When should you start giving your baby real food?
Previous guidelines recommended avoiding potentially allergenic foods until 12 to 36 months old, but as a result of this study, several organizations, including the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, said there’s now evidence to support introducing these allergenic foods, like peanuts, between the ages of 4 and 11 months old.
If parents ask how to prevent allergy in their children, current advice is to introduce the allergenic foods at 4 to 6 months old, researchers from the Department of Pediatric Allergy and Clinical Immunology at the University of Manitoba said. Once highly allergenic foods are introduced, regular exposure is important for maintenance of tolerance by eating these foods on a regular basis.
“When giving new foods to babies, my pediatric colleagues recommend introducing small amounts of allergenic foods individually,” says Dr. Cothran. “If you are trying peanut butter, give them just enough to put on a spoon, not a sandwich and not on a cracker that they are not familiar with. Always defer to your pediatrician’s recommendations when presenting new foods to your baby.”
Researchers estimate up to 15 million Americans have food allergies, including one out of every 13 children, according to Food Allergy Research and Education Inc., an organization that has conducted programs with federal agencies, including the National Institutes of Health.
“Introducing allergenic foods one at a time is the best option,” says Dr. Cothran.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, food allergies are common in early childhood. They offer this advice when parents are trying to introduce new foods to their infants: present one new food every three to five days, starting with grains yellow and orange vegetables and fruits.
Dr. Cothran also says that breastfeeding can help to reduce the risk of food allergies in children.
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