One of the biggest concerns when it comes to feeding babies and infants is the risk of allergies. There are ever-constant studies and recommendations from experts on what to feed baby and when, which can leave new mothers quite confused and most likely a little terrified to try new things. Below is a simple guideline on tackling new foods and how to reduce the risk of allergies in your infant, from newborn to one year.
Feeding Your Newborn:
Breastfeeding is encouraged for at least the first six months of a baby’s life. However, it can continue for as long as baby and mother desire. There is no need to introduce other foods to baby during this time. If breastfeeding is not possible, then a baby should be offered formula.
Breastfeeding during the periods that foods are first introduced can also help prevent the development of allergies in babies
Studies have suggested that exclusion of certain foods from a mother’s diet while breastfeeding will not prevent allergies. However, you may find that there are certain foods that will make your baby extra fussy and windy. This can include broccoli, cabbage garlic, caffeine and chocolate, to name a few.
In some instances, you may find that your baby is lactose intolerant. This means you may need to switch to soy based formula or a goat’s milk based formula if you are bottle feeding. A pediatrician will be able to diagnose whether this is the case based on the symptoms of your infant.
If your child has a high risk of allergies based on a history of allergies in the family, then they may benefit from partially hydrolysed or hypo allergic (HA) formula.
Introducing Solids and Avoiding Allergies
Solids should be introduced after six months according to the World Health Organisation and may be introduced in any order as long as iron rich foods are included and they are the right texture for your baby’s age group. For example, if you are breastfeeding six times a day, continue to do so but add one meal before a breastfeed once per day. Gradually increase this to three meals per day. This may take a couple of months and offer the child the breast after they have eaten a meal. This is more for the baby’s digestive system to adjust to change in diet.
When introducing solid foods you can try start with one food at a time and leave a couple of days in between. That way, if there is a problem with one of the foods, you will be able to easily identify which one. A food may cause wind, gas, a rash or digestive problems in your infant but it is hard to know if this will be the case until you try it. Every baby is different. This is not an essential guideline anymore but it can still be done this way if you are concerned or if there is a family history of particular food allergies.
Until the age of 12 months breast milk or infant formula should be the main form of milk for your baby. However, you can use regular cow’s milk in cooking or with other foods.
There is conflicting advice in regards to delaying certain foods in babies. While some studies show that there is no need to delay the introduction of some foods, others suggest that you should. Some of the foods that may be delayed until a baby is nine months to one year of age can include tomato, lemon and other citrusy foods which can leave children quite gassy. Egg is another one to avoid until a child is at least nine months of age and peanut butter as well as all nut products should be avoided until a child is one year. This is because eggs and nuts are two of the most common foods that cause serious allergic reactions in children. If you are unsure, discuss feeding and allergies with your GP, paediatrician or child health nurse to get current information and guidance.
When it comes to your baby, it is really up to you on what advice you follow and when you introduce these foods.
For more in depth information here are the most recent guidelines from the National Health and Medical Research Council –http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/n56b_infant_feeding_guideline_summary.pdf
If you become concerned about any symptoms please seek immediate medical attention we have some hotlines and suggested websites for further information and advice https://www.stayathomemum.com.au/my-kids/babies/important-hotlines-websites/
SAHM takes no responsibility for any illness, injury or death caused by misuse of this information. All information provided is correct at time of publication.