When you first start introducing solids to baby, it's scary to see your baby choking or an allergic reaction develops. Choking and food allergies in babies are often a big surprise to the parents. Being aware of what foods might cause choking or an adverse or even allergic reaction to baby is key.
As you first introduce solids you should expose the baby to as many different tastes and textures as possible. ( We secretly love this baby porridge recipe). It’s important to be in the know about which foods should be avoided in the first year of life. Being in the know may prevent your baby from choking and other health issues related to the introduction of solids. Baby Led Weaning is often a popular technique to learn about as well and provides a great alternative to just using purees. Ultimately it’s all about ensuring your baby is getting all the nutrients their growing bodies need.
Call in the Experts! Today we have asked Dietitian & Founder Olivia Bates from Nourishing Bubs about introducing solids and the foods which should be avoided by babies under 1. She looks at the top foods that cause choking or a food reaction from honey, fruit juice and cow's milk. Olivia also talks about possible choking hazards and how to prevent this. Watch the video for the full episode and read below to find out more of what Olivia has to say.
Giving honey to your baby is a big no-no when it comes to babies under the age of 1. Honey may contain spores of the bacteria Clostridium botulinim, which is harmless to adults but can be potentially fatal to babies. The reason being their immune system is not fully developed. The ingested spores can make their way to the intestine where they grow and produce the toxin. This leads to botulism in babies which is a serious illness that can result in lethargy, poor appetite, weak sucking, weak cry, as well as nausea and vomiting. In severe cases, it can progress to dehydration and paralysis. Paralysis of the breathing muscles is potentially fatal. If you want to sweeten foods, opt for sweet purees. For examples sweet potato, apple or pear, as well as medjool dates (also have the bonus of being high in fibre) or pure maple syrup.
The average fruit juice is little more than sugar water. For infants under 1 the only beverage offered, aside from breastmilk or formula, should be cooled, boiled water. Fruit juice is high in sugar, but lacks the nutrients found in the whole fruit. With their small tummies, consumption of fruit juice can actually displace their appetite for breast milk or formula. Hence they may miss out on key nutrients and immunological benefits. The high sugar level can also upset their little tummies and result in diarrhoea, as well as placing them at risk of tooth decay. From the age of 9/10 months, smoothies made from whole fruits and vegetables, yoghurt and nut meals like LSA, can be a great snack. After one, fruit juice can be offered sparingly, but should be diluted at least 1:1 with water (if not 1 part juice, 2 parts water).
While cow’s milk is often recommended for toddlers to ensure they meet their calcium requirements, it should be avoided for infants up until 1. This is because cow’s milk has a different nutrient composition to formula or breast milk. It is the basis of baby’s diet until they are 1. In particular it is higher in protein than breast milk or formula and this can put undue stress on baby’s kidneys. For this reason it is important that cow’s milk is not used in place of breast milk or formula. Products which contain cow’s milk however are safe to offer, as long as they are not consumed excessively. It is also safe to use small amounts of cow’s milk in cooking as necessary.
Some people look to tea as a means of soothing babies sore tummies or for colicky infants. However, tea should be avoided before 6 months as it can displace breast milk or formula. While beyond 6 months, herbal teas such as chamomile, fennel and dill tea can be offered occasionally to assist with digestion, black tea should be avoided. Black tea and some herbal teas contain tannins which can interfere with the absorption of iron, a vital nutrient for baby’s growth and development.
Foods that represent a choking hazard include those which cannot be mashed with the gums, pressed between the tongue and the palate or easily dissolved in the mouth. These include foods like whole cherry tomatoes or grapes, whole nuts, raw pieces of fruit and vegetables such as apple or carrot, uncooked raisins and globs of nut butter. Around twelve months, baby will develop their back molar teeth which will allow them to chew foods offered in small pieces. Common choking hazards like popcorn and whole nuts should still be avoided until the age of 4 or until your toddler is chewing well.
Important note:Check out more resources on the Nourishing Bubs Blog.Accredited Practising Dietitian & Founder, Nourishing Bubs