Today’s sponsored post from our partner Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center features Arjun Nepal, MD, a pediatrician who just joined Saint Mary’s Medical Group. Read on for his expert tips on baby’s first solids, and when to introduce allergenic foods to your little one.
In the last decade, prevailing beliefs about timing the introduction of highly allergenic foods to babies have undergone a lot of changes.
In an effort to prevent food allergies, experts used to recommend delaying a baby’s exposure to some of the more common food allergy triggers—milk, eggs, fish and nuts—until a child is between 1 and 3 years old. They worried that exposure too early would stress a child’s immune system and increase the risk of developing allergies. However, during the years that these recommendations were in effect, the number of children with food allergies skyrocketed. And, during this same time period, the rates of childhood obesity multiplied.
Today, more doctors agree that heavily processed white rice cereal may be a particularly unhealthy first food when compared with fresher, more natural foods. White rice cereal, the most common first food in the United States, is highly processed and is metabolized by the body just like sugar. This could set your child on a course to prefer processed, low-fiber, high-sugar foods throughout their lifetime, and in turn, may lead to a number of health concerns, including heart disease and obesity. Instead, opt for fresh foods like puréed brown rice mixed with breast milk, mashed avocado, stewed pears or meat purée, to name just a few.
So, based on these studies, here is a list of guidelines:
- Introduce solid foods around 4 to 6 months of age; some parents may prefer to wait longer to begin this process
- Gradually add one new food every few days and give that new food to your baby twice a day at most
- Common allergenic foods such as milk, eggs, wheat, and peanuts can be introduced anytime, once other less allergenic foods like whole grain cereal, bananas, avocados or puréed meats have been tolerated
Ultimately, how to introduce allergens is a personal decision you’ll make in consultation with your pediatrician. If your infant already has eczema or signs of a food allergy—or if a sibling has a peanut allergy—your pediatrician may refer you to a pediatric allergist for testing and individualized guidance.
For more information:
This is the latest in a year-long series of posts from Saint Mary’s on everything you need to know to become a healthy mom and help your family thrive. If there’s a topic or question you’d like Saint Mary’s to blog about here, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.