The World Health Organization recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first year of life, which means that they shouldn’t eat or drink anything except breast milk for a full year.
While these guidelines are recommended to parents around the globe, they’re not always adhered to. Pediatricians may recommend an amended diet in some cases, as breastfeeding may not be an ideal fit with the lifestyle of a growing family, and there can be extenuating circumstances that exclude some families from this recommendation.
It’s never a good idea to feed a baby solid food if she’s too young to support the weight of her head without assistance, but these are 15 of the foods that won’t be suitable even for toddlers.
Raw Sprouts – The manner in which sprouts are grown can leave them susceptible to contamination in a variety of ways, making them a risky choice for young children.
Hot Dogs – Hot dogs may be one of the quintessential kids’ foods, but they’re also one of the most dangerous. The very structure of a hot dog makes it a choking hazard, especially for young children whose chewing and swallowing reflexes are still developing. Before serving hot dogs, they should be sliced lengthwise and then chopped.
Honey – Reaching for an all-natural sweetener is admirable, but honey can cause botulism in children younger than one year of age. It’s best to avoid giving a child honey until he’s well into his second year in the interest of playing it safe.
Peanuts – Choking hazards aside, peanut allergies are among the most common and the most deadly food sensitivities. Introducing such a high-risk food to young children, especially those with a family history of peanut allergies, could trigger a dangerous allergic reaction that leads to anaphylactic shock.
Tree Nuts – Tree nuts are another common allergen that double as a choking hazard. Until kids’ sensitivity to foods has been established in a controlled environment and he’s old enough to manage round, crunchy foods, tree nuts shouldn’t be on the menu.
Whole Grapes – It’s perfectly acceptable to feed young children grapes. In fact, these naturally sweet snacks are far preferable to candies and processed sweets. The round shape and smooth skin do make them dangerous choking hazards, though, which is why you should always cut them into smaller, more manageable pieces before feeding them to little ones.
Shellfish – On the list of common allergens, shellfish ranks fairly high. It’s also one that has the potential to be deadly in cases of exposure when there’s an allergy.
Certain Types of Fish – Fish is rich in a variety of nutrients and compounds that are beneficial to human health, but some varieties are known to harbor high levels of mercury. The contaminant can build up in the bodies of frequent pescetarians, which can be particularly problematic for kids. Be sure that you research the safety of a particular variety of fish in terms of mercury risk before feeding it to your growing toddler.
Cow’s Milk – It’s natural to assume that cow’s milk is a reasonable substitute for formula or breast milk in a pinch, but that’s just not the case. The stomachs of babies under one year of age simply aren’t ready to process cow’s milk.
Soy Milk – Soy milk can cause gastrointestinal problems for small children, and doesn’t contain enough calories or nutrients to sustain a growing baby. Soy is also one of the more common allergies, so it’s wise to skip the soy milk altogether until your child is a bit older.
Eggs – Limiting kids’ exposure to common allergens when they’re small can prevent scary or even dangerous reactions, and eggs are among the food items that commonly cause sensitivity issues.
Chewing Gum – Chewing gum is sweet and fun for little ones, but the motion of chewing and swallowing saliva can confuse growing digestive systems that equate the chewing action with eating. Gum can also pose a choking hazard for little ones.
Marshmallows – The soft, sticky consistency of a marshmallow makes it a very risky food for small children because it can so easily become a choking hazard. This is especially true of the larger varieties, which can completely block a child’s airway.
Gummy Candies – Processed sugars and artificial additives aside, gummy candies become a chewy, gelatinous mess in kids’ mouths, which can become a potential choking hazard.
Nut Butters– Even if you eliminate the potential allergen risk of peanut and other nut butters, the consistency is still difficult for developing jaws and throats to manage. Nut butters are a leading cause of choking among small children, so it’s wise to hold off on this kid classic until your little one is a bit older, or to spread it thinly on crackers or bread if serving to older toddlers.