Nutritional Advice

Can I give my baby any type of food or drink?

Baby-led weaning is about giving your baby family foods so that they can get used to all the tastes and textures you eat as a family; however, family foods are not always great for baby. We know that feeding your child pizza and chips on a regular basis is not a good idea, but neither is feeding your baby a diet full of wholegrains and pulses, or giving lots of low-fat foods.

With this in mind, here is a list of foods to avoid when you are starting to give solid foods at around 6 months:

  • Added salt or high salt
  • Babies’ kidneys can’t handle too much salt
  • Avoid adding salt to food (use herbs and spices instead if you want to)
  • Avoid stock cubes and gravy where possible
  • Avoid too many processed meats and other foods which are high in salt

Sugar

  • We want our children to get used to more savoury tastes
  • We also want to help our children to avoid tooth decay
  • Avoid (if possible) sugary snacks and drinks – including flavoured yoghurt
  • Add mashed fruit, breast or formula milk to sweeten if necessary, but try to get baby used to savoury tastes

Honey

  • Occasionally, honey contains bacteria which can produce toxins in a baby’s intestines – leading to a very serious illness (infant botulism)
  • Avoid honey until they’re a year old
  • Honey is a sugar, so avoiding it will also help to prevent tooth decay

Whole nuts

  • Not for children under 5 years due to them being a choking hazard
  • Crush or grind nuts (if they have no family history of nut allergy), but beware of added sugar and salt in some peanut butters

Low-fat foods

  • They need the fat and fat-soluble vitamins, so low-fat foods are not recommended
  • Babies under 2 years should have full-fat milk, cheese and yoghurt

Saturated fat

  • Saturated fat is the visible fat on meat; there is also lots in biscuits, cakes and pastries. Although you want full-fat foods for baby, try and give your child foods rich in unsaturated fat

Shark, swordfish and marlin

  • The amount of mercury in these fish can affect a baby’s growing nervous system

Unpasteurised soft cheese and blue cheeses

  • Pose a risk of food poisoning

Raw shellfish

  • Pose a risk of food poisoning

Lots of fibre

  • Fibre can make baby full very quickly, so they don’t have space for other nutritious foods
  • Fibre can also affect the absorption of some nutrients
  • We want to get baby used to wholegrains, but they don’t need all their starchy foods to be wholegrain. Baby will get enough fibre if they are having a variety of fruit and veg (5 types a day) and some pulses (peas, beans and lentils)
  • If you are vegetarian or vegan, it is worth reading the advice provided on the First Steps Nutrition Trust website

Foods containing bran

  • Because of the high-fibre content

Anything marketed for adults (e.g. cholesterol-lowering products)

Here is a list of drinks to avoid:

  • Soya milk, cow’s milk or rice milk as a drink
  • Baby should only have breast milk or formula milk to get the nutrition they need from milk (there is no need to use follow-on formula); they can move on to full-fat cow’s milk when they turn 1
  • You can use cow’s milk before they turn 1 in cooking, but not as a drink

Sweetened fruit squashes, fruit drinks, fizzy drinks and energy drinks

  • Because of the high sugar content (and caffeine in some)

Tea and coffee

  • These contain tannins which reduce the absorption of iron – a vital mineral for baby
  • They also contain caffeine

Undiluted fruit juices

  • Fruit juice can damage the enamel on baby’s teeth, but it is also a sweet taste we don’t need to give them
  • If you want to give juice, only give pure juice that is well diluted (maximum 50% juice) at meal times

Alcoholic drinks

  • For obvious reasons!

This might seem like a long list, but aren’t we lucky that there are still loads of healthy foods for baby we can try? Happy weaning!

Once your baby gets to the age of 2, their diet should reflect the Eatwell Guide.