Babies aren't just small adults. Their bodies aren't just smaller, they're different. Babies don't need the same amounts, or even the same ratios, of micro and macronutrients that we need. Their bodies aren't developed enough to handle large amounts of sodium or acid, and they don't have strong enough immune systems to cope with some bacteria.
Keep reading to find out which foods you shouldn't be feeding to anybody under the age of two, and in some cases, under the age of five.
Honey Can Cause Botulism In Infants
Honey is a delicious all-natural sweetener, but it can actually be quite harmful to little digestive systems. Honey can contain Clostridium botulinum spores. Adults have developed defenses against this type of bacteria, but spores can multiply in a baby's stomach and cause infant botulism.
Stay away from all kinds of liquid sweeteners when it comes to feeding your baby. Also, watch out for sneaky sources of honey, like graham crackers and cereals. While honey in processed food is, well, processed, it may be unpasteurized.
Cow's Milk Is Difficult To Digest
The only kind of milk babies should be drinking is breast milk or formula, at least until their first birthday. Cow's milk contains proteins that can be difficult for babies to digest, and minerals that can be damaging to their developing kidneys.
The same goes for cow's milk replacements like soy milk. It's ok for babies to have some dairy products, though. They can have yogurt and they can have dairy if it's in baked goods.
Fruit Juice Contains Too Much Sugar
Fruit juice contains a ton of sugar, and acidic juices like orange juice can be particularly harsh on little stomachs. Too much fruit juice can cause diarrhea in infants. If your kid just loves juice, pick a less acidic juice such as pear juice and dilute it with water to reduce the amount of sugar your baby is consuming.
It's best to stay away from juice altogether until your baby is at least six months old.
Refined Grains Aren't That Healthy For Anybody
Really, even adults should stay away from refined grains like white rice, white bread, and crackers. These foods are totally stripped of most of their nutrients and they don't contain very much fiber.
Instead, feed your baby cereals made out of whole grains and stick to whole wheat bread if you're going to include bread in your baby's diet. You can find pasta made out of brown rice at most grocery stores, and babies love picking up fusilli and penne with their little fingers.
Stay Away From Sweets
We all know that candy isn't exactly healthy, but when your kid is screaming for Skittles in the grocery check-out line, sometimes we give in just to avoid a public scene. When you give kids candy early on, it affects how their taste buds develop. If they never become accustomed to eating overly sugary foods, they'll never crave overly sugary foods.
Serve your kids cut up fruit for dessert instead of fruit-shaped gummies. They'll thank you for it later. Much later.
Unpasteurized Foods Can Contain Dangerous Bacteria
Pasteurization is a process (invented by French chemist Louis Pasteur) that involves heating certain foods to kill harmful bacteria present in those foods. However, not all bacteria-containing foods are pasteurized. Sometimes, bacteria actually helps certain cheeses and ciders form.
Babies and young children aren't developed enough to handle unpasteurized dairy products. The bacteria in these products can cause severe illness in little humans. Most dairy products in the U.S. are pasteurized, but just to be safe, always check the label.
Cured And Smoked Meats
Cured and smoked meats contain high levels of nitrates which can cause low levels of oxygen in some children. Most curing processes also involve a lot of salt or sodium, and one to three-year-olds only need to ingest 2 grams of sodium per day.
For reference, a 100-gram portion of salami contains 1,740 mg of sodium. Stick to meats that you've prepared and cooked yourself; that way you know exactly how much salt you're feeding your kids.
Nuts And Peanuts Are An Allergy Risk
This is a controversial one. First of all, plain whole nuts are a choking hazard, so it's best to stay away from those until your kid is old enough to properly chew and swallow. However, nut products like peanut butter or nut flavored snacks still present an allergy risk. If your child is allergic to nuts, you don't want them to have an allergic reaction while their body is too small or weak to handle it.
However, doctors are now saying that giving your kids small amounts of nut products between 4 and eleven months of age can actually help prevent nut allergies.
Certain Types Of Fish Contain High Levels Of Mercury
Some types of fish including tuna, mackerel, swordfish, shark, and tilefish have been found to contain high levels of mercury. These fish live in areas close to coal-burning plants and other pollutants. All of those chemicals get absorbed by the fish, and if we eat the fish, we also eat the chemicals.
Stick to salmon, trout, haddock, tilapia, and whitefish. You can also introduce your kids to shellfish like shrimp and scallops, but do so cautiously and slowly as with all potential allergens.
