I gave my daughter eggs before she turned one.
I also gave her peanut butter, shellfish and other foods on the list before she was supposed to eat them. I wasn’t being brazen. Quite frankly, I was ignorant. (I really was.)
Now, though, it seems like I did the right thing. (Beginner’s luck!)
“Insufficient evidence exists for delaying introduction of solid foods, including potentially allergenic foods, beyond 4 to 6 months of age, even in infants at risk.”
That’s according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
In other words: Don’t delay giving your kids peanuts, eggs or any other potentially allergenic food. Once you start weaning, you should feel free to feed away.
What a reversal.
- Old advice: Wait before introducing potentially allergenic foods because it will help reduce your child’s chances of developing an allergy.
- New advice: Delaying may increase your child’s chances of developing an allergy.
One explanation is that when you finally get around to giving peanuts to a baby whose introduction to peanuts has been delayed, her immune system treats them as a foreign substance. The attack that ensues is an allergy.
Ditto for the process that happens with eggs, shellfish, milk, tree nuts, fish and other recommended “stay-aways.”
The peanut allergy rate in the U.S. pretty low: 0.6%.
In Israel, where infants are often given a peanut-based snack, the peanut allergy rate is 0.06%
“The body has to be trained in the first year of life.”
That’s the explanation Katie Allen, a professor and allergist at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute at Royal Children’s Hospital in Australia gave to the Wall Street Journal.
You know my reaction: Your baby’s taste buds have to be trained in the first year of life too.
I’m glad to see some medical advice that doesn’t undermine habits.
Early flavor experiences shape your baby’s flavor preferences later in life. Delay the range of flavors your child gets exposed to and you may be increasing the odds she’ll be a picky eater.
Remember Early Vegetable Variety: The French Advantage? Compared to German mothers (and American mothers) the French provide an astonishing amount of variety during weaning. They’re more concerned about taste development than allergies. And you know the punch line: their kids eat vegetables, and ours…? Not so much.
Most infants go through a phase where they are open to a wide range of new foods.
This stage starts when they are new eaters and ends around nineteen months – two years. Some kids get a mild case of resistance; other kids get a severe case.
If your kids are still in the “I’ll eat anything phase of life,” take advantage of it. Both mother’s feeding practices (i.e. your habits) and your infant’s willingness to accept a variety of foods track from the first years of life. That means, what you do in the beginning is likely to last a lifetime.
~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~
NIAID-Sponsored Expert Panel. 2010. “Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States: Report of the NIAID-Sponsored Expert Panel.” The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Volume 126, Issue 6, Supplement, Pages S1-S58, December.
Reddy, Sumathi. “Food Allergy Advice for Kids: Don’t Delay Peanuts, Eggs.” The Wall Street Journal 4 March, 2013. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324662404578334423524696016.html, accessed 3/13/13.
Nicklaus, S. 2009. “Development of Food Variety in Children.” Appetite 52: 253-55.