The process of introducing new foods to your baby is call weaning.
When Do You Start Offering Solid Foods?
Most pediatricians would recommend that you wait until your baby is around six months of age before introducing solid foods. Waiting allows your baby’s digestive tract to mature to handle the new foods better. Some kids can get painful gas or other digestive issues like constipation with the introduction of solid foods. There are studies that show waiting until your baby is about six months of age before introducing solids can reduce possible food allergies and obesity risks (1).
However, before starting any solids, we recommend you speak with your Pediatrician and discuss your child’s possible risk factors for food allergies and readiness for starting solids.
- What supplies do I need to introduce solid foods?
- How to make your own baby food?
- How to best set the stage for an enjoyable mealtime with your child?
- Everything you need to know about introducing solids to your baby
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Start Introducing Tastes to Your Baby at 4 Months
New research shows that babies are most receptive and accepting of new flavors between 4-7 months of age. Before your child become a fussy eater, teach him to taste.
“From four to seven months, it seems that there is a window when humans are extraordinarily receptive to flavor, but by following current guidelines on exclusive breastfeeding, parents tend to miss it. Several studies have shown that when vegetables are introduced at this age, babies are more open-minded,” according to author Bee Wilson from her book, First Bite.
Wilson continues to say, “It takes fewer exposures to persuade them to like a new flavor, and the effects are long-lasting.” In fact, it can take up to 20+ exposures for a baby to grow to like a food; by exposing taste early, it can take less time for your baby to like food.
Check Out Our Video About Baby Allergies
Scroll down to see what anaphylaxis looks in children.
Understanding Food Allergies in Babies
4- Day Wait Rule Between New Foods Is Old School
When introducing new foods, it was advisable to wait 4 days in between introducing a new food to see if your child has a possible food allergy to this new food before you introduce another new food. You can continue giving the same food to your child for those four days along with other foods you’ve already introduced, as long as you do not see any type of allergic reaction (2).
New studies are showing why parents can skip this step. Watch the video below for more details.
Why skip the 4-day rule? There are studies that show when we only introduce one food at a time, we are creating finicky eaters who can turn into picky eaters. Other studies also show that the sooner we introduce highly allergy causing foods, the less likely they are to have issues with them.
Over 90% of babies will not have a food allergy. See below to find out what one looks like and which babies are more likely to develop an allergy.
By introducing new foods to your baby every day or every other day, you help your baby become more of an adventurous eater. The idea is to introduce as much flavor variety to your baby as you can- as early as you. Again, speak with your doctor to find out what is right for you and your child, based on your medical history.
How Many Children Have Food Allergies?
The good news is that the medical community is taking allergies seriously and are studying food allergies in children because now 1 out of 13 kids has a food allergy; I’ve even read that it can be as high as 1 in 8 kids with a food allergy. Studies are now showing that by introducing more allergic foods earlier on can reduce a child’s chances of developing an allergy.
Why Introduce One Food at a Time?
If you do introduce a few foods mixed together to your child and they have some sort of allergic reaction, it can be hard to figure out which food your child had an issue with. This is why they recommend isolating the food.
However, in other countries they do not do this and the US has the highest incidents of food allergies and picky eating. There is something to acclimating your child to as many flavors as early on as possible.
Ultimately, we are getting kids used to eating only one food at a time and not eating complex flavors. Then we get frustrated when they only eat bland foods like mac and cheese and chicken nuggets. Check out the article about getting kids to eat complex flavors to help ward off picky eating. Don’t shy away from adding herbs and spices starting at around eight months. The sooner you introduce foods with lots of flavors and textures the more likely your child is to enjoy a variety of flavors and textures as he or she gets older.
Difference Between Food Allergy and Food Intolerance
Babies are all different. Some babies may have an intolerance to a food that they can grow out of as he or she gets older. Other babies have food allergies.
