Are you choosing the right foods for your baby?
Good eating habits should start at this stage to help set healthy eating patterns later in life. Health aside, safety will be another best reason for you to be extra careful about what you are putting into your baby’s mouth.
Shellfish has a favorable nutritional profile but it is best to not serve your baby raw or undercooked shellfish, such as clams, oysters, and mussels. This is because raw shellfish can increase the risk of food poisoning. Shellfish from contaminated water can contain dangerous pathogens and marine contaminants including some heavy metals and toxins that may be fatal to your babies. Even if the shellfish is well cooked, you may want to seek a doctor’s advice and do allergy testing to find out whether your baby has a shellfish allergy before you start introducing them in his/her meals.
Raw Jelly Cubes
Avoid feeding babies or even young children with raw jelly cubes as they can pose a choking risk to the child. Tragedies happened before, where the child died after choking on jelly cubes – so it is crucial for parents and caregivers to recognize them as choking hazards and take necessary precautions. Always think of the shape, size, consistency, and combinations of these when choosing foods for your child for his/her safety.
Whole nuts can be another choking hazard and should not be given to children below 5 years old as they can be dangerous when your baby does not chew well on them. For your child to enjoy the health benefits brought by the nutritious nuts in a safe manner, you can choose to crush and ground them or give thinly spread smooth nut butter to your child. If there's a history of food allergies in your family, it will be good for you to talk to your doctor before feeding nuts to your baby.
Foods High in Salt
Eating much salt does nothing good for your baby’s kidneys. Watch out for food high in sodium, especially ultra-processed foods such as bacon, sausages, crackers, crisps, and ready meals.
Even store-bought packaged toddler foods can be high in salt, so always check the nutrition facts before purchasing. Besides, choose your takeaways wisely and avoid using stock cubes in your cooking when they are to be given to your baby.
Occasionally, Clostridium bacteria is found in honey and it can produce toxins in a baby's intestines. This will cause infant botulism - a serious type of food poisoning. Therefore, do not give your child honey or any food that contains honey until they're over 12 months old. When the kids get older, honey becomes safe for them as their digestive systems are now matured. On a side note, young children should also avoid sugar to prevent tooth decay – not just honey, in this case, sugary snacks and drinks will be a bigger NO.
Caffeine should be avoided for kids younger than the age of 2 and you’ll be surprised to know that in fact, many products contain caffeine - soft drinks, tea, coffee, energy drinks, coffee-flavored foods, even some snack foods like gummy candy and peanut butter. For young children, there is no established safe limit for caffeine and thus it is important for you to read food and drink labels before getting them for your child.
Written By: Yong Ke Tian
BSc Hons Nutrition
University of Nottingham Malaysia
Reviewed by: Jasmine Lim
Love Earth Organic Nutritionist
Bachelor of Science Degree in
Dietetics (major) & Food Science (minor)
Iowa State University, USA