There is a large amount of conflicting information on when we should expose allergenic foods to our infants. The most recent evidence suggests that we should be introducing these foods (cow’s milk protein, soy, eggs, wheat, peanut and tree nuts, fish and shellfish) at 4 months. In the Leap Trial, potentially allergenic foods were introduced between 3 months and 6 months. Here is a link to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology Document on this topic.
Below I have summarized some main points:
1) The research states that delaying the introduction of high allergenic foods may increase the risk of developing allergies.
2) Research suggests the introduction of such foods between 4 & 6 months.
3) Allergenic foods should only be introduced following the introduction of non-allergenic foods.
5) If there is a need to feed baby formula, choosing a hydrolyzed formula may help prevent the development of atopic dermatitis.
6) Foods should be introduced every 3-5 days to be able to identify any food that is causing an allergy.
The World Health Organisation states that exclusive breastfeeding should continue until 6 months and thereafter complimentary foods should be introduced to meet their nutritional needs (see link below).
In the Leap trial, already breastfeeding mothers continued to successfully breastfeed with the introduction of these foods.
It is always the parents choice as to when to start introducing solid foods of any kind. As health professionals it is our role to share the most up to date research with our clients so that they may make the best decisions for them and their infants.