Table of Contents
Discover the 23 forbidden foods for babies and children according to their age.
Parents are very concerned about our children’s diet, and we try to ensure that it is always as healthy and balanced as possible, avoiding foods with little nutritional value or that are harmful to their health, both in the short and long term.
But in addition to foods that are not recommended, some foods are prohibited in the children’s diet, depending on the age of the child.
We have prepared a list of the food restrictions that you should take into account and the reasons that the experts offer. It is organized by age range, so that what a six-year-old child cannot consume, neither can a younger one.
Until the first year, the baby’s main food is milk, both breast and artificial. But babies under one year of age should not be offered cow’s milk because of the excess protein and minerals they contain, which can cause an overload on their kidneys.
The proteins of human milk, as well as those of adapted formula milk, have the exact qualities and proportions for babies, so not only is it not necessary to incorporate any other drink into their diet, but it can also be harmful to their health.
Vegetable drinks made from oats, quinoa, rice, soy, coconut, almonds … should not be included in the diet of children under one year of age according to the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (except, of course, for vegetable formulas adapted for infants sold in pharmacies under medical prescription).
Above this age, pediatricians advise offering it promptly and as one more food within a varied and balanced diet, that is, without substituting others with greater nutritional value such as cow’s milk, and of course breast milk.
When for a health issue, cow’s milk is replaced by vegetable drinks, the diet must be supervised by a doctor or nutritionist, who ensures a correct protein and calcium intake.
Salt is not suitable for the kidneys of babies in the process of maturation, in addition to altering the taste of foods that they are discovering for the first time. So when we cook for our babies, remember that it is not necessary to add salt to their meals and if we offer processed foods (for example, baby food), we must take into account the labeling:
High salt content: 1.25 gr. of salt or 0.5 gr. of sodium for every 100 gr. of product.
Low salt content: less than 0.25 grams. of salt or 0.1 of sodium for every 100 grs. of product.
Sugar, under any of its names, is a completely unnecessary food, both in the diet of children and in that of adults.
It is cariogenic, demineralizes, does not provide anything nutritionally, is addictive, and is also directly associated with childhood obesity. So, the goal is to delay its introduction as long as possible, and never offer it before the first year.
The Spanish Association of Pediatrics, the American Association of Pediatrics, and the National Institute of Health in the US recommend not giving honey or cane honey to children under 12 months, due to the risk of botulism, a disease of low prevalence, but potentially fatal.
But it is also not advisable to offer this food to children under three years of age since honey is highly cariogenic, that is, it increases the risk of suffering from cavities. If even so, you decide to give a child older than 12-18 months a little honey, it is important to take extreme oral hygiene measures below.
The Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition and the Spanish Association of Pediatrics recommend not including spinach as the only dish in the baby’s diet, as they contain high levels of nitrates that can be very harmful to their health.
Its toxicity is determined by its reduction of nitrites in the human body which, in high concentrations, can cause methemoglobinemia. In children and especially babies, minimal amounts would be sufficient to trigger serious disorders. Those infants and young children who are exposed to high concentrations of nitrates through the diet can suffer from “blue baby syndrome”.
As with spinach, chard also contains high levels of nitrates that are harmful to the health of children, and should not be offered as a single dish to children under 12 months.
But in case you want to include Swiss chard (or spinach) in a baby’s diet, the Spanish Agency for Food Safety recommends that the content of these vegetables is not more than 20% of the total content of 23 forbidden foods for babies and children according to their age food ration.
Beetroot is another of the vegetables prohibited by the Nutrition Committee of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics during the baby’s first year of life, for the same reason as the previous two: its high levels of nitrates.
From this age, and until the child is three years old, it is recommended not to give more than one serving of these vegetables per day, and to avoid their consumption in children with gastrointestinal infections.
Algae are foods with large amounts of iron and calcium, but also an excess of iodine, which can cause serious health problems. For this reason, they are prohibited in the diet of babies, and experts recommend that some varieties such as arame, kombu, and hiziki also not be offered to children under five years of age.
The Nutrition Committee of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics includes spicy or highly spiced foods within the food restrictions for children under one year of age. The reason is simple: just like us adults, children want to eat food with a pleasant taste, and their palates are not used to strong and spicy flavors. In addition, they could develop adverse reactions.
From the first year of life, if spicy or spicy dishes are consumed at home, we can begin to offer them to our child with great caution, in minimum quantities, and as long as the child does not find them unpleasant.
Energy drinks offer large amounts of sugar, caffeine, and taurine, and their consumption is associated with a higher rate of obesity, headaches, sleep problems, stomach problems, and behavioral disorders.
