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Foods and Drinks to Limit

Healthy eating is all about balance. There is no need to add salt or sugar to your child’s food. There are also some foods and drinks that are not safe for your child to eat and others that are not as healthy choices as other foods.

Foods to Avoid

A small bowl of honey. Do not give children younger than 12 old honey because it may cause a type of food poisoning called botulism.

Here are examples of foods and drinks that you should avoid giving to your young child because they may be harmful:

  • Honey: may cause a serious type of food poisoning called botulism for your young child under 12 months old.
  • Unpasteurized drinks or foods (such as juices, milks, yogurt, or cheeses): may put your child at risk for E. coli, a harmful bacteria that can cause severe diarrhea. Do not give your child unpasteurized drinks or foods like juice, milk, yogurt, or cheeses. Unpasteurized milk can also be called raw milk.
  • Fortified cow’s milk: may put your young child under 12 months old at risk for intestinal bleeding. It also has too many proteins and minerals for your infant’s kidneys to handle and does not have the right amount of nutrients your infant needs.
A small bowl of honey. Do not give children younger than 12 old honey because it may cause a type of food poisoning called botulism.

These are just examples of foods and drinks and do not include all possible foods and drinks to avoid. Talk with your child’s doctor or nurse if you have more questions about which foods to avoid.

Foods to Limit

Here are some examples of foods to limit (or give in small amounts) to your child:

  • Foods with added sugars: Foods such as candy, cakes, cookies, and ice cream are often high in added sugars. The American Heart Association recommends that children younger than 24 months old are not given any added sugars.
  • Foods high in salt, also known as sodium: Foods such as some canned foods, processed meats (such as lunch meats, sausages, hot dogs, ham), and frozen dinners can be high in sodium. Some snack foods are high in sodium. Check the Nutrition Facts Label to find foods with less sodium.

Drinks to Limit

Here are some examples of drinks to limit (or give in small amounts) to your child:

  • Juice
    • A generic can of soda being held in a pour position, with sugar flowing from it. Children younger than 24 months old should not be given foods or drinks with added sugar.

      Before 12 months old: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children should not drink 100% juice before they are 12 months old. Do not provide drinks like juice drinks with added sweeteners. Fruits are healthier options for your child than fruit juices.

    • After 12 months old: For children older than 12 months who drink juice, pediatricians recommend 4 ounces or less of 100% juice a day. Drink 100% fruit juice only. Do not provide drinks like juice drinks with added sweeteners. Fruits are healthier options for your child than fruit juices.
  • Cow’s Milk
    • After your child is 12 months old, too much fortified cow’s milk can mean he or she may not be hungry for other foods that contain important nutrients. Some experts say that consuming too much fortified cow’s milk can make it harder for your child’s body to absorb the iron they need from foods.
  • Soda, pop, fruit drinks, flavored milks, or other sugar sweetened beverages
    • These drinks contain a lot of added sugars. The American Heart Association recommends that children younger than 24 months old are not given any added sugars.
A generic can of soda being held in a pour position, with sugar flowing from it. Children younger than 24 months old should not be given foods or drinks with added sugar.
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