The A-Z of Foods to Avoid Giving Your Infant

The NHS recommends a significant list of foods that adults should avoid giving babies and young children.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.

  1. 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).
  2. The NHS's Food Scanner phone app is available free.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).
  3. 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 TypeReason To Avoid / Notes
AnchoviesContains salt.
BaconContains salt and saturated fats.
BaglesMay contain added salt.
BiscuitsThese may be high in saturated fats.
Bread productsMay contain added salt.
Breakfast cerealsLikely to contain salt and sugar.
BunsContains sugar.
CakesContains sugar and saturated fats.
Cereal barsContains 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 saltContains salt.
Chocolate & chocolate products, spreads etc.Contains sugar, saturated fats, even salt.
CiabattaContains salt.
CrispsContains salt. They can also contain high levels of saturated fat.
CrumpetsMay contain added salt.
EggsAvoid 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 drinksAvoid if they contain added sugar.
Fruit juicesEven unsweetened juice will contain natural ‘free’ sugars.
Gravy granulesContains salt.
HamContains salt.
HoneyContains 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 creamContains sugar, saturated fats
Jelly cubesChoking hazard.
Juice drinksContain sugar.
Marlin meatContains mercury.
MayonnaiseLikely to contain salt.
NectarsContains sugar.
Nuts – salted and dry-roastedContains salt. Choking hazard too, unless crushed.
OlivesContains salt. Choking hazard.
Pasta saucesLikely to contain salt.
PastriesContains sugar, saturated fats, even salt.
PicklesContains salt.
PizzaLikely to contain salt.
PrawnsContains salt.
Ready mealsContains salt.
Rice drinksAvoid before the age of 5 – contains arsenic.
SalamiContains salt.
Salt fishContains salt.
SandwichesLikely to contain salt.
SaucesLikely to contain salt.
SausagesLikely to contain salt and saturated fats.
Shark meatContains mercury.
ShelfishAvoid if raw/lightly cooked.
Smoked meat and fishContains salt.
SmoothiesContains sugar.
SoupLikely to contain salt.
Soy sauceContains salt.
Stock cubesContains salt.
SweetsContains sugar.
Swordfish meatContains mercury.
Syrups including maple, golden, agave etc.Contains sugar.
TakeawaysContains salt.
Tomato ketchupContains salt.
Vegetable juicesContains sugar.
Yeast extractContains 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 nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & 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:

Is Your Child a Fussy Eater?

Today's article offers a handy guide to dealing with toddlers and preschoolers who are fussy about food.Is your child a fussy eater? If so, it can be rather frustrating for parents or guardians. It could also lead to a poorly balanced diet, which would be bad from a number of health and wellbeing perspectives. The good news, though, is that there are lots of things that parents can do to potentially cure the problem. Today’s article offers a handy guide to dealing with toddlers and preschoolers who are fussy about food.

Don’t Stress

If they’re in their early years, food fussiness is rather common, so you’re far from alone. When they transition from milk onto solids, everything is new to infants, from tastes to textures — and even colours when you think about it. While some little ones take to the new sensory stimuli with relish, others seem put off initially by many of these new food experiences. After all, most of them will not be as sweet as the milk they’ve been used to. Being wary of new food is perfectly normal too, even instinctive for many. After all, they don’t know what’s good or bad for them at such an early age.

Some Think They Don’t Like it

Another major factor in disliking certain foods is that children often think they don’t like it. That’s common to many children and, indeed, even to some older children. It’s even common for adults to later eat and enjoy foods that they wouldn’t have given the time of day to during childhood, simply based on a misplaced early belief that they didn’t or wouldn’t like it.

Try, Try and Try Food Again

Infants may need to try a new food as many as fifteen times before they accept it.

It can sometimes take 10 to 15 attempts before children will learn to like a particular food.That, above, is one of the main secrets of encouraging children to accept a particular food i.e. getting them to try, try, … and try it again. It can sometimes take 10 to 15 times before they’ll realise that, actually, it tastes pretty good now they’re used to it! It’s the very definition of an ‘acquired taste’ when you think about it and this seemingly odd facet of human nature is worth explaining to under-fives. It could encourage them to try more things.

Showing empathy to a child around their food misgivings can also help. They may well pick up on your advice eventually, even if it takes several tries before they learn to ‘trust’ and accept a particular food. Being enthusiastic about a food they’re wary of may also help.

Disguising Food

Hiding or disguising food is another useful approach for parents/guardians of children who won’t eat a specific food. A particular vegetable, for example, can be made into a mash, mixed in with a salad, made into a sauce or soup or even chopped up and used in a garnish. This will get the child used to the taste without realising they are eating something they weren’t keen on attempting.

People eat first with their eyes.

Make Food Fun!

