Transitioning your baby to a diet of solid foods is a fun and exciting time, but it doesn’t come without it’s worries for mommas. Concerns over potential allergic reactions often keep parents from feeding their babies the diverse diet they need at a young age. It can feel intimidating or confusing figuring out when and what allergens to introduce, and how to do it. We’ve got a breakdown of the important information you need to know when introducing allergenic foods into your baby’s diet.
When to introduce allergens
Contrary to the older belief that you should wait until baby is older to introduce allergenic foods, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting your child on solids between 4–6 months of age. This reverses decades of advice from pediatricians to avoid foods associated with food allergies. Research now shows early and regular dietary exposure helps reduce the risk of a child developing an allergy to those foods. This is especially helpful when introducing foods often associated with allergies, like peanuts or shellfish. Waiting too long to introduce and regularly feed these foods increases the risk of an allergy. (It is important to note that babies with eczema are 600% more likely to develop an allergy, so discuss with your doctor before starting solids.)
How to introduce allergenic foods
When it comes to introducing allergenic foods — and any food in general — the most important thing to remember is to be consistent. You want to ensure that your baby is getting enough of a certain food that their immune system can make associations. One bite here and there of potential allergens might not be enough of an introduction. You’ll need to consistently feed baby each food so their immune cells begin to recognize them.
And you don’t need to worry about timing food introductions over several days in order to monitor for a reaction. The newest edition of Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, Birth to Age 5, published by the AAP, states: “In the past pediatricians recommended starting one new food every few days, so that you can see if a reaction occurs to that particular food. New research has shown that it is safe to start multiple foods at once. Within two or three months, your baby’s daily diet should include breast milk, iron-fortified whole-grain cereals, vegetables, meats (including fish), eggs, fruits, and nut butters (but never whole nuts) distributed among three meals.”
What foods to give your baby
When introducing your baby to solid foods and allergenic foods, you’ll want to ensure they have a well-rounded, diverse diet. Some of the best foods to start your baby on are fruits and vegetables cut into small pieces or pureed. These can include very ripe peaches and pears, soft-cooked carrots, and mashed bananas. Common allergens (egg, peanut, fish, sesame, wheat, tree nut, soy) can be introduced alongside these. Try peanut butter thinned with water and mixed with oatmeal. Cereals can be thinned with breastmilk or formula. There are a few foods to avoid during infancy: honey (can cause botulism, a serious illness, in infants); choking hazards (whole nuts, whole grapes, popcorn, thick nut butters); and juice (unless recommended by a pediatrician).
How to ensure baby is getting enough
If you’re concerned about baby getting the proper amounts of allergenic foods, you can opt to use supplements to ensure they’re getting a proper introduction.
These portioned packets include proteins from 16 different foods, including the food groups associated with more than 90% of food allergies. You’ll mix one packet daily into your baby’s formula, breast milk, or favorite food. They also have puffs for older babies. All SpoonfulONE products are made from real, wholesome foods and are made without artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.