9 foods to avoid feeding baby before 12 months
By Georgina Ferrer *
Breastfeeding your baby for the first six months not only provides all the nutrients that baby needs, it also protects him or her from a long list of diseases. Breastfeeding can help prevent allergies from developing, help increase intelligence, and help protect against obesity, just to name a few benefits. There’s also something in it for you, mom. It may help protect you against breast cancer, and help reduce stress and postpartum depression. If for some reason you cannot breastfeed, it’s recommended to give baby only formula, which contains all the nutrients for infant development.
Generally, at about six months old, baby’s digestive system is developed enough to start solid foods. Depending on your pediatrician’s advice, your baby may start trying new foods, flavors and textures (within reason) until they are about 12 months old when they might be ready for more variety. Nevertheless, baby’s digestive system will still be developing, and the first two years of life are crucial for growing a healthy digestive system.
Some people think the digestive system just digests food, but the truth is that it plays an important role in overall health. Without a strong digestive system, baby cannot absorb all the nutrients he or she needs to develop and grow up healthy. Almost 80 percent of the immune system lies inside the intestinal wall. If it‘s not in optimum condition, it can affect weight, nutrition, as well as physical, cognitive and emotional development.
Some foods are hard to digest, nutritionally deficient, zap energy levels, and can cause allergic reactions that affect the intestinal walls and consequently, overall health. At about 9 months old, the enzymes in baby’s small intestine (which break down food into nutrients) begin to emerge. They aren’t yet fully present in baby’s digestive system until about 18 months old. If baby hasn’t produced enough enzymes to properly digest certain foods, that can interfere with nutrient absorption and can cause baby to be underweight and ill. So, it’s best to avoid these foods before 12 months, and maybe even wait until 18 months:
- Cow’s milk and soymilk: Baby can’t digest the proteins in cow’s milk and soymilk. These milks lack all the nutrients your baby needs, and they contain minerals in amounts that can affect the kidneys.
- Honey: Honey contains spores that children and adults can eliminate, but that can stay in baby’s developing gut and potentially cause infant botulism.
- Salt: Too much sodium can cause kidney problems.
- Sugar: Feeding sweets to baby can cause blood sugar fluctuations and cavities.
- Red fruits: Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, among others, can bring about allergic reactions.
- Eggs: Eggs can also cause allergic reactions.
- Seafood: Seafood can cause allergic reactions.
- Nuts: Several nuts including walnuts, almonds and especially peanuts can cause allergic reactions.
Other foods that are not advisable include fruit juices, soft drinks, sausages, processed foods, gelatin, many breads and crackers, chocolate and citrus.
* Georgina Ferrer has always been passionate about nutrition and good health. In 2009 she moved to Belgium, and there discovered that her children had food intolerances so severe they caused illness. She began reading books on holistic health and decided to study holistic nutrition at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. She also took courses in “live food” with great Chef Pol Grégoire. Today, she’s a health coach dedicated to giving advice and nutrition courses to moms and children who want to change their eating habits and live healthier, fuller and happier lives.
What was your baby’s first solid food?