Food can be made into a picture on the plate, to make eating more fun for little ones.Another way to encourage children to eat foods they are not keen on trying is to make them more appealing and entertaining. A plate of food could be made into a picture, for example. Broccoli could be used to represent trees, a mound of peas could represent a hilltop and cut up carrots could be made to look like a sun, perhaps. Pictorial themes might include faces, the countryside, space and exploration, animal shapes, rainbows, the seaside, the weather and so on. Children will naturally engage with this concept and it will make food fun.

Similarly, you might allow children to use plates and bowls that have fun designs that are revealed as food is consumed from them.

Pretending the food on the spoon is a train, car or plane coming towards them makes every mouthful fun!Then, of course, there is the old favourite for the youngest of the children — pretending the food on the spoon is a train, car or plane coming towards them! This, with suitable sound effects from the parent, makes every mouthful great fun!

Build Bridges

By that, we mean ‘food bridges‘. These are a way of harnessing a child’s liking of one food to introduce another. An example would be where, if they like boiled potatoes but not cheese or apple, you would sprinkle a little grated cheese or apple purée on top of the potatoes. Work with small amounts first and then they’ll gradually get used to the tastes.

Get Children Involved with Food

Getting children involved in choosing and preparing food can help encourage them to eat it.Getting children involved in all aspects of food may also encourage them to try different things and to accept them. Examples would include letting them choose the vegetables or fruit from the supermarket shelves, allowing them to be involved (under supervision) in the meal preparation and even helping them to grow their own food. Allowing them to decide how food is presented on the plate is another example. All these things make food fun and less intimidating.

Positive Signals & Encouragement

Children often do better with encouragement and its place around food is no different. So, some enthusiasm from parents/guardians in this regard will go a long way. “Ooh, that’s yummy!” or “It’s so tasty!” type comments will send positive signals to the child as they eat. Be positive about food, the different tastes and textures and how good food is for them. “It will make you grow up to be big … strong … energised … and healthy” etc.

Negotiate!

Some children can be quite stubborn so, if they’re refusing a decent food for no good reason, try negotiating with them! For example, “If you eat all of your peas, we’ll go to the swings” and so on. Focus on encouragement i.e. rewarding them rather than punishing them if they don’t eat. It’s the ‘carrot’ not the ‘stick’, to use the metaphor, as you want positivity around food, never negativity.

Teach by Example

Children instinctively learn from their parents, guardians, adults and role models.If a child is hesitant about trying a particular food, let them see you eat – and enjoy – some of it. You are their primary role model, after all. As we said before, remind them, perhaps, that it’s ‘yummy’ or that their friend or TV hero enjoys it. Children instinctively learn from their parents, guardians, adults and role models, so this is a very natural way to encourage them to eat things they really should be eating.

Don’t forget, it can take multiple tries, so don’t give in! Gentle perseverance is key when it comes to children trying food that they’re wary of.

Healthy Eating at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston

Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Our childcare professionals know all these approaches, of course. So, if a child is reticent about a particular food, we know just what to do to encourage them to try it, without undue pressure. Parents can also discuss their child’s food and eating with our childcare practitioners — we will always take on board their preferences and advice.

Healthy, fresh, balanced meals, snacks and drinks are all provided at Leaps & Bounds nursery/pre-school — they’re included in our fees. The nursery also adopted the ‘Startwell’ programme some years ago and this is a way to keep children eating healthily and keeping active. Learn more about the Birmingham Startwell programme here.

Looking for an Outstanding Childcare Service in Edgbaston, Birmingham?

Try Leaps & Bounds, a childcare nursery & pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

If you’re searching for the best nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham or near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick, please contact us. We’ll be happy to show you around the setting, answer your questions and welcome your child to our lovely nursery and pre-school. Please choose a button below:

Healthy Eating & Getting Active – for Kids in Birmingham

Here at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, we believe a healthy eating and a good exercise regimen is vitally important for young children. With that in mind, we have adopted the ‘Startwell’ programme, which has been rolled out across the Birmingham area. The programme is aimed at Early Years settings like ours, health professionals and parents. After all, we should all try to play our part in creating a healthy environment for children to grow up in, whether at home or at nursery or pre-school. We have already achieved levels 1 and 2 in the programme.

The Startwell programme’s 7 key aims:

  1. To demonstrate good behaviour and be a good role model for children;
  2. For children to snack just twice a day as part of a healthy eating lifestyle;
  3. For children to accomplish 3 hours of physical activity every day;
  4. To give children food portion sizes that are right for them;
  5. For children to try to avoid sitting still for prolonged periods of time;
  6. For children to eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day;
  7. To encourage improvement in children’s movement and motor skills.

We’ll explain each of the 7 aims in more detail …

Demonstrating good behaviour to be a good role model

Children learn by copying what they see around them. As a parent or adult involved in the child’s life, it is therefore vitally important that the behaviours they see and copy are positive. At Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, for example, we eat fruit and vegetables together at snack time and involve the children in having fun while preparing food. We’d also like to encourage parents to share meal times together when at home with the family. Another example is sharing physical activity together to encourage motor skills and coordination. This can be great fun when it’s made part of a game and it only takes a few small changes to make a difference.

