The Most Recent Feeding Guidelines for Your Baby’s First Year
The first year of your baby's life will be full of challenges like sleep deprivation, and heart-exploding love. During each stage of your baby's development, you will be faced with parenting decisions that you will research until your eyes are bloodshot from searching Google until 3:00 a.m. for the fourth night in a row.
If your baby is close to reaching the age of exploring table foods, you are probably in the midst of this new developmental stage. Lately, there have been some huge changes in this area of childhood development. Here's a recap of what those changes are:
Perhaps the biggest change in the recommendations is the timeline for introducing high allergen food during the first year. Current research has shown that high allergen foods such as peanut butter, shellfish, and eggs can be introduced to babies as early as 4 months, although it's generally encouraged to delay solids until after 6 months. These recommendations come from come the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology from a January article in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology: In Practice.
Studies have shown that introducing babies to these foods can help prevent food allergies from developing. These foods should be offered after a child has been introduced to the typical first foods, such as fruits and vegetables.
The previous guidelines recommended introducing solid foods between 4 and 6 months. Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend solid foods should be introduced around 6 months of age and when the baby has displayed skills in the following developmental areas:
- Sits with support
- Demonstrates good head control
- Can push self up from elbows from laying face down
- Shows interest in food presentation such as leaning forward when a bite is presented and turning head away when full
According to UptoDate:
If your infant has no signs of allergy (including eczema) with the initial foods, additional foods can be introduced gradually, including the highly allergenic foods (e.g., cow's milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts [although not whole nuts because of choking risk], soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish). Whole cow's milk should not be given to any child until after age 12 months, but yogurt and cheese can be given before 12 months.
Additionally, there is no one food that is what you should first offer your baby. Single-ingredient foods such as meats, fruits, and vegetables are best since it's easiest to determine if a food allergy or sensitivity is present. The only foods you should avoid until 1 year is honey and whole peanuts.
The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends breastfeeding for the first year of life–exclusively for around 6 months, and then gradually introducing solid foods.
The benefits of breastfeeding for the first year include:
- Increased resistance to common illnesses
- Decreased instances of ear infections, gastroenteritis, and pneumonia
- Decreased risk of SIDS, colitis, diabetes, diabetes, and obesity later in life
I shared a new movement for skipping rice cereal as a first food in a previous blog post. Dr. Alan Greene, pediatrician and father of four, started the White Out movement in 2011 to educate parents, pediatricians, and retailers about the need to move away from feeding babies white rice cereal, as well as getting it off the grocery store shelves.
The main ingredient in white rice cereal is processed white flour, which a baby's metabolism cannot break down effectively. Dr. Greene further stated that feeding a baby white rice cereal is essentially like feeding them a spoonful of sugar.
The American Academy of Pediatrics stresses the importance of introducing a baby to foods rich in iron, including winter squash, sweet potatoes, prune juice, and meat. Additionally, regular whole grain cereals, such as oatmeal, are a much better option than white rice cereal.