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What foods should I avoid with baby-led weaning?

Julie Clark

Baby-led weaning expert


The good news is that there are very few foods that you need to avoid giving your baby, whether you’re doing baby-led weaning (BLW) or giving your baby purees. However, there are some foods you should avoid altogether or severely limit. The first is honey.

Honey can contain a spore of a bacterium called clostridium botulinum, which can cause infant botulism, a potentially fatal illness. Don’t offer your baby honey until she is at least one year old.

The other most important food to avoid or at least severely limit is salt. Your baby’s immature kidneys can only cope with less than 1g (0.4g sodium) of salt in a 24-hour period. A teaspoon of salt is 6g and the average slice of bread contains 0.5g.

When preparing meals for your baby, it’s important not to add any salt in the cooking process. Avoid giving your baby foods that are high in salt, like adult breakfast cereals and shop-bought pasta sauces. Crackers, biscuits, ready-made soups and cured meats like bacon can also be high in salt, so try to avoid giving these to your baby.

Sugar is another important food to limit in your baby’s diet. Your baby will get all of the natural sugar she needs from fruit, vegetables, carbohydrates and milk, so it’s best not to give her any sugary snacks or drinks.

Watch out for hidden sugars in foods, such as fruit-flavoured yoghurts, pasta sauces, ketchup and even baked beans. Offer your baby full-fat natural yoghurts instead and cook pasta sauces from scratch if you can.

Avoid giving your baby fruit juices, squashes and flavoured water or milk, which all contain sugar. Water, and breastmilk or formula milk are all your child needs for the first year. After that she can have full-fat cow’s milk, sheep’s milk or goat’s milk as a drink.

Food allergies are common in babies. Your baby is more likely to have a food allergy if you or your partner has a family history of allergies, or if she has another allergic condition, such as eczema, asthma or hay fever.

The most common food allergies in babies and young children are milk, eggs and nuts such as peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds. If you’re introducing meals or products with any of these foods to your baby, watch her carefully for signs of a reaction and contact your GP if you think she may be allergic. Severe reactions to food are rare, but if you suspect your baby is having a severe allergic reaction to something, call an ambulance straight away.

Finally, there are certain foods that have an increased risk of choking. For this reason, whole nuts are not recommended as suitable for your child until she’s five years old. However, nuts are a good source of essential fats and nutrients so unless your child is allergic, you can use ground nuts and nut butters from six months.

Foods that are small and round, such as grapes, cherry tomatoes and large blueberries should be cut in half lengthways. Make sure that any fish you offer your baby is boneless and that fruit with a stone is pitted before giving it to your baby.

More baby-led weaning advice:

Last reviewed: July 2017
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