October 13th, 2010

{into the mouth of babes} Introducing High Allergen Foods

peanuts

There is much more awareness of and sensitivity to food allergies these days—a great thing!—but, along with that, seems to have come fear of high allergen foods. Especially when it comes to feeding babies.

Keeping our children safe is, of course, the most important thing, so it’s good to know which foods are high allergen, how to introduce them and what to do if your child has an allergic reaction. It’s also important to take the fear out of feeding. And that means having a healthy perspective on foods, even those that are high allergen.

In 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a clinical report indicating that there is no proven benefit in delaying solids, even high allergen foods, beyond 4- to 6-months*. That means that, especially if your child has no personal or family history of food allergies, you can share any and all healthy, whole foods with your baby. Yes. ANY. Strawberries. Eggs. Even (gasp) peanuts.

This does not mean that your child won’t necessarily have an allergic reaction. They may. But the point is that starting early won’t create an allergy. And some medical professionals believe that there is an advantage to knowing sooner rather than later. Not to mention the possible preventative benefits to feeding high allergen foods early.

All this to say that it’s safe and responsible to consider feeding high allergen foods as early as 6 months. That doesn’t mean you have to, but you can and, if you’re up to it, it’s worth it. It makes it possible to expose your baby to a much greater variety of foods at a critical time in the development of their taste buds.

If you’re thinking about introducing high allergen foods early on, be sure to speak to your pediatrician about what’s best for your child. You can also peep my tips for introducing high allergen baby food. They are designed to help you determine if you’re ready to take the plunge and how you can go through the process… all with ease.

And remember: the bottom line is that YOU feel comfortable. Because, above all, feeding should be healthy, fun and stress-free so that baby can learn to love mealtime!

*Note: The report does not suggest solid food for babies before 4- to 6-months-old. Also, honey and any foods avoided during pregnancy (e.g., cured and deli meat, raw meat or fish, unpasteurized dairy) should be delayed until after 12-months-old for health—not allergy—risk.

3 Responses

  1. christina says:

    I FULLY believe in this strategy and even though my son was born before this “new” approach was supported by the AAP, I practiced it with him. I always try to think WWED (What Would Europeans Do) and I went with it. LOL It was nerve wracking, just because we are so conditioned to believe in the old approach. But I gotta say, it makes sense and once your over the scary part, it makes cooking for your entire family (young and old) SO much more fun and exciting! My advice to parents is to take a deep breath. Make sure you are in a place where you are comfortable should any reaction take place (in other words, don’t pop a peanut into your kids mouth while you are on-line at Starbucks) and go for it. Better to know earlier than later. Great post, as usual Stacie!

    LOVE U!

    C

  2. Lana says:

    My only advice, as the parent of a food allergic toddler, would be to have some children’s antihistamine on hand when trying new foods. We had NO family history of allergies and his first reaction was completely petrifying.

  3. One Hungry Mama says:

    This is great advice. And I’m sure it was completely petrifying. I imagine it would be no matter when it happens. I hope nothing I said suggests otherwise. I just think it’s important to clarify that early introduction is not causal. As I always say, we should all consult with our pediatricians before deciding what’s best for our children and to know how to be prepared if it turns out that our child has a food allergy. Thanks for your comment!

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