Foods to avoid
Do not give babies or young children the following foods.
Snacks and sweets
Babies and young children should not have:
- jelly cubes
- boiled sweets (or any hard, gooey or sticky sweets, including cough sweets)
- peanut butter by itself
- chewing gum
- ice cubes
These are all choking hazards.
Sugary snacks can also cause tooth decay and should be avoided. You don't need to add sugar to your baby's food either.
This includes foods like:
- chips with extra salt
- ready-meals and takeaways
- gravy or meals made with stock cubes
Babies should not eat salty foods as it is not good for their kidneys. There's also no need to add salt to their food.
Whole nuts and peanuts
When left whole, nuts can get stuck in the throat and cause choking. They should be crushed or flaked for children under 5 years.
Honey should be completely avoided until your baby is 12 months old. It contains bacteria that can lead to infant botulism, which can make your baby seriously unwell.
Soft cheeses can contain a bacteria called listeria and should not be given to babies or young children. This includes:
- mould-ripened soft cheese, like brie or camembert
- ripened goats' milk cheese, such as chévre
- soft blue-veined cheese, like roquefort
- unpasteurised cheeses – these have a heightened risk of listeria, so check the labels to make sure you're buying cheese made from pasteurised milk
Children should only eat shellfish that has been thoroughly cooked. Raw shellfish can increase the risk of food poisoning.
Shark, swordfish or marlin
These fish contain high levels of mercury, which can affect your baby's growing nervous system.
Pâté made from meat, fish or vegetables can cause food poisoning.
Drinks to avoid
Many drinks are too high in sugar for babies and young children, but there other reasons some drinks should be avoided too.
Fruit juice and smoothies
These are high in sugar, so it's best to avoid them before your baby is 12 months.
If you do choose to offer them, dilute with water (1 part juice to 10 parts water) and offer with a meal in an open cup/free-flow beaker to avoid tooth decay.
Squash, fizzy drinks and flavoured milk
These types of drinks contain lots of sugar even if they are diluted and can cause tooth decay. Diet or reduced-sugar drinks are not recommended for babies and toddlers either.
For older babies and toddlers, these drinks can fill your child up so they're not hungry for healthier food. Offer sips of water from a cup with meals instead.
Follow-on formula, growing-up milks and goodnight milks
These milks are not suitable for babies under 6 months and are unnecessary after 6 months.
For babies, cows' milk does not have the right balance of nutrients so should not be given as a drink before 12 months. However, It's OK to use small amounts in cooking.
Unpasteurised milk or raw milk
These types of milk contain harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
Rice drinks can contain too much arsenic. Avoid them altogether until your child is at least 5 years old.
Unsweetened, calcium-fortified plant-based drinks
These should be avoided before your baby is 12 months old. They include drinks made from:
They can be given from 12 months on as part of a healthy balanced diet.
Cows' milk and dairy foods are good sources of nutrients, so it's important not to cut them out of your child's diet without first speaking to a GP or dietitian.
'Baby' and herbal drinks
Drinks like these usually contain sugars and are not recommended.
Tea, coffee and other caffienated drinks
Caffeine is not suitable for babies or young children.
There's risk that hot drinks can cause scalding.
Lots of parents wonder when and how to start introducing solid foods – find out the signs they may be ready, when and how much to feed them and what equipment you'll need!