Allergies and Babies: Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Little One Safe
You want to do everything possible to keep your little one safe. These days, that means knowing a lot about allergies and how they could affect your baby. The good news is that we know more than ever before about common food allergies.
When to Introduce Allergenic Foods
Updated infant feeding guidelines developed by Health Canada, The Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada and the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada now recommend introducing whole eggs (yolks and whites) starting at six months. Feeding your baby whole eggs at six months may help prevent them from developing an egg allergy.
Experts agree that the most common food allergens can be introduced from around six months. These foods include:
- Whole eggs (both yolks and whites)
- Milk products
In fact, wholes eggs, fish and meat should be some of the very first solid foods offered to a baby. They are chockfull of iron, which is needed by your rapidly growing and developing baby.
Tips for Introducing Common Food Allergens
When you are introducing a food that is among the list of common food allergens, being prepared can help make the experience a calm and positive one. Only offer one of these foods a day and wait for two days before trying another. This makes it easier to keep track of any reactions, and what caused it. Signs of an allergic reaction, according to the Canadian Paediatric Society, could include:
- Itchy mouth and throat when eating certain foods
- Hives (raised red, itchy bumps on the skin)
- Stomach trouble (diarrhea, cramps, nausea, vomiting)
- Swelling of the face or tongue, or
- Trouble breathing
If you don’t see a reaction, you can and should keep serving the food regularly to keep that tolerance going strong. If you have a family history of food allergies, check with your healthcare practitioner before introducing any common food allergens. They can help you design a more individualized feeding plan for your child.
Why Are Eggs a Good First Food?
With six grams of the highest-quality protein and fourteen essential vitamins and nutrients eggs are a great first food. They are a practical way to add an iron-rich, wholesome food to your baby’s diet and are a natural source of choline, which plays an important role in brain development. The iron is particularly important for infants six months and older. At this age the iron that babies are born with is depleted and breastmilk alone does not meet your baby’s nutrient requirements. That’s why iron-rich foods should be offered to your baby two or more times a day, with the amount guided by your baby’s ‘hungry’ and ‘full’ cues.
Here are some ways that you can incorporate eggs into your baby’s meals as a first food:
- At six or seven months old, serve a hard-boiled egg that has been mashed, minced or grated as a meal.
- For a slightly older infant, about 11 months, offer a chopped hard-boiled egg as a snack.
Why You Should Eat as a Family—Baby Too
As you start to introduce new foods, many of them can be the nutritious foods that the whole family is eating, prepared and served with no added sugar or salt. This will help to ensure that your baby is eating a wide array of flavours and foods (those recommended by Canada’s Food Guide) by the time they reach their first birthday.
Children who are exposed at an early age to eating nutritious foods are more likely to prefer and eat these foods. These healthy eating patterns may continue into later childhood.
Meals with the whole family provide a wonderful opportunity for parents, caregivers and older siblings to display healthy eating habits for your baby to observe, copy and adopt.
For more information on the new guidelines and ideas on how to incorporate eggs into your baby’s diet, please click here.