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Food Safety for Babies' First Year

baby in high chair waving arms in the air, about to be fed with a spoon



Once you start giving your baby solid foods, it's important to know which foods can be dangerous. Here's some advice about what to avoid and how to practice food safety for babies.


Fish is a great source of protein for your baby. It's also an important source of omega 3 fats, which are critical for brain and eye development. Unfortunately, some fish contain mercury, which can harm your baby's development. Mercury can't be removed or reduced by cleaning, preparing or cooking - so choose fish carefully .

These types of fish are safe for your baby: rainbow trout, sole, anchovy, capelin, char, hake, herring, Atlantic mackerel, mullet, pollock (Boston bluefish), salmon, smelt, lake whitefish, blue crab, and shrimp or prawns. Canned light tuna is also safe.

These types of fish should be avoided: fresh/frozen tuna, shark, swordfish, marlin, orange roughy, escolar and canned Albacore tuna. For more information, see the HealthLink BC file Healthy Eating: Choose Fish Low in Mercury.


Honey may contain botulism spores that can make your baby sick. Do not give honey to a baby less than 12 months old. That includes adding honey to baby food or offering foods that contain honey, such as graham wafers. Never use honey on a soother - in addition to posing a health risk to young babies, honey can also cause tooth decay

The botulism spores in honey are not a risk for adults or children older than 12 months.


Do not offer your baby raw or lightly cooked sprouts (for example, alfalfa or mung bean sprouts). These sprouts may contain harmful bacteria. Check for sprouts in salads or sandwiches from restaurants and vending machines. Sprouts that are thoroughly cooked in stir fries or soups are safe for your child to eat.

Unpasteurized Cheese

Cheese is a healthy choice for babies over nine months old. Choose cheeses made from pasteurized milk; otherwise they may contain bacteria that can be deadly for young children. Cheese made from unpasteurized milk will say "unpasteurized" on the label.


If you heat foods in the microwave, make sure you do it safely. Microwaves heat unevenly, creating "hot spots" that can hurt your baby’s mouth.

To microwave food safely:

  • Stir or turn foods at least once midway through cooking or reheating.
  • Check the temperature of food by tasting it before giving it to your baby.
  • To reheat food in a microwave, heat to 88°C (190°F). Then allow it to stand covered for two minutes.

Undercooked Foods: Undercooked meat, poultry, fish, seafood and eggs can cause food poisoning. Cook all meats until  the internal temperature is 74°C . Braising, stewing and sautéing are good ways to cook meats thoroughly while keeping them easy to chew. Cook fish until it flakes with a fork (and check for bones). Cook eggs until hard, with no soft or runny yolk.

Resources & Links: 
HealthLink BC: Foodborne Illness and Safe Food Handling

Last Updated: August 6, 2013