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Foods Babies Shouldn’t Eat

There are several foods that can be hazardous to your baby’s health.

Starting your baby on solid foods is an important step in your baby’s development. But what you don’t feed your baby is just as important as what you do feed him. There are many foods you shouldn’t feed your baby because they can cause allergic reactions, botulism, or dangerous bacteria to enter your baby’s system. This is especially important in the first twelve months of a baby’s life because their digestive system cannot protect them from bacteria as it can in an older child.

Below is a list of foods you should avoid serving your child during the first year of life.

Honey, Corn Syrup, and Maple Syrup 

Babies should never be given any of these products because they can contain the Clostridium botulinum bacteria. When babies ingest this, it turns into a toxin that causes botulism. Infant botulism attacks the baby’s nervous system and can result in death.

Raw or Un-Pasteurized Milk

Babies should refrain from cow’s milk entirely for the first year due to allergies and should never drink the raw or un-pasteurized types. This milk contains pathogens, micro-organisms that cause diseases such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa and other organisms. People with weakened immune systems, such as young babies, are at the most risk for developing a serious illness, possibly resulting in death, from pathogens.

Soft Cheeses

The list of cheeses your baby should avoid is feta, brie, camembert, blue veined and Mexican-style cheeses. Soft cheeses, even when refrigerated, can contain the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. This bacterium causes flu-like symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and muscle aches, and can eventually hit the nervous system causing stroke-like symptoms. For young babies’ immune systems, this can be fatal.

Un-Pasteurized Juice

Yes, even juice needs to be pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria. Un-pasteurized juice can contain the bacterium E. coli and Salmonella, among others. About 98% of all juice sold is pasteurized but read the label if you are not sure.

Raw Eggs

Babies and young children should never eat raw eggs or foods prepared with raw eggs. Raw eggs can contain the bacterium Salmonella Enteritidis, which can result in severe vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Always cook eggs until yokes are firm and make sure foods containing eggs are cooked thoroughly.

Egg Whites

Pediatricians prefer you wait to serve cooked egg whites to your baby until after the first year. Allergic reactions to egg whites are very common, so it is best to wait until your child has grown older to introduce them. Cooked yokes that are either scrambled or mashed are fine to serve to your baby.

Citrus Fruits

Oranges, grapefruits, kiwi fruit and other citrus fruits can produce an allergic reaction in babies under 12 months old. Avoid these altogether or consult your pediatrician before trying to add them to your child’s diet.

Wheat and Wheat Products

Refrain from offering your baby foods made with wheat until he is at least eight months old. Wheat can cause allergic reactions, so it is best to wait until baby is older to try it.

Nuts and Peanut Butter

These can also provoke an allergic reaction, so it is best to wait until baby is older to offer them.

Raw Sprouts

The bacteria Salmonella can exist in all forms of sprouts, (alfalfa, clover and radish), even ones that are grown at home. Refrain from serving sprouts, or any foods prepared with sprouts, to your baby.

Pre-Sweetened Foods and Candy 

Sugar-fortified cereals, candy, sweetened juices and sodas are all low in nutrients and high in sugar, an ingredient your child doesn’t need a lot of. Once children are pre-disposed to these sweat foods they will prefer them to the healthier ones. This can also lead to your child being overweight or obese later in life. Skip the sugary foods and give your child foods that are healthier for him. Make sure the juice you serve is 100% fruit juice, not the flavored varieties.

As your baby grows older and his immune system grows stronger you will be able to expand on his diet. For now, keeping baby healthy and happy is the most important thing you can do.

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  1. after all that…..what is the baby actually supposed to eat?potatoes?

  2. Babies under a year old are usually on a diet of breast milk or formula, plus baby foods and baby cereals. There are lots of foods a baby can eat, you just have to be careful until they are a year old as to what you feed them.

