To wait or not to wait, that seems to be the question on parents’ minds about introducing allergenic foods to their little ones. When I started research for Little City Kitchen Co., I was pretty confused because there’s a lot of conflicting information out there.
Some experts say to introduce things like eggs and peanuts early, some say to wait a year. Which is it?
I think one of the beauties of being a parent is you get to decide what makes the most sense to you. Information about nutrition is published all the time…some of it I agree with and some of it I don’t. This blog is just another piece of information that you can use to form your opinion as you decide what’s best for little one.
Let’s start by reviewing the eight most allergenic foods identified by the FDA (which are responsible for 90% of all allergenic reactions):
- Cow’s milk
- Nuts from trees (such as walnuts, pistachios, pecans, cashews)
- Fish (such as tuna, salmon, cod)
- Shellfish (such as shrimp, lobster)
We’ll cover the research first, and then my opinion. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) puts out recommendations for introducing solids that are intended to serve as a guideline for all pediatricians.
Their most recent revision came out in Jan 2008, and was a reversal of their previous version from 2000. You can view the full revised guideline here, but I’m going to give you the abbreviated version in layman’s terms:
ALL foods (allergenic or not) can and should be introduced starting at 4-6 months old. This includes meats, eggs, fish, wheat, vegetables, etc…
The AAP has found that there’s no research to support that delaying the introduction of allergens makes the babies less likely to have a reaction. And in some cases, by delaying introduction to these foods, we’re actually causing a sensitivity to them.
(Note one exception: If the baby’s mom, dad or sibling has an allergic disease, particularly a food allergy, then your little one is more likely to have food allergies as well. You should talk to your doctor as the AAP recommendations may not apply to you.)
So the big question of the day…why are doctors still telling parents to wait to introduce allergens? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s that they aren’t familiar with the newest recommendations (which would be weird seeing as they’re three years old), or maybe it’s that they disagree with the AAP.
We choose our pediatricians because they are highly trained professionals and we trust the information that they give us, right? If this information makes sense to you, and it conflicts with what your doctor has suggested, I see no reason why you couldn’t bring a copy of the AAP recommendations and have an open conversation with your pediatrician about why they recommend a different strategy.
So remember, your little one needs a variety of foods when they start solids. Don’t be afraid to try meats, eggs, greens, and other fun and colorful foods! Happy Eating