Unsafe Foods for Baby
As children begin to try their first foods, it is important to be aware of several types of food that should be avoided during the first year (and sometimes beyond) because of their potential to cause choking, allergic reactions, or infection.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), choking is a very common cause of accidental injury or death in children under age one. Food is responsible for most choking incidents, so it is important to avoid the following types of foods during the first year of a child’s life:
Solid Food for Infants up to 4-6 Months. The AAP recommends feeding babies only breast milk or formula for the first six months.
Solid Food for Infants 6-9 Months
From Around 9 Months
Some foods are more likely than others to cause choking. Your baby is too young for foods that are hard, chunky or need to be chewed. Save these foods until your baby is three or four years old. Then there will be less danger of choking
Large Chunks of Food. Pea-size pieces of food are safest since they will not get stuck in your child’s throat. Hard vegetables like carrots and green beans should be cooked, and then cut up. Fruits like grapes and cherry tomatoes should be cut into quarters. Avoid chunks of apple or cookies. Meats and cheeses should be cut into very small pieces or shredded.
Small, Hard Foods. Do not feed your child small, hard foods
Round, Firm Foods. Foods like hot dogs and carrot sticks are dangerous, and should be chopped into bite-size pieces (no larger than
Soft, Sticky Foods. Foods like marshmallows and jelly candies can get lodged in your child’s throat and cause breathing problems.
Peanut Butter. The stickiness of nut butters can be difficult for young children to swallow.
Chewing Gum. Chewing gum can also get stuck in a child’s throat.
It is possible to be allergic to any food, but the following eight foods are responsible for about 90 percent of food allergies:
Tree nuts (e.g. walnuts, Brazil nuts, pistachios, pecans, and cashews)
Fish (e.g. tuna, salmon, and cod)
Shellfish (e.g. lobster, shrimp, and crab)
Eggs (especially the whites)
Cow’s milk (Babies are unable to digest the protein in cow’s milk for the first year. In addition, it does not have all the nutrients babies need and it contains minerals in amounts that can damage a baby’s kidneys. The only milk that should be fed to a child under age one is breast milk and formula.)
Other foods that tend to cause allergies include:
Gluten (found in wheat, oats and barley)
Berries (especially strawberries)
Citrus fruits (e.g. orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime and tangerine)
Sesame seeds/sesame oil
Please check with your pediatrician about guidelines regarding when children can try these foods and how to test and track specific allergies as they arise.
Several foods should be avoided because they can cause serious infection.
Honey, Corn Syrup or Maple Syrup. These can harbor spores that cause botulism. Babies are unable to fight off the spores, which can grow and produce life-threatening toxins.
Raw Fish and Meat. Avoid feeding your baby raw fish and meat (e.g. sushi and steak tartare) to reduce the chance of food poisoning, as they can contain harmful bacteria.
Untreated Juice. Unpasteurized juice can contain E. coli or Salmonella bacteria that can cause serious illness or even death.
Raw or Unpasteurized Milk. It can contain harmful pathogens, micro-organisms that cause diseases such as bacteria, viruses, and protozoa.
Soft Cheeses (Feta, Brie, Camembert, Blue Veined, and Mexican Style Cheeses). These cheeses can become contaminated with Listeria, a harmful bacteria that causes flu-like symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and muscle aches, and can eventually affect the nervous system.
Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, Tilefish and Tuna. Due to high levels of methylmercury, it is advised that children do not eat these types of fish.
Raw Sprouts (Alfalfa, Clover, Radish). Sprouts can contain Salmonella.
Raw Eggs. Raw eggs and foods prepared with raw eggs can contain Salmonella.
nuts and seeds
raw carrots and celery
raw peeled apple and pear slices
unpeeled fruits and vegetables
whole kernel corn
cherries with pits
raisins, dates and other dried fruits
large chunks of cheese or meat (especially tough meats)
wieners (hot dogs)
adult dry cereal
marshmallows (regular and miniature)
gel or gummy candies