  3. Very useful information…We may feed boiled potatoes,carrot,apple. Anyway consulting our pediatrician is best.

  4. Hi,
    In response to your question about alfalfa juice for babies, I have to say that personally I wouldn’t risk giving it to children under age 1 year. Everything that I have read says it is dangerous for pregnant women and young babies to eat alfalfa sprouts, so I would concur that this includes juice.

    It is best to always ask your doctor or pediatrician about foods you think are questionable. Better safe than sorry.

    Hope this helps.

  5. What about orange juice watered down? Does that fall under citrus foods?

  6. Please take my advice NEVER EVER feed your Baby soft boiled eggs!!! even this can lead to allergic reaction even death.

  7. just a question can babies from 8 months 12-21 months eat cakes, mini pancakes, rice cakes, breadsticks, little elefant biskets thank you

  8. can babies as young as 7 months have fruit? what should they b eating?

  9. Hi everyone – thanks for your interest. I appreciate the questions and will try to answer them effectively. Remember – you should always consult your baby’s doctor for health concerns.

    Liz – Safe fruit for babies under 12 months old are apples and pears. I would wait with the oranges, grapefruits, etc., until they are older.

    Chantelle – It should be safe to serve your baby of 12 months plus pancakes, cakes, chewing biscuits, etc. As long as the baby can chew the food safely it should be fine. Ask your doctor if you still are not sure.

    Catalina – I wouldn’t serve a baby under 12 months orange juice even if it is watered down. You should ask your doctor.

    Sorry if some of these answers are late. I was not aware of the questions until today. Happy parenting!

  10. This season is my 10-month-old nephew’s first Christmas. Do you think it would be safe to allow him to try a homemade plain gingerbread man for a treat? They’re not very sweet, but I was concerned about the molassas, ginger, clove, and cinnamon that are in them.

  11. Hi Heather,
    Sorry I didn’t get to your answer in time for the holidays. To be on the safe side, I would wait a while longer before feeding a child a food with all of those ingredients in it. Always check with the baby’s doctor before feeding him questionable food. Hope you had a nice holiday!

  12. I am an avid reader of food dos and don’ts for young children, particularlly since my son is allergic to egg whites and my daughter was intolerant of dairy until after 18 mo. I loved the Super Baby Food book by Ruth Yaron as a invaluable basic resource. It will give you lots of ideas of when and what you can introduce to your infant and toddler, even if you don’t make the food your self. You may need to overlook her vegatarian bias if you like meat but there is so much that will be helpful to you from the book – use what helps you. (As always check with your Pediatrician for updated reccommendations) One of the most valuable things I learned from the book was how easy it was to make my own baby veggies. My kids (now 3.5 and almost 2)love almost every green veggie there is, including asparagus and brussel sprouts, because I introduced it as soon as I could according to her chart and continued to try a food here and there even if they didn’t like it the first few times. It took my daughter a few months before all of a sudden brussel sprouts became her favorite veggie. IF you haven’t noticed the only green veggies you can get in a baby food jar are peas (which can be a digestive sensitivity for those who can’t tolerate soy) and green beans which have little nutrients compared to spinach, apsaragus, broccoli and others. So focus on what you can give your child so they learn to like the healthy stuff. Besides if you wait til they are six months for solid food and introduce a new food only once a week you won’t have any trouble getting to one year old on what they can eat. And continue to be dilegent about expanding their healthy food options once they are over 1 year. Somewhere I read they are pretty willing to try anything again and again at least one a feed before they are 2 but then after that you may have some regression and more of an opinion to deal with from your toddlers. I did find this true with my son, who is older. He used to eat everything, no is alittle more picky and unpredicable. One day he may eat something and the next day he won’t. But overall he still eats more then other kids I know whose parents stuck to Gerber or what ever the whole time.

  13. Robin,
    Thanks for sharing. Very useful information on a subject that is very popular with new parents.

  14. hi my son is nearly a year old just wondering what kind of foods he can have that are safe for him and what foods that arent safe thanks.

  15. um, isn’t that what this whole page is about?

