Introducing a baby to a world of new tastes and flavors is perhaps one of the most enjoyable experiences for parents, but did you know that there are certain foods that may be better for babies when they’re a little older? Many pediatricians and nutritionists recommend that parents hold off on feeding their babies these foods because of possible allergic reactions and potential health risks.
To be on the safe side, consult your pediatrician before feeding your baby these foods:
- Honey – may cause botulism in infants under a year old. Recommended for consumption after 1 year.
- Peanuts – can prompt severe, life-threatening allergic reactions. Recommended anywhere from 6 months to 2 years old, although some pediatricians say that it’s best to wait after 1 year for non-food sensitive or non-allergic children and after 2 or 3 years for children who have food allergies and sensitivities
- Tree nuts – these include walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios, and Brazil nuts. These can be allergenic and may pose a choking hazard to babies, too. Recommended anywhere from 6 months to 2 years old.
- Citrus or acidic fruits – according to pediatricians, these fruits may cause the development of a rash and digestive upset because of their acidity. Adding a dash of lemon or pineapple juice in a fruit puree is not the same as giving a baby sliced or pureed oranges or pineapple. Recommended anywhere from 6 months to12 months.
- Raw strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries – like peanuts, these fruits can cause serious allergic reactions. Recommended anywhere from 6 months to12 months.
- Corn – another possible allergen and not very nutrient-rich. Recommended anywhere from 6 months to 12 months.
- Egg whites – recommended anywhere from 6 months to 12 months. Many pediatricians say that baked goods with whole eggs are safe for older infants.
- Whole milk – lactose and milk proteins may also cause allergic reactions and possible stomach problems because they are difficult to digest. Milk can also affect the absorption of iron, an essential mineral during the first year. Recommended after 1 year.
- Wheat – recommended for consumption after 9 to 10 months or 1 year. Doctors suggest that wheat products can be safely fed to babies who have had no issues with gluten in oats and/or barley and who have no history of wheat or gluten intolerance.
- Grapes – not a likely allergen but may pose a choking hazard, so use extreme caution when feeding grapes to your baby. Recommended after 10 months or 1 year.
- Broccoli – this vegetable may cause gastrointestinal discomfort to your baby, as it’s known to cause gas even in adults.
- Shellfish or crustaceans – recommended anytime from 6 to 12 months, but introduction depends on the baby’s history of food allergies and the family’s history of food allergies as well.
Remember, though, that this list and its accompanying information should not be used as replacement for professional advice from your baby’s pediatrician. It’s always best to consult your pediatrician before introducing new foods to your baby, so you can discuss and determine any foods that your baby may be allergic to.
New views on ‘forbidden’ foods
As of 2012, many guidelines on what babies should and should not eat have changed. Neonatologist and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) Committee on Nutrition Dr. Jatinder Bhatia has said that, ““There is no evidence that the introduction of any sequence of foods is better than any other.”
Due to a 2008 clinical report released by the AAP, entitled Effects of Early Nutritional Interventions on the Development of Atopic Disease in Infants and Children: The Role of Maternal Dietary Restriction, Breastfeeding, Timing of Introduction of Complementary Foods, and Hydrolyzed Formulas, many now believe that there is no need to delay the introduction of foods to any kind to babies.
“Although solid foods should not be introduced before 4 to 6 months of age, there is no current convincing evidence that delaying their introduction beyond this period has a significant protective effect on the development of atopic disease regardless of whether infants are fed cow milk protein formula or human milk. This includes delaying the introduction of foods that are considered to be highly allergic, such as fish, eggs, and foods containing peanut protein,” the report notes.
The report adds that evidence from conflicting studies does not allow for a definitive conclusion on the relationship between the timing of the introduction of foods and the development of atopic disease. Additional studies may be needed to determine the benefits of delaying the introduction of solid foods, as well.
This ambiguity is particularly evident when it comes to peanut consumption in children. In 2009, a study published in the AAP’s Pediatrics journal found that Israeli infants and children tend to have a lower incidence of peanut allergies than babies and children in the UK. One of the strongest reasons cited was that Israeli children had been eating peanuts since they were babies.
“This study demonstrated a strong inverse association between peanut consumption in infancy and the prevalence of PA [Peanut Allergy] in childhood. It is compelling that the early introduction of frequent and high doses of peanut protein in infants may lead to oral tolerance. This article prompts us to question our practices and recommendations in terms of introduction of peanut into our children’s diet and how it may affect their propensity to develop PA.” the study says.
With these conflicting ideas from health authorities, it’s always best to consult your baby’s pediatrician before introducing new foods to your baby’s diet. This ensures that your baby is able to avoid potential health risks.