What NOT to Feed My Baby

November 25, 2019

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So, your little one is all set to try new things—you’ve seen all their ‘ready’ signs and away you go into this exciting milestone of trying new foods. When you think about it, it must be exciting for them watching you and your family put all those curious things in your mouths at every meal. Surely, they want to give food a try for themselves! After developing somewhat of a plan of what you would like to offer (see our blog: when should babies start eating solids? for some ideas if you are unsure how to begin), what are some key foods to steer clear of during this developmental stage? And wouldn’t it be easier to provide the commercial, store-bought recommendations?

Understanding what foods to avoid and why

When starting to wean with your baby, it is important to note that they are still at the beginning stage of oral development. The oral development will continue to mature until they are about 4-years of age, so start with a smoother texture in the beginning (at around 6-months) but ensure they are offered lumpy textures no later than 9-months of age to continue oral development and development of speech. [1]

wood board with honey, walnuts, grapesBelow is a quick overview of FOODS TO AVOID and rationale as you start to wean your baby:

Cow’s Milk:

Low in iron and can inhibit iron absorption. [2]

Choking Hazards:

Foods that are hard, small and round, or smooth and sticky, solid food can cause choking. [3]

Fruit Juice:

High in sugar; does not contain essential vitamins that babies need, takes away their appetite for breast milk or formula, may cause tooth decay, diarrhea and tummy upset. [4]

High-Mercury Fish:

Can damage the developing central nervous system. [5]


Can lead to infant botulism. [1]

Refined Grains:

Nutrients are ‘stripped’ during the refining process. [4]

Salt/Sugar and
Commercial Foods:

Foods high in salt/sugar put an infant’s health at risk both now and later in life. [1]

Smoked/Cured Meats:

High in sodium and contain nitrates. [4]

Unpasteurized Foods:

Contain harmful bacteria. [4]

The Importance of home-prepared meals

It’s no surprise that fast food chains and commercial foods have become so successful given how busy society is, but what is the cost? Not financially, but to our bodies? The obesity crisis surrounds us today and as we consume fast food and commercialized meals, we are losing out on important nutrients that are essential for our health and mental well-being. Is commercial infant food any different? In 2013, a study conducted in the UK looked at the nutritional content of infant commercial weaning foods. Authors of the study examined four main manufacturers of infant foods and found they contained fewer nutrients than home-prepared foods. [2] Also, commercial foods were high in sugar which leads to obesity and other health problems! Furthermore, the commercial foods do not offer the same opportunity to expose your little one to a greater variety of taste and texture that help develop their oral skills.

black and white cow in grass fields against blue skyTidbit for your Tiny One

Have you ever wondered why it is okay for older infants to drink cow’s milk and not younger infants (under 1 year of age)? Once your child starts regularly eating a variety of iron-rich foods (meat, meat alternatives, iron-fortified cereals, etc), cow’s milk is no longer associated with iron depletion. [3]

Here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Homemade infant foods are preferred over commercial infant foods
  • Avoid adding sugar and salt to infant foods
  • Avoid choking hazards
  • Avoid honey and unpasteurized foods
  • Avoid processed foods and refined grains
  • Avoid smoked meats and high-mercury fish

In our book, Recipes for Growing Me ~6 months, we have highlighted some possible first foods to try with your baby, as well as some foods to avoid. Check out our page on ‘the little no's you should know’ and be sure to reach out if you have any questions!

sample page from recipes for growing me ~6 months, baby's first cookbook, "N is for...the little No's you should know", character illustration cow milk, nuts, honey bee avoid on solid grey background and black lettering poem

N is for...the little no’s you should know
For some delightful foods
I have to wait until I’m older
To try these yummy delights
Some you will find
In the pictured folder
And if you ever feel a little iffy
Know that Google
Answers in a jiffy

Have a blooming’ day!
Sarah & Karen


[1] Food Safety Authority of Ireland (2011). Scientific recommendations for a national infant feeding policy, 2ndedition, 1-140.

[2] Garcia, AL., Raza, S., Parrett, A., Wright, CM. (2013). Nutritional content of infant commercial weaning in the UK. Archives of Disease in Childhood; 98: 793-797.

[3] https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/canada-food-guide/resources/infant-feeding/nutrition-healthy-term-infants-recommendations-birth-six-months/6-24-months.html

[4] https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/feeding-baby/foods-to-avoid-feeding-baby/

[5] Bose-O’Reilly, S., McCarty, KM., Steckling, N., Lettmeier, B. (2010). Mercury exposure and children’s health. Curr Probl Pediatr Adolesc Health Care. Sep; 40(8): 186–215.

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