Your pregnancy and baby guide

Foods to avoid giving your baby

Salt

Babies shouldn't eat much salt, as it isn't good for their kidneys. Don't add salt to your baby's food and don't use stock cubes or gravy, as they're often high in salt.

Remember this when you're cooking for the family if you plan to give the same food to your baby.

Sugar

Your baby doesn't need sugar. By avoiding sugary snacks and drinks (including fruit juice and other fruit drinks), you'll help prevent tooth decay.

Use mashed banana or other fruits, breast milk or formula milk to sweeten food, if needed.

Honey

Occasionally, honey contains bacteria that can produce toxins in a baby's intestines, leading to infant botulism, which is a very serious illness.

It's best not to give your child honey until they're 1 year old. Honey is a sugar, so avoiding it'll also help prevent tooth decay.

Nuts

Whole nuts, including peanuts, shouldn't be given to children under 5, as they can choke on them.

As long as there's no history of food allergies or other allergies in your family, you can give your baby peanuts once they're 6 months old, as long as they're crushed or ground into peanut butter.

Raw jelly cubes

Raw jelly cubes can be a choking hazard for babies and young children. If you're making jelly from raw jelly cubes, make sure you always follow the manufacturers' instructions.

'Low-fat' foods

Fat is an important source of calories and some vitamins for babies and young children. It's better for babies and young children up to the age of 2 to have full-fat milk, yoghurt and cheese, rather than low-fat varieties.

See What to feed young children for more information.

Saturated fat

Don't give your child too many foods that are high in saturated fat, such as crisps, biscuits and cakes.

Checking the nutrition labels on foods can help you choose foods that are low in saturated fat. See more on food labels.

Cheese

Cheese can form part of a healthy, balanced diet for babies and young children, and provides calcium, protein and vitamins such as vitamin A.

Babies can eat pasteurised full-fat cheese from 6 months old. This includes hard cheeses, such as mild cheddar cheese, cottage cheese and cream cheese.

Full-fat cheeses and dairy products are recommended up to the age of 2, as young children need fat and energy to help them grow.

Babies and young children shouldn't eat mould-ripened soft cheeses such as brie or camembert, ripened goats' milk cheese such as chèvre, and soft blue veined cheese such as roquefort.

These cheeses may be made from unpasteurised milk and may therefore carry bacteria called listeria.

You can check labels on cheeses to make sure they're made from pasteurised milk.

But these cheeses can be used as part of a cooked recipe as listeria is killed by cooking – baked brie, for example, is a safer option.

Shark, swordfish and marlin

Don't give your baby shark, swordfish or marlin. The amount of mercury in these fish can affect the development of a baby's nervous system.

Raw shellfish

Raw shellfish can increase the risk of food poisoning, so it's best not to give it to babies.

Raw and lightly cooked eggs

Babies over 6 months can have eggs.

If the eggs are hens' eggs and they have a red lion stamped on them, or you see a red lion with the words "British Lion Quality" on the box, it's fine for your baby to have them raw (for example, in homemade mayonnaise) or lightly cooked.

Hens' eggs that don't have the red lion mark should be cooked until both the white and yolk are solid. So should duck, goose or quail eggs.

Further information

Page last reviewed: 24/09/2015
Next review due: 24/09/2018