In reality, these types of drinks should not be consumed at any stage of life, as they only provide empty and poor quality calories, but the Nutrition Committee of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics prohibits their consumption in children under one year of age.
Carbonated drinks or soft drinks are another of the restrictions made by the Nutrition Committee of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics on children under 12 months since they contain such an amount of sugar that it far exceeds the WHO recommendations.
This translates into a greater predisposition to suffer from childhood overweight and obesity, as well as other related diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, and high triglycerides. In addition, the gas contained in this type of drink produces gastric distention, reducing appetite and sometimes causing abdominal pain.
From 12 months of age, children can start drinking cow’s milk, but it must be whole since the milk fat favors the absorption of vitamins A and D, as well as is important for their growth.
However, from the age of three, the Spanish Association of Primary Care Pediatrics recommends that dairy products become semi-skimmed, a consideration that we must also take into account if the child has cholesterol problems, and consumes a lot of dairy products, or is overweight.
According to the Spanish Consumer Agency, Food Safety, the heads of prawns, prawns, and Norway lobsters contain cadmium inside, so consumption should be avoided in children under three years of age and limited to the maximum in the rest of the population.
Cadmium is a metal that accumulates in the body and can cause long-term damage, both in the liver and especially in the kidneys, and can cause kidney damage.
But cadmium is not only found in the heads of certain shellfish but is also present in the viscera of the shells of the body of crabs and spider crabs, thus being another of the foods prohibited in children under three years of age.
“Consumers of this type of product should be aware that the consumption of these parts of crustaceans can lead to unacceptable exposure to cadmium, particularly when consumption is habitual” – we can read in a report prepared by the Spanish Consumer Agency, Food Safety.
They are small, round, and do not melt in the mouth, which is why nuts are one of the foods most likely to cause choking. The Spanish Association of Pediatrics recommends not offering them whole to children, at least until they are five or six years old, and always with caution. However, this food can be ground for six months, as it is an excellent source of calcium and other nutrients.
Children under six years of age and pregnant women should not consume meat from animals hunted with lead ammunition, as lead is not directly absorbed and could cause neuronal damage.
At the end of 2019, the AECOSAN raised the recommended age to start consuming large fish such as swordfish (or emperor), shark, or pike, from three to ten years, due to their high mercury content. For children from 10 years old to 14 years old, the consumption of these species should be limited to 120 grams per month.
Excessive consumption of methylmercury has a toxic effect on health since it accumulates and can cause neurological and brain damage. Therefore, it is also recommended that pregnant or lactating women avoid consuming these fish.
Bluefin tuna is another of the large fish prohibited in the diet of children under ten years of age and pregnant women, as it also contains amounts of methylmercury that are highly toxic to the body, although in lower concentration than the previous fish.
In any case, it is preferable to opt for smaller fish such as anchovies and sardines, or canned light tuna.
Raw or undercooked fish and shellfish (for example, sushi) should not be consumed at any stage of life but should be avoided especially in children and pregnant women, as it hinders digestion and carries the risk of transmitting anisakids, a parasite in a form of worm that nests in marine mammals, fish, and crustaceans, and can cause severe allergic reactions and infections.
The most effective measure to kill Anisakis larvae and prevent their spread is to buy frozen fish (deep-frozen on the high seas) or freeze it at home for a minimum of 72 hours at -20º.
Meat is a very perishable food that needs refrigeration and proper cooking to eliminate any germs that can cause food poisoning.
Toxoplasmosis, trichinosis, salmonellosis, listeria, and E.coli are the main diseases that can be transmitted with the consumption of raw or undercooked meat, so it is essential that when cooking it, the temperature inside reaches 65- 70º.
Raw milk, that is, the one that has not been pasteurized, contains bacteria such as E.Coli, Salmonella, or Listeria that can cause serious health damage, especially in the case of pregnant women, children and people with the system weakened immune.
It is very important to be aware of the serious risks associated with the consumption of this type of unpasteurized dairy product (such as soft cheeses made with raw milk ), in addition to knowing that boiling raw milk is not enough to make it safe.
The consumption of raw eggs is one of the main sources of contagion of salmonella, a bacterium that can put life at serious risk, especially if we are talking about babies or very young children. Among its many symptoms, salmonellosis causes severe vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and urgent medical attention.
So raw eggs (in mayonnaise, sauces, meringues) or undercooked eggs (for example, soft-boiled eggs or undercooked tortillas) are not safe in children’s diets.