Snacking only twice a day for healthy eating

Our little ones have smaller stomachs than adults, so naturally need less food. However, it’s also important for them to keep up their energy levels during the day. In view of this, the children at the nursery follow the Startwell guidelines on healthy eating. As part of this, they have two snacks a day in addition to their three meals. Importantly, they’re healthy snacks, like fruit, vegetables, rice cakes or toast. There are plenty more healthy snack ideas on the Startwell site — click this link if you need some inspiration at home.

3 hours of physical activity a day

The government recommends roughly 3 hours a day of physical activity for pre-school children. This can be spread throughout the day, though. Physical activity positively impacts not only on physical health but also in the development of a child’s brain. Right from birth, floor based play and water activities are beneficial so long, of course, as they’re done under close supervision in a safe environment. Physical activity can have a positive effect on weight, blood pressure and general well-being. Of course, it is also is beneficial as a way of improving motor and social skills.

Giving children the right sized food portions

It’s important to remember our children’s stomachs are smaller than our own, which is especially important when it comes to portion size. Offering over-large quantities of food can sometimes overwhelm young children, so it’s important to get the portion size correct. You can always offer more if they clean their plates and are still hungry. We often employ this approach at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. If it’s not clear when a young child or toddler is full, we’ll look out for certain signs. These include ignoring their plate, shutting their mouth when food is given, or even wanting to spit food out. The Startwell programme offers lots of handy tips on this and meal times in general.

Avoiding sitting still for prolonged periods

Under fives shouldn’t be inactive for more than one hour at a time, with the exception of when they are asleep. Increased inactivity has been linked to weight gain and lower cognitive development. Studies have also shown that increased physical activity during early years encourages greater physical activity once we’re adults. It also encourages physical, social, emotional and intellectual skills to develop. So the Startwell message is clear — sitting positions should be primarily used for the purpose they were designed for. That means only at meal times, during car journeys and at formal lesson time.

5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day

Did you know that getting a variety of 5 portions of fruit and veg’ a day is essential for getting vitamins, minerals and fibre? They may also reduce the risk of illness in later life. By eating 5 portions a day, it helps to maintain a healthy weight, keeps us regular and reduces the risks of some diseases, including type 2 diabetes.

Even young kids can follow the 5-a-day guidelines. 5-a-day can come from a variety of sources — fresh, frozen and even tinned fruit and vegetables all contain essential nutrients. However, if you are buying tinned, stick to fruit in juice or vegetables in water.

But how big is a portion for children under five? When it comes to fruit, a portion is generally a whole piece of fruit e.g. a medium sized apple, banana or orange. If you’re talking about something small like peas or tinned corn, a portion would be roughly what would fit into your hand, or the size of 3 heaped tablespoons. For adults it’s about 80g.

One last clarification is needed: 5 portions a day, doesn’t mean eating 5 portions of fruit and 5 portions of vegetables per day. It usually comprises a combination of the two.

Improving children’s movement and motor skills

Movement and motor skills allow kids to enjoy sports and other physical activities whilst becoming fitter physically. Fundamental movement skills are important for children’s physical development. After perfecting these skills, children can go on to develop sport-specific and more complex movement skills later on.

These activities need not cost any money. Children can engage in physical games, make active stories, dig in the garden and so on. The key is to make such activities fun.
Babies’ brains are incomplete at birth but movement and physical activity play a significant role in creating nerve connections within the brain. These provide the foundations for all future learning, which includes learning at school. Therefore, even before a child can walk or talk, the child needs to begin setting the right foundations. Recent data shows that an increasing number of 3 year olds are behind in developing these skills. In contrast, Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is keen to get kids on the right track, right from the start. Following the Startwell programme guidelines helps us — and children — towards that aim.

Our extra-curricular classes

We also offer 3 extra-curricular classes:

  • Kitsacademy – A fun session, with qualified coaches, that teaches a range of skills including football, teamwork and coordination skills.
  • Rhythm Time – Weekly sessions, tailored to each age group, where children learn to develop skills including singing, socialising, speech and coordination.
  • Active Adventurers – Achieved through adventure stories, children develop motor skills, including balance and coordination, during multi-sport sessions.

More information

More details of Startwell itself can be found on their website at startwellbirmingham.co.uk. Here at Leaps and bounds, we are pleased to play our part and you can find details of this on our “About us” page. Contact Leaps and Bounds Day Nursery & Pre-school in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, if you’d like more information. That can be about anything including healthy eating, keeping children active and our approach to these. You may also want to discuss a possible place for your child at the nursery and pre-school. Call 0121 246 4922, send us a message here or book a visit here and we’ll be happy to help.

The above information is for guidance are only and does not constitute health advice.

Photo: Patrick Fore