  16. Hi Corrine,

    As long as your son isn’t allergic to any foods then you should be able to start giving your son some of the same foods that you eat. As when your child was first beginning to eat, start a new food one at a time so in case he is allergic you can identify the food easily. Always speak with your child’s doctor if you aren’t sure about certain foods.
    Thanks for reading!
    Deanna

  17. is it safe to flavor a pacifier with sugar?

  18. hello i work at a nursery and there is a big disagreement about giving children eggs under 1..in like quiches or scrambled eggs..also things like rice?anybody help me out please?

  19. In response to the question about flavoring a pacifier with sugar, my opinion is that this is not a good habit to get into because it can cause damage to the baby\’s teeth. The longer you can go without giving a child sugar, the better for their health. You should always talk to your baby\’s doctor for any health related questions that you have.
    Thanks for reading.

  20. In response to Lilly on the egg thing…as long as there aren’t any whites in the items that you make with eggs, it should be fine. The protein in the egg is found in the whites, which the digestive system of an infant can not handle. So as long as you separate your eggs, you should be A-OK.

  21. It says that babies aren’t supposed to have sprouts – do steamed Brussel sprouts count? was wondering if he could eat them.

  22. Hi Samantha,
    Thanks for visiting. Sorry it took so long for me to answer. The article is basically talking about raw sprouts, but I found a link from a dietician that suggests not giving brussel sprouts because they can cause gas in babies. Here’s the link: http://www.dietitian.com/infants.html

    Thanks to everyone who has visited and commented. Your interest in this subject has been amazing. :)

  23. Hey Everyone!!!!!!!!!! I need help!I have this grandmother whos VERY hardheaded!she doesnt listen to me about giving my 8 month old sister certain foods!PLEASE HELP!!!!

  24. Hi Destinee,

    If you can put together some facts on what happens when babies are given certain foods, maybe this could sway your grandmother. This article explains why certain foods are dangerous to infants under one year. I know how hard it is to change people\’s minds though if they gave their own children certain foods and their babies were fine. Try talking to her with the facts and see if it helps. Good luck.

  25. Hi Jim,

    In case you haven’t already gotten a response,
    giving a baby sugar on a pacifier will rot out any teeth they may have and sugar will cause them to crave it. Babies who haven’t had sugar are not likely to reach for candies and foods that aren’t good for you. Sugar can suppress your immune system, and make it easier for kids to get colds.

    Flavoring a pacifier with sugar isn’t a great idea, because it doesn’t give any benefits to the child, but it does have detriments.

  26. How safe is it to add herbs to infant formula water? The herbs are cinnamon sticks, star anise, anise seed, dried oregano leaves, camomile flowers, whole allspice, and whole clove. The quantity is about a 1/2 teaspoon each (or 2 clove sticks) to a gallon of distilled wter. It is cooked until it turns a deep color. This is an old Dominican Republic recipe. Baby is still under 6 months old.

  27. Hi i understand that babies cant eat some things, but in one comment it says that babies have baby rice, cereal and baby food tins until the age of one, i get the rice and the cereal but my health visitor said its better to cook fresh food for my child than to feed tins as fresh has more iron calcuim etc and she also said that it is fine to use fresh whole milk in cooking etc, so which information is right? as i have been feeding my son (not 9 months) fresh food from the age of 5 months as hes never taken milk right, and he has turned out fine and is a really good weight. i also give him yogurts which is fresh milk which he loves and my health visitor said this is good as it counts towards his daily milk? Thanks

  28. i feed my 7 month old – strawberries, apples, pears, peaches, plums, blueberries, and tried avocado but she did not like :) and i will mix the ice cubes to make new flavours for my little girl, (i make all her baby food)

  29. NO CITRUS!! Boys are more likely to have a reaction to them, but not worth the risk. Also citrus contains citric acid (which is what causes the reaction), and this is extremely bad for tooth enamel. If you give you baby oj, even if it is watered down expect there to be tooth damage in their future. Just sayin…

  30. This really helped! Thanks for all the posts

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