Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Parenting: "Why to Avoid These Foods for Your Infant/Child"

You are probably asking yourself, wasn't there already a post on this? 

Well there was, I just didn't list the reasons why you shouldn't give your infant/child that food.  I think it is important for us to understand why we do the things we do. Not just to go with the flow b/c that is what everyone else is doing.  

I know most of us have at one point in time (or will soon) left our children with there Grandpa and Grandma, and of course you went over the things you wanted them to eat and not to eat. They probably didn't understand why either! Now you can make yourself aware and tell them the reason as to why your child can't have that particular food until a certain age. 

Important Foods to Avoid For Your Baby
And Why

  • Salt
  • Honey
  • Spinach, beets, turnips, collard greens and carrots
  • Nuts
  • Cow's Milk
  • Unpasteurized milk
  • Wheat
  • Fish, eggs, and citrus


What to do? Don't use any salt at all in your baby's food until he is 1 year old. (And continue to be restrictive after that.)
The salt that is already in the breast milk or formula is enough.
Also, don't offer food that contains a lot of salt, such as some sausages, broths and potato chips. Even breakfast cereals can contain a lot of salt. Check the table of contents.
What can happen?
Babies' kidneys are not enough developed to be able to handle too much salt, so the salt can cause damage. Too much salt for children has also been linked to diabetes later in life.


What to do? Honey is actually one of the most important foods to avoid during your baby's first year. This includes also corn syrup and maple syrup.
What can happen?
Honey can contain bacterial spores that can lead to infant botulism. This is a rare but very serious disease that can be fatal.
Even if international studies only have found these spores in honey in a few cases, the disease is so serious that the recommendation is to not give your baby honey in any form until the baby in 1 year old.
Only babies can get infant botulism, adults and older children are not affected.
If your baby has been fed honey, the risk is still very low that your baby will suffer infant botulism. The most common and earliest symptom is constipation. Other symptoms include generalized weakness, a weak cry, poor sucking reflex, irritability, lack of facial expression, and loss of head control.
If you are at all worried, contact a pediatrician.

Spinach, beets, turnips, collard greens and carrots

What to do?
Be careful when using vegetables that are high in nitrates when making homemade food.
Such vegetables are:
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Beets
  • Turnips
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
These vegetables are high in nitrate and are foods to avoid for babies younger than 4 months. Actually where I live, the general recommendation is to avoid spinach and beets until the baby is 1 year old, but all studies that I have found indicate that the risks connected to nitrates more or less disappears around the age of 4 months.
Still, it is wise to be careful!
Studies have also shown that organic vegetables are lower in nitrates than conventional vegetables.
Nitrate levels are also affected by how the foods are prepared:
  • The vegetables need to be frozen directly after harvest.
  • Do not use vegetables that have been frozen for more than five months.
  • Vegetables should not be thawed for longer than 15 hours in room temperature
  • Do not store prepared foods from these vegetables for any length of time.
Commercially prepared forms of these foods can be used without risk, since their nitrate content is controlled.

What can happen?
Nitrate can be harmful to young babies, in worst case leading to the Blue Baby disease. What happens is that a too high concentration of nitrates can prevent oxygen from being carried properly in your baby's blood. Low oxygen in the blood will cause babies to have blue-colored skin, which is why the disease is commonly called "blue baby" disease. This disease is also called "methemoglobinemia."
A few case of blue baby disease from spinach have been found in Germany. The young babies were fed spinach pureed at home and stored in a poor way.
The younger the baby, the higher the risks.
Just be careful in the beginning and your baby will be fine!


What to do?
Avoid giving various kinds of nuts to your baby during the first year.
What can happen?
Nuts should be avoided for two reasons:
  • Children may develop allergy, especially peanuts are very allergenic.
  • They are a potential choking hazard.

