Is it time to start solid food with your infant?
When I was a kid, I didn't know anyone with a food allergy. "What? You can't eat PEANUTS??" That would have been my reaction if I met someone who couldn't have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a staple in my 1980's lunchbox. Flash forward more years than I'd care to mention, and here we are, living in a time when the SCENT OF A PEANUT (is this a movie yet?) is enough to send parents rushing out of a birthday party. It SOUNDS like a crazy 80's movie plot, but, again, here we are.
By no means am I attempting to negate the fear parents have when it comes to food allergies. They are some of the most frightening topics we speak to parents about when making a plan to introduce solids to infants (allergies and choking - the WORST), and we encourage parents to steer clear of avoiding allergens altogether - which is exactly what may have gotten us into this allergy mess in the first place.
We get it. You're afraid of introducing a food that's known to cause allergies. You don't know if your child is sensitive to certain foods, and you don't want to chance a reaction. It could be peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, soy, fish, shellfish, or wheat, but let's use the PEANUT for example, since it's the biggest, baddest, fear-inducing allergen of them all.
The peanut is a power-packed legume (not. a. NUT.) that has protein, fiber, tons of vitamins and minerals, and may lower blood pressure and cholesterol, plus, it tastes good on crackers, in smoothies, as a sammich, in savory and sweet dishes, and can be eaten directly from a spoon. YUM. Unfortunately, the peanut is also responsible for reactions that can be as mild as itchiness, watery eyes, stomachache, and hives, or as severe as anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening. It is for this latter reason, that the peanut is the leading cause of allergy related anaphylaxis in the US, that we find many parents AVOIDING it altogether.
Unless specifically advised by a doctor, please don't do this.
The recommendation for when to introduce allergenic foods to children used to be no earlier than 1 year of age, no earlier than 3 for children thought to be high risk. The thinking was that 'perhaps' giving a child a longer time to develop antibodies might help curb the increase in incidence of allergy development. That reasoning seems to make sense, until you know that in order to develop an antibody to an allergen, the body has to be exposed to it first. With fewer children being exposed to potentially highly allergenic foods during a time when their little bodies were primed to develop the appropriate antibodies, development of food allergies surged, with some even calling it an "epidemic" (not exactly true).
Thankfully, today, research has been (and continues to be) conducted with results that instead have led doctors to recommend that parents expose infants to these potential allergens as early as first foods. We've never used these foods as very first foods, but have introduced them shortly after general food tolerance has been established. Thankfully, we've only ever had positive results and have yet to work with a child who has developed any food allergy.
Unless your child is already known to be at risk for food allergies (family history/genetic predisposition), has a sibling with food allergies, or shows signs of having an atopic allergy like asthma or eczema, you shouldn't avoid the peanut or other foods - and even THEN, you may potentially lessen the severity of your child's sensitivity through repeated exposure at an early age.*
*The information given by OneTwoThrive Kids is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content on or available through this website is for general information purposes only.