To Feed or Not to Feed


One of the most important milestones in the baby’s first year is starting to eat solid foods. You can start introducing solid foods along with breastmilk or formula once your 4–6 months old baby shows signs that s/he is ready for solid foods. Most infants should start with pureed vegetables or fruits; usually most vegetables and fruits do not cause allergies, but you have to offer one type at a time and wait at least 2-3 days to observe any signs of allergy, such as diarrhea, rash, or vomiting. When you introduce different types of vegetable and fruits with no signs of allergy, you can mix them together, in order to offer different flavors to your baby.

Parents have to keep in mind a list of foods that should be avoided before their baby turns one year old:

  1. Cow Milk and Dairy Products

Many parents wonder when they can introduce cow milk and dairy products to their babies. In comparison to breastmilk, cow milk does not have all the nutrients present in breastmilk, which are essential for the baby’s growth and development during his/her first year. Moreover, cow’s milk contains proteins that cannot be digested by the baby’s digestive system, in addition to minerals that can damage the baby’s still-developing kidneys. Some babies also cannot tolerate the lactose in the cow’s milk and other dairy products. However, cow milk can be introduced in some cooking recipes.

While cow’s milk is not recommended before the baby’s first birthday, new studies suggest introducing processed dairy products, such as plain natural yogurt and full fat cheese, from 6 months of age, which means that by the time your baby is one s/he will be ready to accept whole cow milk. If you decide to offer your baby yogurt, make sure that it is full fat, which is essential for healthy brain development.

  1. Honey

Despite its sweet taste and most babies would love it, parents should avoid feeding their infants under the age of one any form of honey; whether raw, baked, or cooked. Honey may contain the spores of the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, which secrete toxins causing botulism; a rare and potentially fatal illness that usually affects infants under the age of one. At this age, the infant’s digestive system is not mature enough to fight off this type of bacteria. Signs of infant botulism can include muscle weakness, poor breast milk sucking, a weak cry, constipation, and even paralysis.

  1. Salt and Sugar

Infants need a very little amount of salt daily until they are twelve months old; they usually get their sodium needs from breastmilk or formula. There is no need to add salt to the baby’s food as your baby’s kidneys cannot process high amounts of salt at this stage. Even after the first year, it is recommended not to add too much salt in the food. According to researches, excessive intake of salt in childhood has been related to diseases in the future, such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, and respiratory illnesses.

Parents also have to avoid sugar, as it is refined through many chemical processes, which may be harmful to children. Excess intake of sugar may cause tooth decay in children and may decrease immunity. Research suggests that children eating a lot of sugar and candies are prone to suffer from diabetes and obesity in their adulthood. Instead, you can sweeten the baby’s food by adding natural sweeteners, such as fruits and honey, but after the first year.

  1. Peanuts

Usually, it is recommended not to introduce whole peanuts and nuts generally to children under the age of five to avoid the risk of choking. Even peanut butter is not recommended in the baby’s first year due to its allergic reaction. Peanut allergy is very common and often occurs in the first years of life. Most children overcome allergies to other foods when they grow up; however, most kids do not outgrow peanut allergy. The peanut allergic reaction can range from a minor irritation to a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis.

Recently, there are new guidelines on the introduction of allergenic foods, such as egg whites and whole nuts. Previously, experts thought that the best way to avoid food allergy was to avoid allergenic foods in the baby’s first year, then introduce them later on. Recently, new researches showed that early introduction and regular feeding of some allergenic food, such as peanuts, prevented the development of allergy in infants who are prone to food allergy. Some parents and doctors still prefer to be on the safe side and decide to follow the old guidelines.


Cover photo Source.

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