Introducing allergenic foods to babies
There has always been a lot of hype and speculation around introducing allergenic foods to babies such as eggs and peanuts. Recently, the guidelines have changed significantly and understandably there is a lot of confusion amongst parents as to when is the right time, and how to do it.
I often get asked by parents what is best, and so I am delighted to have the chance to write a guest blog all about this topic for Grabease!
By Caroline Partridge
What did we use to do?
Until recently, parents were told to delay introducing their children to foods such as egg and peanuts. Some people even suggested not introducing nuts until after the age of 5. There were concerns around choking, and beliefs that waiting until the child was older would mean that they were less likely to develop an allergy.
So what changed?
Basically, new evidence came to light. A lot of time and money was put into studying why there was suddenly such a rise in the incidence of childhood allergy. In Australia, 1 in 10 kids under the age of 1 have a food allergy. That number is shocking.
In working to discover why the rate of allergies had risen so fast, questions were asked and researched about what had changed. As well as about the guidelines suggesting waiting to introduce allergenic foods.
The new studies show a decreased likelihood of allergy in children who tried egg and peanuts under the age of 1. Once this evidence was reported, further research was undertaken, and subsequently, the infant feeding guidelines were updated by ASCIA (Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy)
The new guidelines?
The guidelines now suggest giving foods such as egg, tree nuts and peanuts to children between 6 and 10 months of age. Whole nuts pose a risk of choking and so should not be given. Nut butters are a great alternative and remove this choking risk. Egg should be well cooked, not raw.
My favourite first foods to give to baby are meat and eggs. After 6 months of age, infants, particularly those that are still exclusively breastfed can become deficient in iron and zinc. These foods are great sources of these minerals. They can be pureed, or served in suitable sized chunks for baby-led weaning also.
A few tips!
- Earlier in the day for trying new foods means less chance of a sleepless night
- Just try one new food at a time, then if something happens you will know where to start
- Give each new food at least 3 days before moving on to the next, a reaction may not happen on the first 1 or 2 tries
- Familiarise yourself with the symptoms of allergic reactions, allergy.org.au is an amazing resource
Caroline Partridge is the Aussie Allergy Mum, a fun-loving mum of two girls, who lives the allergy life daily and wants to help make the journey as easy as possible for others.