Cow's milk

What to do?
Many babies can handle some dairy products when they are around 6 months old. However most countries recommend avoiding cow's milk as a drink during the baby's first year.
In the US, the general recommendation is to start with small servings of dairy products when the baby is 9 months old and to wait with cow's milk as a drink until the baby is 1 year old.
Skim-milk and low-fat milk products are foods to avoid completely for babies. They supply too much protein, potassium, and sodium and not enough calories for the growing infant. Children also need the fat for proper growth and development including brain development.
What can happen?
Infants fed whole cow's milk receive inadequate amounts of vitamin E, iron, and essential fatty acids. They also receive excessive amounts of protein, sodium, and potassium. These levels may be too high for the baby's system to handle. Additionally, whole cow's milk protein and fat are difficult for an infant to digest and absorb.
The most obvious effects are on iron levels in the body. Babies fed breast milk or iron fortified formula have normal iron levels. Recent studies show infants often have depleted levels when started on cow's milk at six months of age.
Also, some babies may not be able to handle the milk protein. If your baby throws up or has a stomach pain after consuming dairy products, contact a pediatrician to schedule an investigation.

Unpasteurized milk

What to do?
Don't give unpasteurized milk to your baby, actually not even to your toddler.

What can happen?
When milk is being pasteurized, heated, bacteria that may be in the milk dies. Some bacteria, for example E. coli, are known to give young babies and children severe diarrhea.


What to do?
This one is a bit tough, because recommendations vary between countries.
The most recent recommendation that I have read is to start slowly /very slowly) with wheat while still breastfeeding.
I have also read in many places the older recommendation to wait with wheat products until your baby is around one year old.
Since recommendations vary so much, talk to your baby's doctor about your situation.
What can happen?
Your baby could develop gluten intolerance, also called celiac disease. Celiac disease is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, which is found in wheat, rye and barley.
Gluten intolerance is hard to diagnose, but if your baby has diarrhea that won't go away, smelly stools, does not gain weight and maybe has a bloated abdomen, you should contact a doctor. The tendency to get the disease is inherited.

Fish, egg and citrus

What to do?
You may want to start slowly with these three foods.
Again recommendations vary between countries. Some say these are foods to avoid until the baby is one year old or even older, other say that it is perfectly fine to introduce these foods at some point between 8 months and 1 year.
Regarding fish, make sure the fish you choose to serve is not known to have high mercury levels. Also, start with "white flesh" fish types, such as Flounder, Haddock, Cod, and Sole, since these are considered to be the least allergenic.
Check with your baby's doctor before introducing fish, and especially shellfish to your child.

What can happen?
These foods are allergenic. Shellfish are generally worse than fish. Allergic reaction can be anything from mild to deadly; the latter mainly from shellfish although uncommon.

Foods to Avoid - Not Critical

Here we list foods to avoid more for their possible long-term effects on your baby's heath or well-being.
  • Fried and smoked food
  • Whole-grain products
  • Sugar
  • Artificial Sweetener

    Fried and smoked food

    What to do?
    Avoid giving your baby fried, deep-fried and smoked food. Or at least take away the crust if the food is deep-fried or fried.
    What can happen?
    Fried and smoked foods are much harder for the baby to digest than cooked foods.

    Whole-grain products

    What to do?
    Start slowly! Whole-grain products can be hard for babies and toddlers to digest.
    What can happen?
    Whole-grain products are often marketed to desperate parents as a way to make their baby sleep better. The reason is that whole-grain makes your baby stay full for a longer period.
    While this may or may not be true for your child, this hunt for sleep may come at a cost - diarrhea! If your baby's stomach seems upset and your baby is not ill, try excluding all whole-grain products from his diet.


    What to do?
    Avoid sugar for as long as you can, particularly white sugar.
    What can happen?
    Sugar causes tooth decay and obesity and may be harmful in other ways too. Avoid giving your baby sugar for as long as possible including foods, snacks and drinks that contain a lot of sugar.

    Artificial sweeteners

    What to do?
    Avoid artificial sweeteners for as long as you can.
    What can happen?
    These substances (such as aspartame and sucralose) are quite new and the health effects of using them are not all that clear.
    Why risk it?
    That was it! However, I can't stress enough that if you have food allergies in your family, there may be other foods to avoid or handle with caution. In such case you must talk to your baby's doctor!

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