Introducing Allergens to Babies
Food allergies among children in the UK are on the rise. Dr Sophie explains how to safely introduce allergens to your baby.
You can start with either a smooth puree or finger food, which dissolves easily in your baby’s mouth. Your baby’s first foods should ideally be ones of neutral or even bitter taste, in order to get them used to a new world of flavours easily. Try a puree of dark green vegetables or a stem of soft-steamed broccoli. It is sometimes easier to offer the first solids after a feed of breast milk or formula because this makes sure that your child can focus on the new experience rather than on satisfying her or his hunger.
"If you decide to try spoon-feeding, make sure to use a soft, rounded spoon, which is gentle on your baby's gum. Don’t forget to get an assortment of bibs as introducing solids will get messy!"
Ready for the action?
Step 1. Offer a small spoonful of puree. Approach your baby’s mouth from above and open your own mouth. Your baby will imitate you.
Step 2. Keep the spoon in the front part of your baby’s mouth. Slowly take the spoon back out by wiping it against the upper lip, leaving some of the puree in your baby’s mouth.
Step 3: Smile and make yummy noises with every try. This shows your child that you also enjoy this experience and your baby will want to go for more!
Your child might be either irritated by the new experience or excited. Don't worry, some children are confused by the new texture and might spit the food out or even cry. In this case give it some rest and have another try a few days later. Some children will need several attempts to get used to this new experience, so don’t worry if things get out of control.
Some babies will be so excited about discovering something new that they will even try doing everything themselves. These children will enjoy holding a plastic spoon in their hands while being fed or prefer to go onto finger foods.
In any case, it will take some time for your baby and her or his gut to get used to the new food, so make sure to take a break after 2 or 3 spoonfuls when you try it for the first time. Some studies show that babies may need 10-15 experiences with new flavours until they accept them. And remember: don’t worry if things don't work out as planned the first time around. Stay positive and try it again another time!
Tell us about your own experiences.
Dr Sophie Niedermaier
In-house Pediatrician & Co-Founder of Little Tummy
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