Starting solids is an exciting time, but knowing what foods to give your baby can be quite stressful. Ensuring they have a healthy and nutritious diet is so important for their wellbeing and development.
We all want to do the best for our families, but between busy lives and a lack of understanding, we can unknowingly be giving our children foods or specific ingredients that are doing them more harm than good.
We are all about living in moderation but when it comes to babies you have to be careful of what is going into their bellies as their digestive system is still developing. But there are also some foods that you should avoid giving your baby, especially in that first year.
Chips, salted crackers or popcorn should not be fed to your baby – this is a pretty obvious one. Their high sodium content gives your baby the false illusion of being full and leaves no space for nutritious food. Popcorn is a choking hazard and should not be given to babies or toddlers.
Sodium shows up in just about everything you pick up on the shelf at the supermarket – from the pre-packaged baby foods to the so-called baby crackers and even yogurts aimed at babies and small children. Flip the packet over and be sure to check the sodium.
Babies under 6 months should have no more than 110mg per day and babies 7-12 months should have no more than 370mg per day.
The same goes for sugar! Sugary lollies, chocolates, cakes and desserts are all wonderful to have as adults but are not advisable for children, specifically babies, who need healthy nourishing food. Sugar is empty calories for your babies with no nutritional benefits; instead, give them a piece of fruit (where they can consume natural sugars) or natural sweeteners.
Again, turn the packet over of anything you are giving to your baby and check how much sugar is in it – you’ll be alarmed at how much sugar is in most of the yogurts, fruit pouches and snacks aimed at little ones. Children under 2 should have very minimal processed sugar in their diet.
3. Soft drinks/fruit juice
Much like sugar, soft drinks and fruit juices are unhealthy for your baby as their high sugar content or caffeine (in some) can cause your baby to become ill, gain weight and experience tooth decay. Regular consumption of sugary drinks can also make it more difficult for you to introduce healthier foods to your baby.
Babies under one year should only consume breastmilk/formula and water and water and milk should remain the primary beverage for toddlers and preschoolers.
4. Fast Food/Processed foods
Processed foods are unhealthy for adults, and the same applies to your baby. Fast and processed foods have high salt and sugar content, additives and chemicals and as mentioned before, they add no nutritional value to your baby’s diet. While it is an easier and more convenient option for us time-poor parents, try and plan ahead and meal prep healthier foods (boiled vegetables, plain chicken, rice) as much as possible.
Honey is often viewed as being healthy, and while it causes no serious harm to adults or young children, it can often be toxic for babies (particularly those who are less than a year old).
Babies consuming honey can contract infant botulism, which results in tiredness, weakness and in extreme cases sometimes be fatal. Once babies are over one, however, honey is a great natural sweetener.
While it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what’s best for your child, and our lives are busier than ever it can be hard to make the best choices all the time. Avoiding these foods in favour of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and wholegrains can help keep your baby healthy and can promote their growth and development.