03.What to feed baby
At the end of 2008, the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA), peak body of Australian and New Zealand clinical immunologists and consultant allergy physicians, reviewed traditional advice for delaying the introduction of certain foods for babies. Previously, the advice for milk and eggs was to delay their introduction until about eight months, and nuts until two years old.
After reviewing the published evidence, ASCIA concluded there was no evidence that delaying allergenic foods, such as eggs or milk, actually prevented allergies. The new ASCIA advice on infant feeding includes introducing foods the family eats (ensuring the texture is appropriate), starting by around six months old, when your baby is ready – ideally when breastfeeding. It advises starting with plain cereals, then adding a new family food every few days.
Introducing allergenic foods to babies
ASCIA says there aren’t any particular allergenic foods that need to be avoided, although you should take care with the texture of foods to minimise the possibility of choking. ASCIA’s evidence also suggests it’s possible, though not proven, that delaying introducing allergenic foods could contribute to higher allergy rates. Some studies are under way to find out whether earlier introduction of allergenic foods might actually help reduce the incidence of allergies in children.
The ASCIA advice is relevant to all babies, whether or not there’s a family history of allergy or reason to think the baby might be at high risk. Some experts, however, suggest their high-risk families introduce new food cautiously; try a little on their lips or face first, for example. For more information on allergies, go to the ASCIA website where you can follow links to a list of allergy and immunology specialists in Australia and New Zealand.