Dr. Amber Brooks
"Healthy foods” for children: When are they unhealthy?
When we think of a “healthy” diet, what typically comes to mind is a lot of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, maybe milk, and no artificial sugars. But what is healthy for one person’s body, may not be for the next person. This is especially true when it comes to our young children’s health. A child’s immune system may be too weak to counteract seemingly harmless foods or maybe they cannot process and digest certain foods.
In this article, we will talk about 5 foods we suggest excluding from your child’s diet. At least until they are a little older, at which point their bodies will have built a strong immune system capable of tolerating more and you can do food testing to get the answers (after age 2).
Animal Protein (before age 1)
Protein is best introduced after the age of 1 and very slowly when started. It is best to avoid meat protein too early or in large amounts as it can be very difficult to digest for children. Do you have a child that refuses to eat meat? This is because it does not digest well and makes them feel bad. I LOVE meat when given in proper amounts, this is important for amino acids, and in turn brain function. I like parents to stick to organic, farm raised lean meats like chicken and turkey to start; red meat and pork can be very hard to break down and digest. It is all about building blocks and listening to their bodies.
Babies are unable to properly digest cow’s milk. Cow’s milk contains high concentrations of protein and minerals which can damage your baby’s immature kidneys. Cow’s milk doesn’t have the correct balance of iron, vitamin C, and other nutrients that are essential for growth. I do not suggest introduction of any casein (goat, sheep or cows milk) before testing at age 2. In cases of breastfeeding trouble or allergies I would consider goat milk as a formula option if appropriate, consult with your doctor for your particular child.
While it’s true fish is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids and protein, some types of fish are not appropriate to feed to children. Fish that are typically higher in mercury including tuna, swordfish, and mackerel, will harm the nervous system of the child. These types of fish are to be avoided in the early years.
Even though we love to see baby’s facial reaction to munching on a lemon, the high acidity in these fruits can irritate the sensitive stomach of young children. While citrus fruits are praised for their high vitamin C concentration, wait to introduce lemons, limes, grapefruit, and oranges until your child can tolerate them better.
Specific foods that cause bloating
Foods that are high in nutritional fibers can help us improve digestion but can also cause strong gasses and discomfort in babies and young children. While everyone is different, children may experience severe abdominal pain from the following foods: