•  When can you introduce solid foods to your baby?

     Babies are ready for solid foods after six months. At that age, they can handle more textures and their digestive system is ready for new foods. They are usually physically able to sit up, eat from a spoon and show interest in solid food.

     

    Experts recommend exclusive breastfeeding until 4 to 6 months of age. You can introduce solid foods when your baby is between 4 and 6 months of age and developmentally able to sit with support with sufficient head and neck control.

     

    Single-ingredient infant foods, such as rice cereal, yellow and orange vegetables (sweet potato, squash and carrots), fruits (apples, pears and bananas), green vegetables, and then age-appropriate stage-based foods with meats can be introduced to your baby one at a time, every 3 to 5 days. This slow process can give you the chance to identify and eliminate any food that may cause an allergic reaction.

     

    What about food allergies?

    To help prevent food allergies, parents were once told to avoid feeding young children highly allergenic foods such as eggs, fish, peanuts and tree nuts. Today, however, research suggests there’s no convincing evidence that avoiding these foods during early childhood will help prevent food allergies.

    In what order should foods be introduced?

     

    Between 6-9 months:

    • Offer iron-fortified infant cereals mixed with breast milk or formula.
    • Start with single grain cereals one at a time, such as rice cereal, then barley and oats.
    • You can introduce iron-rich foods from the meat and alternatives food group, including meat, fish, poultry, cooked eggs, well cooked legumes and tofu.

    Anytime between 9-12 months:

    Milk products such as cottage cheese, other cheeses and yogurt can be introduced.

     

    What about babies at risk of food allergies?

    Your baby is at greater risk of developing food allergy if there is a history of food allergy or atopy in the family, or if they have developed eczema in the first 3-6 months of life. The most common foods that trigger eczema are cow’s milk, egg and peanut. If this is the case, parents should consult their allergy doctor before giving these foods.  Symptoms commonly caused by immediate reactions to food include: hives, swelling, itchiness, eczema and breathing difficulties [rhinitis, wheeze, cough].

     

    Can food allergies be prevented? 

    The American Academy of Pediatrics has made these recommendations about food allergies in children:

    • Avoiding certain foods in pregnancy does not appear to prevent food allergies in children.
    • We don’t know for certain if breastfeeding can prevent or delay food allergies.
    • For infants who have a parent, brother or sister with a food allergy, drinking only breast milk for at least four months may reduce the risk of allergy to cow’s milk.
    • Certain formulas that do not contain cow’s milk may also reduce the risk.
    • Soy-based infant formula does not appear to prevent food allergy.

     

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