Disclaimer: I may have a PhD, but I’m no doctor. Please don’t misconstrue what I’ve written here as medical advice, I’m only sharing my experiences and sources of information. When it comes to decisions about when to introduce solids, and how to handle potential food allergies, no source of information is as important as your pediatrician!
A few weeks ago my mom’s group had a “Mom’s Night In” and several of us were discussing when to introduce solids, in particular, those that are known allergens (eggs, peanuts, shellfish, etc.).
I’ve written in the past about how Mac and I went about introducing solids with Mabel, and now again with Nemo. Since we have no family history of food allergies, we didn’t hold back on anything (except for honey which is contraindicated because of infant botulism, not because of allergies).
The science on food allergies and how/when best to introduce potentially allergenic foods isn’t entirely conclusive. There does seem to be emerging evidence that delaying the introduction of foods does NOT decrease the likelihood of allergic reaction, it may even increase that likelihood.
There was an article on Yahoo Health today that did a great job of summarizing the science and the current recommendations regarding introduction of solids (three cheers for the author, Lisa Collier Cool, for linking directly to the journal article she was reporting on!). To read it, click here.
The take home message:
•Complementary foods can be introduced between 4 and 6 months of age.•The highly allergenic foods can be given as complementary foods once a few complementary foods have been tolerated first and should initially be given at home first rather than at a day care or a restaurant.•There are certain situations when consultation with an allergist is recommended to discuss food introduction, including, among others, when an infant has poorly controlled severe atopic dermatitis despite treatment or has a reliable history of reacting immediately to a food. Source.
The original review from the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology that the article refers to can be viewed here. It summarizes and outlines the recommendations of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology with regards to breast feeding, restricted diets, and introduction of solids. It’s organized well, lots of bullet point, summaries, etc. so definitely read through it, even if you aren’t a scientist or doctor!