It is so important to avoid feeding a baby or toddler anything that could be detrimental to their health. So, once infants are weaning off milk and eating solids, vigilance and care is needed over every food choice. Allergens aside (we’ll cover those in a separate, future post), the NHS recommends a significant list of foods that adults should avoid giving babies and young children. Such foods are on the ‘avoid’ list usually because they contain one or more of the following three ingredients, although there are also others to look out for, as you’ll see.
- Too much salt. This is bad for babies’ kidneys, which have not finished developing. It can also raise blood pressure and increase the risk of stroke and heart disease. According to the NHS, babies under 1 should have less than 1g of salt per day and this will usually be achieved through milk intake, so none should be added. Children aged between 1 and 3 should only eat a maximum of 2g of salt per day (0.8g of sodium). For 4 to 6-year-olds it can increase to 3g of salt per day (1.2g of sodium).
- Added sugar. Infants do not need this. If added, it may increase instances of tooth decay, unhealthy weight issues, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. With children typically consuming more than twice as much sugar as is recommended, it is a real issue. The NHS’s sugar calculator can help when preparing food for infants, or alternatively use their Food Scanner app to find healthier food choices (click the yellow graphic to download).
- Saturated fats. These can raise levels of cholesterol and increase the risk of getting heart disease.
Foods to Avoid Giving Your Infant
In alphabetical order, foods that the NHS warns parents to avoid feeding babies and infants include:
|Food Type||Reason To Avoid / Notes|
|Bacon||Contains salt and saturated fats.|
|Bagles||May contain added salt.|
|Biscuits||These may be high in saturated fats.|
|Bread products||May contain added salt.|
|Breakfast cereals||Likely to contain salt and sugar.|
|Cakes||Contains sugar and saturated fats.|
|Cereal bars||Contains sugar.|
|Cheeses (some)||Contains salt and saturated fats. Avoid all cheeses before the age of six months. Thereafter, avoid cheeses including non-pasteurised, mould-ripened (like brie), veined cheese (like stilton) and ripened goats’ cheese — unless used in [hot] cooking to kill harmful microbes.|
|Chips with added salt||Contains salt.|
|Chocolate & chocolate products, spreads etc.||Contains sugar, saturated fats, even salt.|
|Crisps||Contains salt. They can also contain high levels of saturated fat.|
|Crumpets||May contain added salt.|
|Eggs||Avoid before the age of 6 months, thereafter avoid if raw/only lightly cooked unless they exhibit the Red Lion or ‘British Lion Quality’ stamp.|
|Fizzy drinks||Avoid if they contain added sugar.|
|Fruit juices||Even unsweetened juice will contain natural ‘free’ sugars.|
|Gravy granules||Contains salt.|
|Honey||Contains sugar and also may contain bacteria that produces toxins in babies’ intestines, potentially causing botulism. Never give honey to children under the age of 1.|
|Ice cream||Contains sugar, saturated fats|
|Jelly cubes||Choking hazard.|
|Juice drinks||Contain sugar.|
|Marlin meat||Contains mercury.|
|Mayonnaise||Likely to contain salt.|
|Nuts – salted and dry-roasted||Contains salt. Choking hazard too, unless crushed.|
|Olives||Contains salt. Choking hazard.|
|Pasta sauces||Likely to contain salt.|
|Pastries||Contains sugar, saturated fats, even salt.|
|Pizza||Likely to contain salt.|
|Ready meals||Contains salt.|
|Rice drinks||Avoid before the age of 5 – contains arsenic.|
|Salt fish||Contains salt.|
|Sandwiches||Likely to contain salt.|
|Sauces||Likely to contain salt.|
|Sausages||Likely to contain salt and saturated fats.|
|Shark meat||Contains mercury.|
|Shelfish||Avoid if raw/lightly cooked.|
|Smoked meat and fish||Contains salt.|
|Soup||Likely to contain salt.|
|Soy sauce||Contains salt.|
|Stock cubes||Contains salt.|
|Swordfish meat||Contains mercury.|
|Syrups including maple, golden, agave etc.||Contains sugar.|
|Tomato ketchup||Contains salt.|
|Vegetable juices||Contains sugar.|
|Yeast extract||Contains salt.|
|Yoghurts (flavoured)||Contains sugar.|
We hope that this ready-reference is useful for parents and guardians of babies and young children. However, it is a guide only and you should do your own research, including in regard to possible allergies. Always check food labels and ensure you’re using information for infants, not adults.
Healthy Eating at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham
Our standard fees include healthy meals (breakfast, lunch and tea as appropriate), healthy snacks and drinks. Meals contain fresh, nutritious ingredients that are locally sourced and prepared by award-winning early years caterers. We cater for all dietary needs including vegan and vegetarian options. We also participate in the ‘Startwell’ programme, which encourages healthy food and lifestyles amongst children and families in the Birmingham area.
Looking for outstanding nurseries/pre-schools in Edgbaston, Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick?
Leaps & Bounds is a popular nursery and pre-school located in Edgbaston, Birmingham. We offer high quality childcare to local parents/guardians, including those who live or work in Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. To learn more about how we can bring out the very best in your baby, toddler or under-five child, we invite you to bring them along for a nursery visit. Ask us any questions and have a look around. See if your child feels at home. You can also simply apply for a place or send us a message. Please choose a button below to get started: