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I know you're not supposed to feed 6 month olds fresh strawberries. But, are cooked processed foods like strawberry flavor yogurt melts ok? What are the rules on introducing strawberries and strawberry flavored items?

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3 Answers 3

When my girl was a baby, berries were on the "avoid" list because at the time, there were fears that early exposure would lead to allergies. More recent thought on the matter though, is that a lack of exposures might contribute to allergies so strawberries have actually been removed from the "no no list" and because they are so nutritious added back into the mix of wonderful foods baby can and should eat (with a few precautions). You'll now find pre-made infant purees with apples and strawberry, blueberry, strawberry and pears, and I even saw one that was a food pouch with spinach, strawberries and rice.

If there is a family history of trouble with allergies, particularly to strawberries, or a family history of atopic dermatitis, you will want to consult the child's pediatrician about specific foods to use extra caution with.

The thing you do need to be careful about berries with is their skins, as they can be a choking hazard so babies six months and up should be introduced to strawberries carefully and watchfully. Make sure berries are pureed or only given in very small chunks. Since you are asking about yogurt melts that is unlikely to be a problem.

Since strawberries also contain a lot of acid (very high in vitamin C) they can also irritate a baby's sensitive and still young digestive system. It is recommended that strawberries be later on the introduction list than rice, oats, and some of the extremely easy to digest foods (like pears and sweet potato). It is also better to serve them with something else such as yogurt or oatmeal (Most dairy should be avoided until they are about a year old. However, lactose is broken down in yogurt and some cheeses in the process of turning it into these other foods, so these can often be introduced sooner than one year making yogurt melts an especially easy snack for a baby).

Anything I've found online regarding avoiding strawberries for baby has dates from 2011 and earlier. My information about allergies comes from the pediatrician of the infant I care for and I highly recommend you discuss your solid foods introduction order and methods with your child's pediatrician in order to get the most accurate and up-to-date information

You will find one comprehensive article about babies and all the details about introducing them to their first solids on WebMD here and allergy information on the same site WebMD here. It has tidbits such as the following and is incredibly thorough.

Each time you introduce a new solid food, wait about three days to see if it causes an allergic reaction. Don’t introduce anything new during that time; this way, if your baby develops hives, a rash, or a more serious reaction, you’ll know which food caused it.

As for the yogurt melts themselves. Gerber Graduates has a system for labeling foods in terms of baby "readiness" and the experts at Gerber have deemed this particular food as a good one for the "crawler" stage which is the third stage after introducing baby to solids. If your baby has been eating solids for a couple of months already, chews food and is crawling than he/she is probably ready and able for this food. However, it is definitely not a good starter food and comes in fairly large chunks - they are intended to help a baby begin to self feed so baby needs to have pincer grasp skills started in addition to be ready digestively. Though the chunks melt in the baby's mouth, they really are intended for the slightly more experienced eater so if your baby has only just started on solid foods, you might want to wait just a bit longer. Really, if you can keep things as fresh and unprocessed as possible for as long as possible, you are helping your baby have the best nutrition possible anyway.

For all the information from Gerber, check here.

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1  
+1 for beating me to posting the same links. Great minds think alike. I added my bit below- a few lines too long for a comment I'd say. –  Jax Feb 26 at 4:01
    
It might be helpful for others to know that our lactose-intolerant baby has never had any trouble with cheese since introduced to it, but has had mixed experiences with yogurt. I don't know what is behind it, but some yogurts he has had strong intestinal reactions to (even from Gerber products). –  called2voyage Feb 26 at 16:00
    
Great answer. I would note that the Gerber labels are a bit conservative, at least for my children (which both were large and aggressively developed physically, so perhaps that's why). Babies are very different, so don't take as gospel things like levels (or even what we say!); my first loved mushy things and didn't do finger foods until 6-7 months, while my second by 6 months was eating whole (soft) vegetables like broccoli. Experiment cautiously, but experiment nonetheless, and see what works for your child. –  Joe Feb 26 at 22:03
    
I know, but I mean, my youngest was eating whole vegetables before he was crawling. Gerber's guidelines are conservative, is all (which they should be); I've known parents who take them as hard and fast rules (sort of like safety warnings). –  Joe Feb 26 at 22:06

@balanced mama's answer covers everything I was going say, but, I would add that any time you add a new food, you should aim for the purest form of the food. As in, it should be by itself, or, at least have very few other ingredients. Strawberry Yogurt melts typically have several ingredients, many of them processed, and so IF your baby has a reaction to it, how would you know if it was the strawberry, or, one of the other ten ingredients? Additionally, I don't even see 'strawberries' in any form specifically listed on the ingredient list (of the Gerber brand), which means the strawberry flavor comes from the 'natural flavors'- which, could be anything.

I would stay away from processed, flavored, multi- ingredient foods at this stage and stick to whole, natural (real natural, not "natural" labeled), single or maybe two-ingredient foods. That way, if something does happen, you can be sure of the real culprit. If you've never read labels before, you should start now, at least for your child's foods.

Last point- I suggest that you keep a diary or a journal of which foods you introduce, and watch for fussiness, gas, bouts of crying, etc. and record any of the above. Unless the food causes a severe reaction, in which case you would avoid it altogether, wait a day or two to try it again, even if there was some unpleasantness the first time. Sometimes it's a coincidence, and other times it's just due to the fact that babies sometimes need to try a food more than once before they decide they like it.

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Apparently I only just barely beat you to the punch :-) –  balanced mama Feb 26 at 22:02

The only thing I'd add is that yogurt is great for kids, yogurt melts less so because they are usually very sweet. Why are you wanting to give these? If it's because they're good for teething, I'd say that is okay, although odds are you can come up with something better - plain crushed or smaller cube ice is excellent, for example, or any of several (chilled) fruits and vegetables, perhaps in a cheesecloth or similar "fruit baggie". If it's to get used to a certain texture, then that's okay also, as long as they are occasional after the first few days.

However, if it's as a common treat, I don't recommend it. Sweets early on lead to 'sweet tooth' later in life - we were better with our first than our second, and it shows in their diets and preferences. Yogurt melts are no better than a cupcake for an infant, and should be given as rarely.

Also, for strawberries specifically, expect significant redness in the face. As long as it's in areas likely covered by external strawberry, that's not a sign of allergy, just a sign of an acidic food irritating the skin in a harmless (and painless) way, as long as you wash it off afterwards. Tomatoes are similar; I've yet to see a baby that doesn't get some redness around his/her face after eating a tomato. However, if the redness/blotchiness occurs in further away areas, or gets worse over time (ie, 3rd time he/she eats, 4th time, etc., it is worse than before), it may be a sign of allergy (my oldest had/perhaps has a mild eggplant allergy, which we only noticed late because his forehead was getting red, which was certainly out of the splash zone).

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