An International summit of health professionals ( The Centre for Food & Allergy Research) has just produced a new set of guidelines with the aim of halving peanut allergy in Australian children as a result and helping to guide parents with evidence-based information on allergy prevention strategies when introducing solid foods to their infant. What to first feed a baby, when and what to avoid has been confusing and changing over the past decade. Food allergies have been rising in Australia, with an estimated 1 in 10 babies said to develop a food allergy in the first year of life. Many parents have been advise to avoid introducing the more common allergy associated foods until over 2 years of age. The new Guide states:

  • Between 4 and 6 months start introducing a variety of solid foods,( particularly iron rich foods such as cereals, poultry, legumes and meats) ,  while continuing breastfeeding. Previously the advice from the WHO and many guidelines was to delay the introduction of solids for the first six months of life due to concern about the impact on the rates of breastfeeding. It has now been shown that there is no evidence that introducing solids between 4 and 6 months has any impact on breast feeding rates and delaying the introduction of foods such as peanut is harmful and increases the risk of developing peanut allergy.
  • There is no particular order in which too introduce foods. Once pureed foods have been introduced, many parents choose to continue to introduce foods in increased textural variety. Starting with smooth iron-fortified cereals such as rice, oats and semolina and adding cooked and pureed vegetables, legumes, cooked eggs and fruits. mashed and chopped foods and finger foods can then be added.
  • All infants should be given allergenic solid foods including peanut butter, cooked egg, dairy and wheat products in the first year of life, including those at high risk of allergy. This guideline has changed, with previous recommendations for introduction of cows milk after 12 months and peanuts after 2 years. The safest way to introduce eggs is in the cooked form.
  • Aim for a wide variety of different foods to be included in your infant's diet such as cereal foods, dairy foods, meat and alternatives, seafood and nut products, fruits and vegetables
  • Aim for your child to be eating family meals by 12 months of age where possible
  • Hydrolysed ( partially and extensively) infant formulas are not recommended for prevention of allergic disease ( there is no evidence that hydrolysed formula has any role in preventing allergic disease)

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