When should I start feeding my baby solids? Is there anything I can do to prevent them developing allergies? These new feeding guidelines for babies will help guide you.
The answers to these questions were discussed last week in Melbourne at The Centre for Food and Allergy Research summit. The consensus is clear: Start around 6 months, but not before 4. All infants, including those at high risk of allergy, should be given allergenic solid foods including peanut butter, cooked egg, dairy and wheat products in the first year of life.
In the past, the recommendation in Australia, Europe and the US has been to delay these forms of solids until after the age of 1 or even 2.
Murdoch Children's Research Institute paediatric gastroenterologist and allergist Professor Katie Allen told the summit: “We used to tell people to avoid peanut, eggs and cow’s milk, and now we’re saying introduction is safe and maybe even be protective.
"People are not introducing the allergenic solids in a timely manner... and that may be increasing and driving the rates of allergy in our community.''
There is no evidence that breastfeeding or hydrolysed milk formula is preventative against allergies. However, Prof Allen said that starting solids is unlikely to interfer with breastfeeding. She said: 'We do believe breastfeeding is best for a baby's healthy start to life, not just for bonding with the mother but IQ and infectious disease rates, so the breast is definitely the best way to go.'