Food and allergy advice: the times, they are a changin'.
- Old Advice: Wait before introducing potentially allergenic foods because it will help reduce your child's chances of developing an allergy.
- New Advice: Delaying may increase your child's chances of developing an allergy.
In other words, once you start weaning feel free to feed your kids peanuts, eggs, shellfish and other potentially allergenic foods. Read more: Peanuts, eggs, and Shellfish Before One.
Now, more evidence about the benefits of introducing fish...early on. It may prevent allergies from forming.
The New York Times reports on a couple of studies:
- Children who were introduced to fish between 6 and 12 months had a lower prevalence of asthmalike symptoms than children who were given fish after this window.
- Children who were given fish twice a month from the age of 1 were 75% less likely to have allergy symptoms—rhinitis and exzema—at the age of 12.
Many parents I know are reluctant to introduce fish to young children.
I'm not sure whether that is because these parents are worried about allergies, or because they're worried their children won't like fish.
Here's an old post on how to interpret your weaning infant's reaction to new foods; it's something for you to "chew on" while I finish the book!
Most parents think introducing their infants to solid foods is difficult because their child may not like the taste, may not like the texture, and may not even know how to navigate the mushy messes down their throats.
Weaning is tough work because there is so much change to your child's feeding and eating routine - his (so far) lifelong habits.
Here are 10 things your infant might say about weaning if he could:
1) My food used to always be the same – same taste, same texture, same smell. Now it changes from meal-to-meal. I never know what to expect.
2) I used to snuggle with Mommy while I ate but now I don’t.
3) I used to eat while lying down. Now I have to sit up.
4) I used to decide how quickly or slowly to eat. Now someone else picks the speed at which food is put into my mouth.
5) I used to take big sips or small sips of milk. Now someone else decides how much food is in each bite.
6) I used to have a soft nipple in my mouth. Now there’s a hard spoon in there.
7) I used to eat whenever I was hungry. Now Mommy often makes me wait for meal- or snack-time.
8) Mommy used to be the only one to feed me. Now lots of different people take turns.
9) I used to decide how long meals lasted. Now whoever feeds me decides.
10) I never could see what was going on in the room before. Now I can check out all the action.
There’s a lot going on here as your child adjusts and develops new habits -- it's not just about the food.
What you can do.
- If your child is having trouble transitioning to solids, look beyond the food to identify the cause (or causes).
- Try reducing some of the change. For instance, there’s no law against snuggling while feeding, even if it is solids.
- Recognize that weaning is a process, both for you and for your child. How well you cope matters too.
- Remember, weaning will change from day-to-day because it is an interaction that is always in flux as you and your infant adjust your behavior in reaction to each other.
- Don't get hung up on how much your child eats. Sustenance from solids isn't the name-of-the-game right now. Exposure to lots of different foods is.
- Also, don't get hung up on how much your child eats because, it turns out, parents aren't very good judges of that anyway. Click for more on this topic.
- Hang in there. Over time, change settles down and feeding improves. Studies show a vast improvement in feeding within 6 weeks, but that before this time, anything goes.
~ Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits. ~
van Dijk M, Hunnius S, & van Geert P (2009). Variability in eating behavior throughout the weaning period.Appetite, 52 (3), 766-70 PMID: 19501778