Foods and Drinks to take care with during weaning (and in the first year of life)

Foods and Drinks to take care with during weaning (and in the first year of life)

I asked weaning parents what they wanted to know more about and this was mentioned and is a common question for parents about to start weaning…..so here we go with the answer…. it’s not a short one so bear with…..

Firstly and importantly; you don’t need to avoid allergenic foods unless your baby already has a known allergy to them.

The main foods that can cause allergy are:

  • Cows’ milk & milk products
  • Foods that contain gluten, including wheat, barley and rye
  • Eggs & products containing eggs
  • Fish & shellfish
  • Nuts (serve crushed or ground)
  • Seeds (serve crushed or ground)
  • Soya

These should be introduced from 6 months and one at a time and in very small amounts; so that it is easier to spot a reaction.  It may also help to leave a couple of days before you introduce the next allergenic food. There is no evidence that waiting until your baby is older will stop them developing a food allergy.

Some Important Points when it comes to allergy:

  • Your baby is at higher-risk if they have early onset eczema (in first 3 months) or already has an allergy and if you are concerned see an allergist and get a skin prick test first before introducing solids to higher-risk babies
  • Guidelines say if your baby is at higher-risk they may benefit from early introduction of solids – See Bsaci guidelines: http://www.bsaci.org/about/early-feeding-guidance
  • If your baby has severe eczema speak to your healthcare professional before introducing egg and peanut
  • Evidence indicates that deliberate exclusion or delay of introduction of eggs & peanuts beyond 6-12 months may increase the risk of allergy to these foods
  • Keep offering all allergenic foods to continue your baby’s tolerance
  • For peanuts – thinly spread smooth peanut butter (PB) on toast or offer a teaspoon of thinned down PB (1 tsp mixed with 1tsp warm water) stirred into porridge or fruit puree or offer as finely ground nuts
  • For egg – offer scrambled, boiled (cut up or mashed) or as an omelette cut into strips. Choose ‘British Lion Stamp’ otherwise they need to be well-cooked
  • Do not feed your baby something they are already allergic to
  • If you think your baby may be having an allergic reaction stop giving the food and seek medical advice

There are some foods to avoid or limit in the first year of life:

  • Adding salt & foods high in salt such as bacon (use herbs & mild spices & baby stock cubes)
  • Adding sugar & foods high in sugar
  • Honey – avoid under 1 year due to risk of infant botulism
  • Whole nuts – avoid until 5 years because they are a choking hazard
  • Limit low-fat, low calorie or high fibre foods –these can fill your baby up before they have room for all the nutritious foods they need and also they don’t contain enough energy and fat for little tummies
  • Liver– can be offered once a week after 6 months
  • Avoid shark, swordfish, marlin & raw shellfish
  • Whole milk can be used as an ingredient or in cooking from 6 months but not as a main milk drink until 1 year (Semi-skimmed milk can be introduced once your child is 2 years old, as long as they’re a good eater and have a varied diet.)
  • Goats’ and sheep’s milk aren’t suitable as a drink for babies under 1 year
  • All babies who can’t tolerate cows’ milk under the age of 1 should be either breastfed or on a suitable infant formula – speak to a paediatric dietitian for advice on this
  • Plant-based drinks are not suitable for babies under 1 year as their main drink and they should be used with caution in children under 2 years of age – again speak to a paediatric dietitian
  • Toddlers and young children under the age of 5 shouldn’t be given rice drinks because of the levels of arsenic they contain
  • Good night & follow-on milks are not required after 6 months (and should be avoided before 6 months)
  • Eggs should be well cooked, unless they have the ‘British Lion Quality’ stamp – in which case they can be eaten lightly cooked
  • Avoid mould-ripened soft cheeses and cheeses made from unpasteurised milk – these cheeses can be used as part of a cooked recipe though
  • Fruit juice; there is no requirement to offer this and if you do it should be well diluted (one part juice, 10 parts water); milk (breastmilk or formula) & water are the best drinks
  • Ready meals or take-away foods made for adults
  • Artificially sweetened foods and drinks
  • Soft drinks, squashes and fruit cordials
  • Drinks with added caffeine or stimulants
  • Teas and coffee
  • Alcohol

So there you have it (told you it was not a short answer!). Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Sarah

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