Warning: not all first finger food products are great for little ones. In fact, some of them can be dangerous, failing safety standards.

Usually, babies are considered ready for solid food once they can already sit up straight without the need for back support, started teething and began putting objects in their mouth.

First finger food specifically designed for babies should not only meet the needed nutrition, but they should also be safe to eat. It should be soft and dissolve easily in the mouth and should be small enough to prevent choking.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has conducted tests on nine of these finger food products and the results reveal something disturbing. Not all of them passed the safety tests.

The team performed two related tests involving blinded researchers. In the first experiment, 11 people consumed the same food given at random: twice when the food was fresh and twice after it was left alone for about an hour. In the second round, the same procedure was done, except double the number of participants.

In both of these tests, the participants were instructed to consume the food without using their teeth, which meant the food should be allowed to dissolve in their mouths. The time it took for the food to become soft enough to be swallowed was also recorded.

The results of both tests, which will be presented during the annual meeting of pediatricians on May 2 in Baltimore, Maryland, showed that of all the nine finger food products tested, only two met the criteria for safety.

Further, four of the nine products increased the risk of choking because the food were not small enough to be bite-size for a baby. While two took a while to be dissolved after they were left to stand for some time.

This also shows that the products tested varies even if they were all marketed as fit for babies deemed ready for solid food.

"Products marketed as first finger foods vary across texture, ease of swallowing and size," said Dr. Nicol Awadalla, study's lead investigator. "Parents need to be aware that changes in consistency can occur in food products that are left out of the packaging for extended periods of time, resulting in a possible choking hazard."

The researchers had yet to name these products during the meeting presentation, but they had already notified the companies about the test results.

Photo: Monik Markus | Flickr

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