As parents, you always want to feed your babies the best foods possible. While we know a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, and protein is ideal, there are a lot of other foods out there marketed as a baby and kid food that may actually be causing more harm than good. Foods that historically have been given to young babies such as juice and hot dogs are actually quite dangerous. From cereal to the barbecue grill, here are some of the most unsafe foods for babies.
Rice cereal was traditionally one of the most go-to first foods for babies. While texturally it’s easy to digest and mild in flavor, it’s actually loaded with arsenic and there are plenty of other more nutritious foods out there. A study from JAMA Pediatrics shows that rice cereal increases your child’s potential risk for arsenic exposure. If you’re looking for smooth, creamy baby cereal, try oatmeal instead. You should also never fill a baby’s bottle with rice cereal. Sorry grandma, this won’t make them sleep longer and it could actually increase your child’s risk of choking. Avocados or bananas make great first foods because they are easy to mash without any cooking. A little goes a long way with both of these and they have a nice creamy texture.
Honey is a wonderful, natural food that has several health benefits. Although this natural sweetener is great for countless uses, baby food isn’t one of them. Babies younger than one year old shouldn’t consume honey due to the increased risk of botulism. This serious condition is rare but it can cause muscle weakness, breathing problems, and even death.
You may think that your young baby may want something to drink other than milk. Rest assured that your newborn baby isn’t wondering what other flavored liquids are available on the menu. They don’t know what juice is and it has zero nutritional benefits. Due to the amount of sugar in juice, giving juice to babies will just increase their risks of tooth decay, obesity, and more. Skip the juice and stick with breast milk, formula, or water for older babies, toddlers, and kids.
This may surprise you but babies don’t actually need water. In fact, giving too much water to a small baby can be very harmful. Giving a baby younger than six months old water can cause stress on their tiny kidneys. This could lead to water intoxication which can cause their bodies to release too much sodium leading to brain defects and even death. Older babies can definitely have water with meals but keep it limited and stick to breast milk or formula for the first year so that they don’t fill up on water. Breast milk is actually made up of 88% water so even when it’s really hot outside, as long as you feed your baby often and they are able to nurse on demand, there is no need to give a newborn or young infant water.
Many of us grew up on hot dogs. Even young babies are offered hot dogs because they seem kid-friendly and are traditionally known as classic children’s food. Hot dogs for kids under three years old, however, can be a choking hazard. Hot dogs are the perfect size to get lodged in a young child’s throat. This makes hot dogs potentially very unsafe food for babies. Aside from choking, hot dogs are filled with sodium and nitrates. Fish or chicken is a much better source of protein, so offer those up before hot dogs at your next BBQ.
You should never feed a baby younger than one cow’s milk. Your infant only needs breast milk or formula for the first year. Your tiny baby can’t digest cow’s milk properly and it can cause their kidney distress. It also lacks important nutrients that your baby needs. After your child’s first birthday, you can start to introduce whole milk to give them higher fat concentrations and to help them absorb vitamin A and D. Stick with whole milk from age one to two unless told otherwise by your child’s doctor. Lower fat varieties don’t offer enough of the healthy fats your baby needs. Speak with your pediatrician about any allergy concerns you have regarding dairy or if you notice any signs of an intolerance.
Popcorn is one of the most unsafe foods for babies. You have likely gotten a popcorn kernel stuck in your throat before and it’s not a pleasant experience. If a small baby gets a kernel stuck in their airway it can be quite serious. Children younger than four years old should avoid popcorn all together. Crackers, raisins or fruit are a much safer snack choice for toddlers and young children.
When it comes to feeding your baby, just remember than breastmilk or formula is all your baby actually needs for their entire first year. So don’t stress too much about how much solid food your baby is taking in. From six months on, start by introducing a new food every couple of days to see if there are any allergic reactions and go easy on yourself and baby. To start, you just want your baby to get used to flavors and taking food from a spoon. As you get more comfortable, let them pick up foods so they learn how to chew even without teeth, Let your baby try new foods often, offer them all of the food groups, and avoid anything that’s full of sugar. Natural foods are great options over canned baby food and enjoy this new chapter with your little one.