Weaning: allergies and busting common myths


Certain foods are unsuitable to give to a baby. Foods that should be avoided until your baby is at least 12 months old are:

• salt/sugar
• pâté
• shellfish
• spices
• smoked foods
• soft/blue cheese
• nuts and seeds (although peanut butter and nut spreads can be introduced after six months)
• honey – in rare cases honey can contain a type of bacteria which, if ingested by a baby under the age of one year, may cause serious illness.

Citrus, berries and kiwi fruit can cause adverse reactions, but you can start introducing these from six months.

Childhood food allergies seem to be on the increase, so it’s natural that some parents might be nervous about introducing foods that could cause problems. However, it’s worth noting that the actual incidence of food allergy in babies is very small - about six per cent. Many babies grow out of allergies like cow’s milk allergy by the age of two or three.

Food allergies are more common among babies and children from families with a history of food allergy. Babies who suffer from eczema are also a high risk of suffering from food allergies. Babies who develop severe eczema before the age of three months are at very high risk, so you need to be particularly cautious when introducing new foods.

Busting the myths

  • Don’t feed solids until 6 months: By waiting until six months, babies could be missing out on essential nutrients such as the iron and essential fatty acids that come from eating meat and oily fish
  • Start with bland food: weaning offers a precious window of opportunity to develop your baby’s taste buds – at this stage they are most receptive to new tastes.
  • Allergies: Delayed weaning has no impact on the development of allergies. Instead, it may make it more difficult to encourage your baby to eat solid foods.
  • Teething means solids: The development of teeth doesn’t mean your baby is ready for solids. Some babies cut their milk teeth around four months, which is early for weaning.
  • Weight gain: It’s often suggested that underweight babies benefit from early weaning, but research shows that continuing with milk feeds encourages your baby to reach their optimum weight, as initial foods are often low in energy.
  • Low-fat, high-fibre food is good but not for babies: Babies need proportionately more fat in their diet than adults, so don’t give low fat milk or yogurt as they need nutrient dense foods to fuel their rapid growth. Too much fibre can deplete the body of vital minerals and fill up your baby’s small tummy before he gets the nutrients he needs.

My baby used to be a good eater ... what am I doing wrong?

Babies grow more rapidly in their first year than at any other time in their life. Rate of growth slows down towards the end of the first year, and so does their appetite. They also become more mobile and less likely to stay strapped into a high chair. They also start to assert their independence and want to feed themselves … not always very successfully!

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Download Annabel's Essential Guide to Feeding Your Baby and Toddler for lots of family food inspiration. The app offers instant access to 200 delicious recipes for little ones and the whole family, as well as features such as weekly planners, shopping lists, a kitchen timer, recipe notes and videos. Download now on iTunes or visit www.annabelkarmel.com.