There are many foods that you can introduce to your baby after six months. Be careful not to give them too much of any of the following foods though, since their kidneys and immune system are not yet fully developed.
Babies’ kidneys are too immature to process and get rid of salt, so it can be dangerous to give your baby salt in their food. Don’t add extra salt and if they eat with the family take out your baby’s portion (or portions if you want to freeze a batch) before you add an appropriate amount of salt for the rest of the family.
Babies under one year old should be eating less than 1g of salt per day – bear this in mind with salty and processed foods (the latter might adhere to salt limits for adults, but don’t assume they are suitable for babies).
Stock cubes and bought gravy granules often have high levels of salt, so do not use them when cooking for your baby. Also be aware that lots of ready meals might taste quite sweet, but may have lots of added salt. Check the ingredients so you can be sure your baby isn’t getting too much.
Your baby doesn’t need sugar in his diet. Your little one will get plenty of naturally occurring sugars in the fruits they eat. You can add breast or formula milk to foods if you need to sweeten them. Avoid sugary drinks and sweets, as your baby may develop a sweet tooth and be at greater risk of obesity and tooth decay. For more information about sugar, look at our article ‘How to make sure your baby isn’t having too much sugar’.
Many ready meals and takeaway foods have lots of sugar, often in the form of high fructose corn syrup. These are hard for the body to metabolise and are turned into fat. There is increasing evidence that these hidden sugars are partly responsible for the increase in obesity in Western countries since the mid-20th century.
Avoid giving your child whole nuts, which are a choking hazard, until they turn five. Nut butters are fine to give your baby after six months, but if you have a history of allergies in the family talk to your doctor first.
In rare cases, honey can contain the spores of Clostridium botulinum. This substance can produce toxins in the intestine that can make babies seriously ill. Therefore you should avoid honey until after your baby is 12 months old. In addition, honey is full of sugars, which can cause tooth decay.
Low-fat or diet foods
Babies need fats in their diet for brain and eye development. The Department of Health recommends babies have full-fat milk, yogurt and cheese. Also, low-fat foods often contain lots of sugar to ‘improve’ the flavour, which isn’t good for babies.
Fish at the top of the food chain accumulate mercury, which is bad for brain development and the nervous system. So it isn’t recommended to give your baby fish like shark, swordfish or marlin.
This can contain bacteria that cause nasty and intense food poisoning. Babies have a weaker immune system than adults, so the Department of Health recommends not giving them raw shellfish such as oysters.
Eggs can be given to babies over six months old (though they are a high-allergy food so be careful when you introduce them). Eggs need to be cooked through (both white and yolk) until your baby is over 12 months, as they can contain salmonella bacteria that can cause nasty food poisoning. Also avoid foods containing raw or undercooked eggs, like homemade chocolate mousse and homemade mayonnaise