Foods to avoid while introducing solid food in your baby’s diet
As far as your baby’s nutritional needs are concerned, there is nothing like breast milk to satisfy them, for the first 6 months of his or her life. However, once he or she becomes 6 months of age, you will need to supplement the breast milk with other food items, for wholesome nutrition. If you know that your baby is ready for solid foods but struggling with a lot of questions as what to give and what not to give, here are the main things you may want to think about.
Baby-led feeding? Do you think it is right for your baby?
As your baby grows, he/she will be able to pick up the food he or she want to eat and keep it in their mouth. This refers to baby-led feeding, which does not mean that the baby should be taken off breastfeeding. When your baby starts eating complementary foods on his own, you should still continue breast-feeding but this will not be the only meal. Initially, the amount of foods that a child will eat will be very less so the bulk of the calories will still come from milk but as the baby grows this reverses. He will start getting the bulk of his calories from solid foods with breast milk providing mostly micronutrients and biologically important molecules. Giving a broad range of different types of foods along with breast milk will help set the stage for a life time of healthy eating.
Complementary feeding led by the baby is not recommended for all babies. Premature babies may be ready for solid foods, but it is important to assess their motor skills and their ability to swallow solid foods first. Some babies may have health problems like respiratory conditions that can affect their ability to swallow solid foods. Hence, it is best to consult your paediatrician.
Things to keep in mind while feeding
As you start on solids, don’t worry too much on the amount they are eating. It is important to get them used to the different flavours and tastes. You can slowly set the stage so that your child is exposed to different flavours and then increase the amount periodically. This is a good time to even introduce bitter flavours; something that not even adults like.
Always cool hot food and taste it before giving to your child. If you are microwaving your child’s food before serving, make sure you stir it around to ensure that all the hot spots are removed. Microwaves tend to heat food unevenly and there might be areas in the food (especially if it is something like a khichdi or porridge) that might be superhot.
Foods to avoid during complementary feeding
While feeding complementary foods, the following aspects should be considered:
- Salt: Babies should not be given salt with food, or foods that contain salt, as it may affect their kidneys. Salty foods such as sausages, potato chips with added salt, pickles etc. should be avoided. Avoid flavouring foods with flavour cubes and powders that are available in the market. These contain a host of preservatives (anti-caking agents etc) and salt.
- Sugar: Sugary snacks like cakes, soft chocolates, sugar wafers and drinks such as fruit juices and soft drinks should be avoided, to prevent tooth decay. Some soft drinks also contain caffeine which can be harmful to the developing brain. If you are giving your child porridges and want to sweeten it, you can do so with a bit of jiggery.
- Cookies and biscuits: It is very convenient to carry biscuits and cookies and break a piece or two to give a hungry wailing baby. However, this should be avoided as these contain a lot of preservatives and sugars.
- Saturated fats and fried foods: Foods containing saturated fat like wafers, biscuits, and cakes should be avoided Nutrition labels on the packs can guide you with the fat content.
- Honey: Avoid honey as it may cause infant botulism. Honey may cause tooth decay as well.
- Whole nuts: All nuts, including whole nuts and peanuts, should be avoided. They may cause airway obstruction and choking. Crushed nuts or peanut butter can be given from around 6 months.
- Cheese: Avoid mould-ripened soft cheeses as they may contain listeria bacteria. Babies can consume hard cheeses like mild cheddar cheese, from 6 months onwards, as these are pasteurized.
- Milk supplements or health food drinks: There are a lot of supplements in powder form that are available which are supposed to be added to milk and provided to the child. These are designed for children above 2 years of age. These should never be added to milk especially if the child is being bottle fed.
- Cow’s Milk: Cow’s milk should never be given to children under the age of 1. Cow’s milk may cause intestinal bleeding in the young child and hence is avoided. Flavoured milks available now in the market should also be avoided.
- Eggs: Babies can also have eggs from 6 months onwards. Raw eggs and items made with uncooked eggs should be avoided though.
- Raw fruits and vegetables: Wash and peel fruits and raw vegetables. If your child does not teeth, it is better not to give raw fruits and vegetables. Never give fruits or vegetables that may have stones or pips inside (like oranges, mosambi and watermelon). Always remove these and then feed.
- Raw shellfish: There is a risk of food poisoning associated with raw or partly cooked shellfish like mussels, clams, and oysters.