Choosing the right baby foods for your baby can be a little complicated. In addition to choosing foods that are easy to digest, you also need to be on the lookout for potential allergens and some foods that are just downright dangerous. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to clear up the mystery of which foods baby can have early on, and which you should wait to offer until baby is a little older.
Introduction of Allergenic Foods
Some foods are known to carry a higher risk of an allergic reaction than others. Many of these foods are also more likely to result in a serious allergic reaction, rather than a mild one. Until recently, new parents were advised to delay the introduction of such highly allergenic foods as strawberries, eggs, peanuts and peanut butter in all children to avoid potentially serious allergic reactions. Recently, however, the AAP has changed their stance on this based on the new research. There is no indication that delaying allergenic foods has any impact on allergic reactions. Introducing these foods earlier may in fact be beneficial to babies.
There are exceptions to every rule, including every feeding rule. If there is a history of severe food allergies in your immediate family, especially yourself, your spouse or a sibling of the baby, it’s still a good idea to wait on potential allergens. Talk to your baby’s doctor about when to introduce these foods and how to do it safely.
Unless you have reason to be concerned, however, most children can be safely introduced to allergenic foods right along with other foods.
The AAP recommends that you wait to introduce your baby to cow’s milk until after one year of age. There are a few reasons for this, but they are mostly related to nutrition and your baby’s immature digestive system. The balance of nutrients in cow’s milk does not meet your baby’s needs in some areas, and may exceed them in other areas. The protein in cow’s milk is very difficult for a baby’s digestive system to handle. Cow’s milk also blocks the absorption of iron in the system which can lead to anemia. It can cause widespread problems throughout your baby’s system.
After one year of age, as your baby weans off of breast milk or formula, it is ok to start giving cow’s milk. Stick to whole milk, which provides the fat your baby needs for proper development.
Other dairy products, such as yogurt and cheese, are ok to serve to baby prior to turning one. Because they are processed and broken down, they won’t cause the same problems as drinking milk can.
Although a great natural sweetener that has been proven to have numerous health benefits, honey is unsafe for children under one year of age. It can contain botulism spores, which are generally harmless to older people, but can make a baby very sick and even be lethal.
After one year of age, it’s safe to start giving your baby honey as a sweetener or a very effective cough medicine.
If you are ever in doubt about the safety of a food for your baby, it’s best to check with your pediatrician before you try it. As babies have underdeveloped digestive and immune systems, things that don’t affect adults can make them very sick. Better safe than sorry is always the best rule of thumb.