How Many Days Do You Need To Wait Between Foods?
There’s no question that parents should start introducing solids and diverse foods around 4-6 months of age – especially common allergens like shellfish, peanut, and egg. Research has shown that introducing these foods early is safe and plays an important role in reducing food allergy risk in children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends it along with other pediatric organizations.
We want food introduction to be fun and joyful, not scary. Parents can feel confident following new guidelines and take their own journeys to get food diversity into their babies’ diets. What we don’t want parents to do is wait and go slow. We know that the longer parents wait, the greater the risk for food allergy development. New research out this month showed that food allergy experts do not recommend waiting days between new foods because food introduction will stretch out too long.
“From the perspective of food allergy detection and prevention, there is no reason why a new food can’t be tried every day. The guidelines need to be revisited and updated to reflect the latest research on food allergy prevention and to provide greater clarity for pediatricians and parents on safe solid food introduction to infants.” – senior author Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, Director of the Center of Food Allergy and Asthma Research and Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Lurie Children’s.
Consistency is Key
Intermittent or “one bite” exposure to foods may not be enough to protect babies. Like any great habit (think toothbrushing), research shows the immune system works best when it’s exposed to a wide variety of foods regularly throughout a child’s early years. Scientists think regular, consistent exposure to common allergens in the diet throughout early childhood is key to staying healthy.
Pacing Food Introduction
So what kind of parent are you? What journey feels right? All of the below options follow current guidelines and recommendations and we want to offer parents lots of different pathways to get diet diversity into their babies’ diets.
“Eager To Protect” Mom: You feel confident in following current food introduction guidelines and prioritize the critical window, starting at 4 months of age.
Your plan: Continue breast and/or formula feeding but begin introducing diverse foods using solutions like SpoonfulOne which can be added to bottles and mixed with breastmilk, formula, and/or purees.
“Middle-of-the-Road” Mom: You feel better giving your little one a few extra months before starting solids.
Your plan: Begin introducing a variety of foods at 6 months of age. You can follow baby-led weaning methods or use purees. You can continue to breastfeed or bottle feed. Incorporate SpoonfulOne every day to ensure they are being introduced to the 16 foods responsible for more than 90% of food allergies.
“Cautious, But Won’t Delay” Mom: You’d rather introduce a diverse new food every day.
Your plan: Starting at 4-6 months of age, you’re intentional about introducing one new food every day, ideally some common allergens (milk, egg, peanut) right from the start. Once you have several foods in the diet, you begin adding in SpoonfulOne to ensure you’re also getting the 16 foods responsible for 90% of food allergies into your baby’s diet every single day as they grow and develop.
Regardless of the plan you pick, you can feel confident you are providing your child with the most comprehensive food allergy protection possible.
Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson is a pediatrician, mom to two boys, and the Chief Medical Officer at SpoonfulOne. SpoonfulOne is a line of nutritional products designed to help stop a food allergy before it starts.*