New Infant & Toddler Feeding Guidelines You Need to Know

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Food allergies, unfortunately, affect 6 million children, and rates of allergies continue to climb with a near-doubling of children affected since the previous generation. Thankfully, new research guides the way to reverse the growing number of children with food allergies. For the first time, we know ways we can reduce risk and help protect children from developing allergies in the first place.

Guided by science, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) now recommend introducing common allergens at around 4-6 months of age. By feeding these foods early in life, before an allergy has ever developed, parents have the opportunity to change the risk for their children.

3 Key Takeaways for Parents

  1. The guidelines recommend introducing your baby to commonly allergenic foods like peanuts, egg, cow milk products, tree nuts, wheat, crustacean shellfish, fish, and soy at 4-6 months. 

  2. The guidelines suggest that introducing common allergens regularly can reduce the risk of your baby developing a food allergy.

  3. The guidelines urge for a variety of complementary foods every day. Diet diversity is great for babies and is a key early habit in lifelong, healthy eating.

The dietary guidelines are a perfect roadmap to help give parents easy, achievable ways to feed their baby the best way. The guidelines specify to “make every bite count.” We know that there is a big gap in the types of baby food available at the grocery store. Most commercially available baby foods lack the essential food groups needed to ensure diet diversity and thriving tummies for your little ones as they grow. Parents need to make a plan to get these into a baby’s diet and keep it in a baby’s diet.

By introducing peanuts, eggs, cow’s milk products, tree nuts, wheat, soy, and shellfish, and fish (all of these can be found in SpoonfulONE) with other complementary foods, you can reduce your child’s risk of developing an allergy to that food. Furthermore, pediatricians agree there is no evidence that delaying the introduction of allergenic foods, beyond when other complementary foods are introduced, helps to prevent food allergy. In fact, delaying introduction can increase risk for babies.

So don’t wait and go slow, when you’re starting solids. Consider trying 100 new foods in 100 days! Parents should feel empowered and confident about feeding their babies early. Maintaining a diverse diet is the key as this isn’t a one-and-done “test.” Aim to feed your babies diverse foods and common allergens regularly—every day if possible, but at least several times per week. Consistency is key here.

We cannot change the modern environment quickly, but we can change the allergy in food odds for our children. 

RELATED:
Why Baby-Led Weaning Was One of Our Best Parenting Moves. Period.
Ask the Allergist: What Is a Food Allergy?

 

Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson
Tinybeans Voices Contributor

Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE, FAAP is a pediatrician and Chief Medical Officer for SpoonfulONE. Dr. Swanson is an author, a prominent advocate of evidence-based medicine, & devotes her career to prevention strategies. She fosters conversations with clinicians & parents around the importance of early and consistent feeding of common food allergens.

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