It’s important to know how to keep your grandbaby safe from foods that can cause harm.
Food. It’s the cause of many a disagreement between parents and grandparents. And it’s not just about Grandma sneaking a cookie to Junior before dinner! Dietary choices, feeding methods, food allergies and sensitivities, mealtime philosophies—there are so many issues that grandparents need to recognize.
Breast vs. bottle, baby-led weaning vs. starting with purees or vegan vs. omnivore: Today’s parents usually have strong feelings about how their baby is fed. Grandparents don’t always agree with their methods, but no matter what you think is right, it’s vital that you support your adult child’s decisions.
Unless your grandchild is showing signs of malnutrition, your role as a grandparent doesn’t extend to making decisions about how or when a child is fed. Make sure you know and respect the parents’ wishes about how their child is nourished. If you question what they are doing, learn about their chosen method so you can understand their reasoning.
Grandparents also need to be aware that food can be a safety issue. It’s important to know how to keep your grandbaby safe from foods that can cause harm. We’ve put together some food and feeding safety tips for you as a starting point, but you should always check in with parents to find out what's important to them.
The following food can cause serious illness in babies and should be avoided for the first year of a child’s life:
Honey: can cause botulism, a serious form of food poisoning. Avoid all foods containing honey, including yogurt, cereals and crackers, such as honey graham crackers.
Unpasteurized drinks or foods such as juices, milks (raw milk), yogurt, or cheeses may put babies at risk for E. coli, which can cause severe and life-threatening diarrhea.
Cow’s milk may put a baby at risk for intestinal bleeding. An infant’s kidneys cannot handle the proteins and minerals in fortified milk.
Juice is not recommended for babies under 12 months, as its high sugar content is of little nutritional value.
To help reduce allergies, solid food shouldn’t be introduced until six months of age. While we were usually instructed to introduce foods in a certain order, that’s no longer seen as important for most children.
Once a baby begins eating solid foods, it’s vital to be aware of the foods that are common choking hazards. This list includes:
These, and any other food that could block their airway, could cause choking. It’s a good idea to take a course on what to do if a child is choking, like the one offered here.
The way you feed your grandbaby is as important as what you feed him or her. It’s important to make sure food is cooked and prepared for your grandchild’s developmental stage. They should be sitting upright while eating, not crawling, reclining, or walking. Supervise your grandchildren closely while they are eating, and avoid giving them food in the car or stroller where you can’t see them at all times.
Being a prepared grandparent is the best gift you can give your grandchildren. While no amount of preparation can prevent all emergencies, knowing what the risks are is an important first step.
Want to join the club of truly prepared grandparents? New Grandparent Essentials contains more ways to prepare, including a guide to talking with parents about how you can support their feeding choices.