Practical Guidelines for Starting Baby Food
The Americas Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology provided updated, practical recommendations about how and when to introduce allergenic foods (such as milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat) and how to reduce the risk of developing allergies in children.
- Avoiding allergenic foods, other than peanuts, during pregnancy is not recommended. Studies about peanuts during pregnancy are inconclusive. The choice is left for parents to decide.
- Avoiding allergenic foods while breastfeeding is not recommended
- Exclusive breast-feeding is recommended for the first 4 months of life, and breast-feeding should continue through the first year.
- When breast-feeding is not possible in high risk children, consider a partial whey hydrolysate formula like Gerber Good Start or an extensively hydrolyzed formula like Nutramagen. Soy based forms have no advantage over milk-based formula for preventing allergies.
- Food should be introduced between ages 4 and 6 months. Highly allergenic foods can be started once other foods such as vegetables and cereal are tolerated. Early introduction may actually reduce food allergies.
- Berries, tomatoes and citrus can cause local skin irritation, but rarely cause allergies and do not need to be delayed.
- Routine allergy testing is not recommended. Referral to an allergist may he needed for children with severe eczema or food reactions.
- Children with a sibling who has a peanut allergy have a 7% risk for peanut allergy. The slow introduction of peanut products at home is safe because an initial life- threatening peanut allergy in an infant has never been reported.