With a wealth of information widely available online and baby feeding guidelines changing rapidly from what seems like year to year, it's not surprising for any new parent to feel uneasy about starting their baby on solid food.
With allergies being at the forefront of parents' concerns these days, many are taking extra caution when it comes to introducing certain foods to their little ones, such as peanuts, fish and eggs. To ease some of these concerns, this week, the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy released their guidelines for infant feeding for allergy prevention in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA).
Though it seems counterproductive given that allergies are on the rise, especially in regions like Australia, study lead author Dr. Preeti Joshi explains that it is nevertheless recommended to incorporate eggs and peanuts into a baby's diet by 12 months, regardless of their risk factors. Two other main recommendations include introducing infants to sold food around six months (but not before four months) and discontinuing the use of hydrolyzed (partially and extensively) formula for the prevention of allergic disease.
With formula, in particular, researchers found no evidence to support its use in preventing eczema, food allergy, asthma or allergic rhinitis in children. In contrast, this view is not supported by other health administrations - namely, the US Food and Drug Administration - which still sees one brand of partially hydrolyzed formula marketing itself as a product that reduces the risk of eczema.
According to Dr. Joshi, there is "moderate evidence" that suggests babies who regularly consume peanuts could reduce the risk of developing an allergy down the road. She also suggested parents feed their children eggs and peanuts twice a week, to the same effect.
Dr. Richard Loh, a clinical associate professor and immunologist, understands why parents may feel conflicted about offering their very young children foods that could be a high risk for causing an allergic reaction - especially when these new guidelines come on the heels of completely different recommendations merely a decade ago.
"Ten years ago research suggested peanuts should be introduced by the three-year mark, so it's a valid point for parents to feel conflicted by this new information," he said. He added that if parents are especially concerned, they should consult a medical professional.
"Any parent who is cautious should consult with their doctor."