Study: Delaying Solid Foods Unnecessary for Infants

Baby eating solid food from a spoonA study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine is reporting that the introduction of cow’s milk, hen’s egg, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and gluten to children before the age of six months is not associated with increased incidence of eczema or wheezing in either infancy or later childhood.

The study, researched in the Netherlands, followed 7,000 children from infancy to age 4 to see whether introducing allergenic foods correlated with heightened rates of eczema and wheezing.  Those and other allergenic diseases are common in childhood, but the study found no increase in their occurrence among children who were presented with milk, eggs, soy, or the other allergens before age 6 months.  The findings held true even after factoring in parental history of eczema and wheezing.

This goes against the medical conventional wisdom, which generally advises parents to delay solid foods until age 6 months to prevent food allergies and more general allergic conditions.  The American Academy of Pediatrics, though, has recommendations more in line with the Dutch study:

Many pediatricians recommend against giving eggs and fish in the first year of life because of allergic reactions, but there is no evidence that introducing these nutrient-dense foods after 4 to 6 months of age determines whether your baby will be allergic to them. Give your baby one new food at a time, and wait at least 2 to 3 days before starting another. After each new food, watch for any allergic reactions such as diarrhea, rash, or vomiting. If any of these occur, stop using the new food and consult with your child’s doctor.

What do you think about introducing solid foods to infants?  Did you delay, or do you plan to?

(image via: http://www.123rf.com/)

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  1. by Deanna

    On June 20, 2011 at 11:32 am

    We started our daughter on Rice cereal at 4 months and then had her on to baby food that I made before 6 months. Gradually we added in finger foods like avocado. She loved the Puffs and rice crackers. By 9 months she gave up the baby food. She would refuse to eat it, tighten her lips, turn her head or spit it out. It didn’t matter what flavor it was. She just decided that finger foods is what she wanted. She was feeding herself with a spoon by her first birthday.

  2. by Courtney

    On June 20, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    I started my daughter on rice at 2 months she was premature and the dr said to start so she can catch up. We started baby foods at 5 months and this past week on finger foods she loves bananas and wheat thins and nilla cookies. she 7 m old now

  3. by Courtney

    On June 20, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    I started my daughter on rice at 2 months she was premature and the dr said to start so she can catch up. We started baby foods at 5 months and this past week on finger foods she loves bananas and wheat thins and nilla cookies. she 7 m old now

  4. by mom of five

    On June 20, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    we started all of ours on cereal around 2-3 months… depending upon the kid. then on to sweet potatoes and carrots from there. we always start with veggies. i always make all our baby food (it’s waaay easier than you think!). we also usually do a new food for about 1 week before switching. thus far… we have all straight-A kids, some in the honor society, and gifted & talented programs, and some in performing arts. we have GREAT kids! we must be doing something right! :) my best advice… pay attention to your kid… they will give you all the cues you need… each one is different.. and they will let you know exactly what they need. don’t stress out over what everyone (docs, peers, family) is telling you to do.. go with your gut… all will be fine!

  5. by Erin

    On June 20, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Thanks for this story … just as we’re trying to decide what and when to feed our baby!

  6. by Carolina

    On June 21, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    We began diluted rice cereal early…diluted enough for her to drink it from a bottle with a slightly enlarged hole. She was always hungry! This helped a lot. The next food we tried was bananas, she loved them but they gave her ‘the runs’. She couldn’t tolerate them til she was about a year and a half. She used the large dill pickles as ‘teethers’. Her choice, she grabbed one off of my plate when she was about 5 months old. I let her put it in her mouth, thinking she would throw it down…she made the FUNNIEST sour face, then put it right back in her mouth! We ‘graduated’ her from all ‘baby foods’ when she was just under a year. This was when she got hold of my ‘Big Mac’ (a special treat for ME!) and nearly demolished the entire thing in three minutes flat! (And, NO she wasn’t ‘starving’. She had been fed at day care. On the other hand, I had missed lunch entirely that day, thus the stop at McDonalds!) She has ALWAYS had a hearty appetite, and would always eat things other kids her age despised, or refused to try. She was also super tiny…people were amazed when they would see her walking. They thought she was no older than 7 or 8 months! (She was about one at the time) She still loves food, loves to try new things, and she is nice and slim. She’s obviously MY child. She loves food, and has a high metabolism. Oh, and NO food allergies either. She still amazes people, both by the amount of food she can eat at one sitting AND by WHAT those foods ARE! (Did I mention she’s ‘super active’? She loves sports, dancing, gymnastics, etc. She is well-focused too. She’s good at most everything she likes.) Brag button off now. Sorry.

  7. by Jazmin

    On June 22, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    My daughter Eriani started her rice creal around 3 months shes sometimed ate her applesauce when we gave it to her. Shes about to be 4 months this friday and she will start her baby foods that i will make for her.

  8. by Shanon

    On June 27, 2011 at 7:10 am

    What about open gut?

    We never messed with rice cereal. I exclusively breast fed until my LO started to become interested in foods around 7 months old. At almost a year she still nurses throughout the day and a few times at night in addition to three solid food meals with a couple of snacks. I’d like to see the actual study and not just a summary! Amazing because the other article on your site says 1 in 13 kids have food allergies. Where are these allergies coming from?

  9. [...] Delaying allergens for babies is unnecessary, study says (Parents.com) [...]

  10. by Miki

    On July 1, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    I followed all of the rules, baby food at six months, cows milk at 1 year, you name it and I did it. My son who is now 4 years old has massive allergies that showed up when he was about 1 and a half. I think that you just have to watch your child and do what is right for you and your child.

  11. by Diana from Cville

    On July 7, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    We did Baby Led Weaning so we began holdable foods at 6 months. Foods among her first: toast w/ goat cheese, scrambled eggs, large pieces of meat to suck on (whatever we were having she got a piece of), tofu, fresh mozzarella, peaches, nectarines, broccoli, hearts of palm…

  12. by Maggie

    On September 2, 2011 at 7:37 am

    I feel that when writing an article like this you really should mention that the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization both recommend exclusive nursing for 6 months. We don’t raise our kids in a vacuum. This one piece of news, that food introduction doesn’t cause allergies, does not mean you can feed your kids early. Breastmilk keeps the acidity level of the stomach very low so that the lining of the stomach and intestines has time to fully form. Adding food or formula increases the acid level to adult-levels way too soon. How many babies do you know who have chronic acid reflux and are on Xanax for their first few years of life? Early weaning is not a fad that you can follow because of the latest poll.