Both allergies and intolerances can cause an adverse reaction. In an allergic reaction, which is generally brought on suddenly, a child’s body will release antibodies to the protein in the food. Generally, intolerances are not brought on suddenly so they can be harder to spot.
Symptoms of a Food Intolerance:
- Diarrhea or constipation, blood or mucus in the baby’s stool
What Do Allergic Reactions Look Like?
If all of sudden, your baby is crying after eating, please start looking for these symptoms. For young babies and children, they can’t tell us their throat hurts. A young child may just cry and you will need to get a flash light or your cell phone and look down their throat to see if you see any redness or swelling and check their body for a rash.
The signs and symptoms generally include:
- Hives (nettle rash) around a child’s mouth, nose and eyes, and can spread across your child’s whole body
- Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Mild swelling of his lips, eyes and face
- Runny or blocked nose, sneezing, watery eyes
- Irritated throat and/or itchy mouth
If you suspect a food allergy, under no circumstances should you continue giving this food to your child until you speak with your Doctor. Generally, the first reaction is the mildest. The next reaction can be very serious , up to and including anaphylaxis ( see symptoms below). Your doctor can test your child for the allergy or refer you to a Pediatric Allergist for further evaluation.
Top 8 Allergic Reaction Causing Foods
Having eczema is a predictor of allergies, but not a guarantee. If your child has eczema or a family history of allergies, speak with your doctor before introducing the top 8 allergic reaction causing foods, which account for over 90% off all food allergies (3). If you have a family history of any type of food allergy, please speak with your doctor before introducing that food and/or food family. For example, if your mom is allergic to mangos, your child might be too. Your child could also be allergic to papaya since it’s in the same food family.
In our case, my husband’s side of the family has a number of food allergies, but neither of my children inherited any of their specific allergies. But… my son does have a severe peanut allergy and no one else in my family does. Food allergies are peculiar on how they affect people.
These Top 8 Allergic Reaction Foods Are:
- Tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc).
Other foods that can also cause issues: celery, sesame seeds, gluten-containing foods such as rye, barley, wheat
What Does Anaphylaxis Look Like?
- Breathing difficulties similar to an asthma attack, wheezing and/or coughing
- Swollen tongue, throat which can affect your child’s ability to vocalize what is going on
- Red rash and/or itchy skin
- Dizziness, confusion, unconsciousness, collapse
- Blood pressure drop
Call 9-1-1 immediately. If you have an epinephrine injection like an epi-pen inject it into your child’s thigh and keep it injected for 10 loooong seconds. Each product’s instructions may differ and instructions change, so always follow the instructions on your device. Call 911. Do not drive yourself to the hospital in case there is a second reaction.
Recently, there was a study done about introducing peanut butter between 4-11 months of age to help them ward off a potential peanut allergy later on. The study shows that this can reduce a child’s likelihood of developing the allergy by age five by as much as 80%. See the summary from the NY Times or check out the study for specifics from the New England Journal of Medicine.
Eczema and Allergies
This peanut study references that if your child has eczema then see your Pediatrician before introducing peanut butter or other high allergy causing foods. My son had bad eczema and we introduced peanut butter to him at twelve months, as the old research recommended, along with the advice from our Pediatrician. He ended up being severely allergic to peanuts and our world has never been the same, while his twin has no allergies.
Many babies can have a dairy intolerance and it generally goes away around their first birthday.
If you see mucus or blood in your baby’s stool, please speak with your doctor. If you are breastfeeding, your doctor may advise you to cut out dairy from your diet which includes: milk, yogurt, cheese, butter, beef (of all kinds), etc. If you are wondering why
If you are wondering why beef? It is because your baby is probably intolerant of the protein in dairy, which is also found in the beef.
It takes about 2 weeks for most of the protein to leave your body so it may take 2-4 weeks before you see a change in your baby’s symptoms. If you are formula feeding, your doctor will be able to provide you with some suggestions on formula’s that will help your baby’s symptoms.
Share Your Experiences in the Comments Below.
Have you had to deal with a food allergy with your child?