FAQ: Starting Solids with a Family History of Food Allergy
Are you about to start solids with your baby and have a family history of food allergy and/or intolerance and unsure where to start?
With food allergies and intolerances on the rise we’re sure you know someone who is (or has been) in this situation. You might have even been through it before with your own children? It’s always great to hear the experiences of others who are in the same boat as well as look for trusted, professional advice to know you are on the right track.
Here are our recommendations. But don’t let it stop with us, If you have an idea that might help others, or have another starting solids or fussy eating question we would love to hear it. Leave a comment after this post, or join our Facebook page to talk to other parents.
Q. I am about to start solids with my 5 1/2-month-old daughter and am nervous about food allergies. My husband is allergic to shellfish and was cow’s milk protein intolerant until the age of 3. Do you have any advice for me? Freya, ACT.
A. Hi Freya,
Starting solids is an exciting time made a little more stressful if your child’s family has a history of food allergies and intolerances. Australia and New Zealand have among the highest prevalence of allergic disorders in the developed world. So while you have every reason to be concerned that your daughter may experience food allergies and/or intolerances there are a few things that you can do to help prevent them or to identify any signs or symptoms.
- Continue to breastfeed. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and National Health & Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) recommend exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months of age. The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) Infant Feeding Advice suggests continued breastfeeding beyond this and during the period foods are first introduced may help prevent the development of allergy to those foods.
- Don’t delay the introduction of solids. The WHO and NH&MRC recommend starting solids at around 6 months of age. There are some suggestions that delaying the introduction after this time may increase the risk of developing food allergies.
- Introduce potentially allergenic foods. Other than recommending the use of iron-rich first foods, there are no recommendations on the order in which foods should be introduced or the number of new foods that can be introduced at a time. So feel free to add peanut butter to some wholegrain toast, mash some egg through an avocado or mix a little natural yoghurt through their cereal.
- Consider waiting 2–3 days in between the introduction of new foods if you are at all concerned. This is particularly important for common allergens e.g. egg, peanuts, nuts, wheat, cow’s milk, sesame, soy and fish, including shellfish. This will allow you to pinpoint any reactions from newly introduced foods.
- Don’t smoke and avoid exposure to tobacco smoke.
- Consult a health care professional specialising in food allergy and intolerance. If you are at all concerned before starting solids or think your daughter is experiencing an unwanted reaction to a particular food we recommend you consult your medical practitioner or an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) specialising in food allergy. And, remember to avoid the suspecting food until you have been properly assessed.
If your daughter does experience food allergy or intolerance rest assured there is a lot of support available. And, like your husband, your daughter may even grow out of it. Most childhood food allergies will disappear over time usually by the time they reach school age. Unfortunately allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, seeds and seafood often remain life long.
We have food allergy and intolerance information on our website and many of our recipes cater for or can be adapted for specific allergies. We hope this has helped reduce any anxieties and you can embrace and enjoy the exciting journey of starting solids with your little girl. –OHCs x
This reader question was featured in the One Handed Cooks Magazine Issue #4. Yep, you can buy it online while stocks last here. For more great recipe ideas pick up the latest mag today in Coles and all good Newsagents.
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Don’t forget to read our disclaimer. If you have any specific questions or concerns regarding the nutritional adequacy of your child’s diet or their health and wellbeing please consult a medical practitioner or an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) for individualised advice.Join us on Facebook for other foodie bits and pieces.