Allergist Angela Hogan, MD: So the first thing that I think would be most important for moms to remember that we still think breastfeeding is best and that as we begin food introduction, we want to continue breastfeeding if that’s an option. And we also know that as we introduce foods, we don’t necessarily have a need to decrease the amount of breast milk that we have.
I think it’s also important to remind moms that they don’t need to alter their diet in any way while they’re breastfeeding in terms of what foods they avoid in order to prevent food allergies. It’s been clearly shown that that does not prevent food allergies and in fact may increase the risk for food allergies if they take foods out of their diet.
So continue to breastfeed with their normal diet.
When a child is around four months or so, they may be ready to have solid foods introduced. You’re going to know your child is ready for solid foods if they can be propped up or sit up by themselves that they are able to swallow independently. You might use a spoon and poke a bite into their mouth and make sure that they don’t tongue it back out, and those are signs that they’re ready to have foods introduced.
What your first food is pretty much totally up to you. As a general pediatrician, I oftentimes like to introduce yellow or orange vegetables first or maybe an infant cereal that you feel comfortable with. We are looking for things that don’t have a lot of texture to them, so that they can learn to swallow effectively.
It’s really important that we think about introducing those foods between four and six months because now currently based on the guidelines from both the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, we know that egg and peanut need to be introduced somewhere between four and six months of life. We know that all infants should have those foods introduced into their diet so that we can help reduce the risk for development of egg and peanut allergy.
So it’s important that we get a first food into their diet so that those foods can then be added to whatever their first food is and once we’ve introduced egg and peanut into their diet early on, we want to keep it consistently in the diet so that they continue to develop oral tolerance to those foods.