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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Foods to avoid: 4 to 12 months

As your baby grows, he'll be eager to sample food from your plate – and you'll be eager to introduce some variety to his diet. But not all foods are safe for your child. Some pose a choking hazard, and a few aren't good for your baby's still-developing digestive system.

Honey: Honey can harbor spores of Clostridium botulinum, which causes botulism. An adult's intestinal tract can prevent the growth of these spores, but in a baby the spores can grow and produce life-threatening toxins.

Peanut butter: The sticky consistency of peanut butter and other nut butters can make it tough for a young child to swallow safely.

Cow's milk: Stick with breast milk or formula until your child's first birthday. Why? Your baby can't digest the protein in cow's milk for the first year, it doesn't have all the nutrients he needs, and it contains minerals in amounts that can damage his kidneys.

Choking hazards to watch for

Large chunks: Pea-size pieces of food are safest — they won't get stuck in your child's throat. Vegetables like carrots, celery, and green beans should be diced, shredded, or cooked and cut up. Cut fruits like grapes, cherry tomatoes, and melon balls into quarters before serving. Cut meats and cheeses into very small pieces or shred them.

Small, hard foods: Nuts, popcorn, cough drops, hard candies, raisins, and other small dried fruit and seeds are potential choking hazards.

Soft foods: Soft foods like marshmallows and jelly candies can get lodged in your child's throat.

More choking prevention:

  • Avoid letting your child eat in the car. It's too hard to supervise while driving.
  • If you're using a rub-on teething medication, keep a close eye on your baby as it can numb his throat and interfere with swallowing.
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