Bird's nest, ginseng, pearl powder for your baby? Here's what you should know

Bird’s nest soup with minced chicken, egg white and bamboo pith. A handout photo.
PHOTO: South China Morning Post

Should you introduce bird's nest soup to your baby? How about ginseng and pearl powder?

The answer is: No, no, no. Here's why.

Bird's nest

Pricey as it may be, bird's nest is an allergenic food that can cause symptoms such as vomiting, rashes and abdominal pains.

This is especially so if other family members are allergic to the protein found in it.

That's why Charlotte Lin, senior dietitian at National University Hospital, suggests introducing this Chinese delicacy to your child only after he turns one.


The doting grandma may want to brew double-boiled ginseng soup for the family, but this is one herb you'll want your baby to steer clear of unless advised otherwise by a physician.

"Panax ginseng is unsafe for kids and can cause infant death as a result of intoxication," cautions Charlotte.

Senior physician Zhou Yan from Eu Yan Sang explains: "Some physicians may advise against eating particular types of ginseng when the baby suffers from qi deficiency.

"But even for healthy babies, long-term consumption is not recommended, as it may bring about early puberty."

Pearl powder

When you were little, your mother may have lured you with the promise of radiant skin as she made you down a vial of it.

Truth be told, the preparation of crushed pearls is not a health supplement.

"It's a mineral that can be difficult for a baby's digestive system to absorb," explains Zhou Yan.

"It should be consumed only under the advice of a physician, and is often reserved for treatment of more serious ailments like spasms or extremely high fevers."

She warns that children with G6PD deficiency must steer clear of it.

This article was first published in Young Parents.