The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the best age for babies to begin eating solid foods is around the age of six months. Before making the transition to solids, parents should learn the necessary safety measures needed to protect their baby’s health.
The first thing parents have to do before introducing solids to babies is making certain that the infant is able to sit up in a highchair and has good neck and head control. Additionally, there are certain foods that they should exclude from their child’s menu because their bodies may not be developed enough to digest them. Here is a list of some of these foods:
- Honey (or foods made with honey): Honey can be harmful to children under the age of one. The spores of the bacteria, Clostridium botulinum, are found in honey and can cause botulism. The symptoms of this illness include; paralysis, shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, vomiting and abdominal cramps.
- Cow’s milk: Babies younger than a year old should not consume cow’s milk because it is difficult for them to digest.
- Smoked or cured meats: Smoked or cured meats such as bacon or bologna usually contain nitrates and other chemicals that can be harmful to babies’ health.
- Fruit juices: The AAP suggests that fruit juices should be given to infants under the age of six months very minimally or not at all because these juices may contain added sugars. Added sugars are not beneficial for babies’ health and also contain acids that attack enamel in babies’ teeth.
- Teas: Teas may contain substances such as tannin that can prevent infants from absorbing Iron from food.
- Salt: Avoid giving infants under 12 months foods that contain too much salt because their kidneys are not fully developed enough to process salt.
- Fish high in mercury: Some fish such as shark or swordfish are high in mercury and should not be given to babies because they can have a negative effect on their nervous systems.
By following these precautions, parents can safely introduce solid foods to their baby’s diet. Also, keep in mind that if you have a family history of food allergies to consult your pediatrician before giving foods that may cause allergic reactions such as nuts, shellfish or eggs to your child.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.