Berries Are Too Acidic For Babies
Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are all quite acidic. Acid can hurt delicate little stomachs. Too much acid can also cause babies to develop a rash. Babies often miss their mouths when they're shoving food into their faces. When they get acid from berries on their skin, it can irritate the skin around their mouths.
Babies can have small amounts of strawberries and other berries, but make sure to cut the fruit into very small pieces.
Too Much Chocolate Isn't A Good Idea
I'm pretty sure no parent thinks that chocolate is good for their baby. Obviously, chocolate sweets aren't healthy. Chocolate contains caffeine and sugar, both of which can mess with your baby's sleep schedule. Also, all that sugar isn't good for new baby teeth.
If you do allow your little one to have a bite of chocolate every now and again, make sure you help them brush their teeth very thoroughly afterward. A little sweetness can be okay in moderation.
Egg Yolks Are Safer Than Egg Whites
People who are allergic to eggs are generally more allergic to the white part of the egg (or the albumen) than they are to the egg yolk. That's why most paediatricians recommend that you slowly introduce your kids to egg yolks before you feed them egg whites.
Of course, always make sure than any egg product you feed your children is fully cooked. That means no licking the spoon if the batter has raw egg in it.
Some Vegetables Contain Nitrates
While most vegetables are very healthy for adults, some vegetables contain high levels of nitrates that can be harmful to your baby's delicate, developing stomach. Vegetables such as spinach, collard greens, beets, and lettuce contain a lot of nitrates.
Feed your baby soft orange vegetables such as cooked sweet potato, squash, and carrots. Cooked peas are also a nutritious, low-nitrate vegetable option. Basically, if it comes in baby food form, then it's probably safe.
Citrus Fruit Is Too Acidic
As we've already established, babies have very delicate stomachs. Citrus fruits, just like berries, are much too acidic for babies to eat. Sure, give your kid a taste of lemon to watch him make a sour face, but don't let him eat the whole wedge.
Pineapples are also too acidic for babies. When you do introduce your kids to citrus as they get older, make sure to do it slowly over a long period of time.
Babies Don't Need That Much Salt
Breast milk and formula contain all the salt that a baby could ever need. A one-year-old's kidneys aren't developed enough to handle adult quantities of salt. If you want to mash up portions of your family's dinner for your baby, make sure you take out your baby's portion and set it aside before you season the whole dish.
A lot of processed foods also contain high quantities of sodium, so make sure to read food labels carefully.
Grapes Are A Choking Hazard
Grapes are delicious and nutritious and they don't contain a whole lot of acid, but they do present a choking hazard for young children. Make sure you always cut grapes in half before feeding them to your children.
If your baby has a delicate stomach, grape skin can be hard to break down. You can peel the grapes if you want, or if that's too much work, just stick to fruits such as bananas and cooked apples and pears.
Never Give Hot Dogs To Babies Under One
In 2008, scientists conducted a study that found that hot dogs caused more choking-related injuries and deaths than any other food item for kids five years old and under. Even when hot dogs are cut into small discs, they still cause problems.
Also, hot dogs contain a whole bunch of sodium and nitrates, so it's not even worth the risk. Stick to healthier barbecue options such as grilled chicken, salmon, or vegetables. French fries are generally safe as long as they aren't salted.
Popcorn Isn't As Innocent As It Looks
Most doctors recommend leaving popcorn out of your kid's diet until your child is at least four years old. Popcorn presents a serious choking hazard. While the outer, soft bits of the kernels break down easily, the harder, inner bits can become lodged in your kid's teeth and throat.
Stick to snacks that are easier to eat safely, like whole grain rice cakes or puffed rice cereal. You can even puff rice yourself in a thick-bottomed pan.
Caffeine Will Keep Your Kids Up All Night
Don't feed your kids caffeine unless you really want to mess with their sleep schedule. Caffeine can be found in foods such as iced tea, coffee, soda, and chocolate. These foods will give your kids a boost of energy and then cause them to crash hard.
Give them foods that will provide long lasting natural energy such as high protein meat and dairy products, or grains that release energy slowly such as oats and barley.
Always Cook Carrots For Your Kids
Carrots are a great source of several essential vitamins, plus they taste great. The only downside is that hard carrots are difficult to chew, which means that kids often literally bite off more than they can handle. This can present a serious choking risk.
Always cook and dice or mash carrots before feeding them to infants or young children. Really, you want to be cooking most hard fruits and vegetables until your child has all of their back molars.