to upset stomach and digestive system problems. Including too much salt in your child’s diet can lead to complications, such as upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, elevated blood pressure, kidney damage, seizures (due to too much salt in the blood), heart failure, and can even be fatal if not properly treated.
Some of the biggest choking hazards include marshmallows, grapes, and hotdogs. It is very important to cut foods like grapes and hotdogs into small bite-sized pieces. Marshmallows and popcorn should be avoided altogether as they can easily get stuck in a child’s throat if they are not paying attention to what they are doing.
Lastly, caffeinated drinks like coffee, sodas and teas should be avoided, as they can disrupt your baby’s sleep patterns, cause caffeine dependence, lead to dehydration (caffeine is a diuretic), and an increased heart rate.
Some good examples of foods to introduce to your infant around six months are foods such as cereal, oatmeal, plain unsweetened whole milk yogurt, apples, bananas, avocado, prunes, sweet potatoes, zucchini, chicken, and butternut squash, as long as they are cut up into small bite-size pieces. Offer a very small amount of a new food each time; either a teaspoon or tablespoon will be sufficient. Just because your baby doesn’t like it the first time, doesn’t mean you should give up. Try in a few days, or wait a week. Or you can even blend different foods together like apple and sweet potato, or strawberry banana puree. Have fun creating different flavor combinations.