New Guidelines on Preventing Food Allergies in Babies – Here's What Parents Need to Know

Doctors have new advice for preventing peanut and other food allergies.

By: Amanda Mushro
Photo Taken In Kempen, Germany

Photo Taken In Kempen, Germany

Photo by: Ulrike Hammerich / EyeEm

Ulrike Hammerich / EyeEm

Introducing solid food to your baby is the perfect time to snap some adorable pictures of your little one with food covering their face and just about every other inch of their body. However, it can also be a time when parents have a lot of questions about what they should or should not be feeding their baby. This week The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released new guidelines that can help parents navigate their baby’s first foods — especially foods that were once believed to cause food allergies.

According to the new report, the AAP says there is no convincing evidence that suggests delaying the introduction of allergenic foods — like peanuts and eggs – beyond 4 to 6 months of age works in preventing food allergies. In fact, they say there is strong evidence suggesting that early introduction of peanuts, even as early as 4 months, may prevent the development of a peanut allergy.

"There is no reason to delay giving your baby foods that are thought of as allergens like peanut products, eggs or fish," Dr. Scott Sicherer, a co-author of the report, said in a statement. "These foods can be added to the diet early, just like foods that are not common allergens, like rice, fruits or vegetables."

While there has been some confusion among parents based on the 2008 guidelines, which stated delaying these types of food will not prevent allergies, these guidelines are clear — doctors want babies to try foods like peanuts and eggs.

The report from the AAP references another food allergy study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which recommends that children who are at high risk for peanut allergies be introduced peanuts-based foods when they are 4 to 6 months. What they found was 1.9 percent of the participants introduced to peanuts early developed an allergy, compared to 13.7 percent of kids who waited until they were 5 years-old to be consume peanuts.

Before you break out the jar of peanut butter, be careful. The AAP warns parents that peanuts and peanut butter are choking hazards for young children. They advise parents to offer up peanut butter that has been smoothed into pureed fruits or vegetables.

Then when your baby is old enough, you can happily pack lots of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in their lunches.

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