Babies are supposed to be a part of family mealtime and have access to most of the foods you are eating. But there are some foods and liquids that should be avoided (or modified) to make mealtime safe for your baby. Here are five ways to transform ‘no-no’ foods and drinks into a safer option for your little one.
- Whole Grapes: Whole grapes can easily be inhaled by a baby, which can occlude their airway. They are considered a high choking risk food because their size, shape and skin texture are hard for babies to chew, so they will try to swallow it whole.
- Safer Option: Cut the grapes into quarters lengthwise making the grape a longer strip of moist flesh that babies can easily munch without teeth. Avoid cutting widthwise, as the thickness and shape will still be a choking risk. Cut in quarters for babies 6-12 months and in halves for kiddos 1-4 years.
- Cow’s Milk: Knowing when to offer cow’s milk can be tricky for parents. As a general rule, a baby (0-12 months) should not be drinking cow’s milk, but a toddler (12+ months) can. If you are cooking a family recipe that requires some cow’s milk, your baby can safely have some of that. But providing cow’s milk to drink as a replacement for breastmilk or formula is not safe.
- Safer Option: Developmentally, at six months of age you can offer your baby breastmilk or formula from an open cup. At around nine months you can introduce a straw cup. The ezpz Tiny Cup is a 2oz cup made of 100% food grade silicone that is perfectly sized for first sips. The ezpz Mini Cup + Straw Training System is a 4oz cup that has a training straw with sensory bumps. This feature helps keep baby’s lips at the tip of the straw for safe straw drinking.
- Whole Cherry Tomatoes: Although cherry tomatoes are a common first food in my Hispanic culture, they also pose a huge choking risk if served whole. Be vigilant when eating out in restaurants, as they often use whole cherry tomatoes as a garnish. A family I worked with in feeding therapy had this scenario happen at their favorite Mexican restaurant. Luckily, her parents had recently taken a CPR course and responded quickly and successfully.
- Safer Option: Just like grapes, cut cherry tomatoes into quarters lengthwise, making them easier for baby to pick up and chew.
4. Honey: Many families I work with want to add honey in their baby’s yogurt or put it on their toast. I explain that honey can contain the bacteria that causes botulism (a type of poisoning), which makes it unsafe for babies under 12 months.
- Safer Option: Add homemade fruit puree (no chunks) into yogurt or spread on toast. Offer honey only after your little one is past the one-year mark.
- Juice: As an infant feeding specialist, I don't recommend juice (or even watered-down juice) for babies under 12 months of age. Developmentally, babies (6 months of age and older) can and should consume fruit in safe soft strips (if you're using a baby-led weaning approach) or in pureed form (if you're using a traditional approach) rather than fruit juice. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends completely avoiding the use of juice in infants before 1 year of age. And both the AAP and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry explain that juice and even watered-down juice places a baby at risk for dental caries (cavities + tooth decay). In my clinical experience, caries is one of the most common reasons for picky eating.
- Safer Option: Offer over ripened fruits that are soft and easy for your baby to munch and chew. Serve them in sticks the size and width of an adult pinky finger. For smaller fruits like blueberries, quarter the larger ones and cut the smaller ones in half.
Safe mealtime routines with your baby will build trust and strengthen their relationship with food (and drinks). Which safer alternative will you choose with your baby this month? #ezpzfunme