How to Introduce Allergenic Foods to Your Baby

  • What the Top 9 allergenic foods are and how you can use real food to introduce them to your baby
  • What to do if your baby has an allergic reaction to food…and why they are unlikely to die from that
  • How to safely introduce all of the Top 9 allergenic foods in the first 9 weeks after starting solids


Episode Description

What if your baby has an allergic reaction to a food? The only way to know if your baby is allergic is to offer them that food…but there are some safety guidelines you want to know about.

In this episode we’ll look at the recent research and updated guidelines that support early introduction of potentially allergenic foods and then how to safely prepare those foods to help lower your baby’s risk of food allergy.


Other Episodes Related to this Topic

Links from Episode

  • Puffworks Baby peanut and almond puffs for introducing 2 separate allergenic food categories (peanut and treenut) are available for 15% off with affiliate discount code BLWPOD - shop here
  • Baby-Led Weaning with Katie Ferraro program with the 100 First Foods™ Daily Meal Plan, join here: https://babyledweaning.co/program 
  • Baby-Led Weaning for Beginners free online workshop with 100 First Foods™ list to all attendees, register here: https://workshop.babyledweaning.co  
Click Here for Episode Transcript Toggle answer visibility

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<v SPEAKER_1>What are the best foods for your baby when you're starting Baby-Led Weaning?

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<v SPEAKER_1>Now, there are no right or wrong foods for starting solid foods safely, but if you are looking for inspiration and ideas on foods your baby can eat, I have a free feeding guide called 10 Easy Starter Foods for Baby-Led Weaning that will give you a bit of a roadmap.

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<v SPEAKER_1>I packed this feeding guide full with two weeks full of new solid foods that your baby can eat.

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<v SPEAKER_1>And I also include tips on how to make them safer in order to lower the choking risk.

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<v SPEAKER_1>So you can download this free feeding guide.

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<v SPEAKER_1>Again, it's called 10 Easy Starter Foods for Baby-Led Weaning.

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<v SPEAKER_1>It has prep descriptions in there as well.

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<v SPEAKER_1>Go to babyledweaning.co.

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<v SPEAKER_1>slash resources.

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<v SPEAKER_1>Again, that's babyledweaning.co.

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<v SPEAKER_1>slash resources to download the 10 Easy Starter Foods for Baby-Led Weaning free feeding guide.

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<v SPEAKER_1>A very common question that I get from parents when they're starting solid foods is whether or not they can season or spice their baby's food.

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<v SPEAKER_1>And the answer is, your baby does not have to eat bland food.

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<v SPEAKER_1>Your baby has already had exposure to lots of different flavor compounds.

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<v SPEAKER_1>When you were pregnant, these flavors transferred to your baby via your amniotic fluid.

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<v SPEAKER_1>If you're breastfeeding, the flavor compounds from your diet transfer to your baby via your breast milk.

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<v SPEAKER_1>And when it comes to starting solid foods, please feel free to season away.

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<v SPEAKER_1>We just want to avoid any added sugars as well as excess salt or any spices that are super spicy and could harm your baby.

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<v SPEAKER_1>National Herbs and Spices Day is this week.

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<v SPEAKER_1>And if you need some low sodium seasoning and spice inspo for your baby, my number one recommendation is the No Salt Spice line from The Spice House.

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<v SPEAKER_1>The Spice House has been around since 1957 and they sell the finest herbs and spices.

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<v SPEAKER_1>And their No Salt line of spices is a wonderful way to safely season your baby's vegetables and meats and starchy foods, basically all the foods.

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<v SPEAKER_1>You can get everything at The Spice House at a discount when you use the affiliate discount code BLWT at checkout.

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<v SPEAKER_1>That code again is BLWT at thespicehouse.com and don't be shy about seasoning and spicing up your baby's food.

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<v SPEAKER_1>And while yes, it's true that we should wait a period of time between the introduction of the allergenic foods, for the rest of the low-risk foods, there's absolutely no data to support the idea that you need to wait three to five days between those foods.

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<v SPEAKER_1>They're very unlikely to cause a reaction.

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<v SPEAKER_1>Hey there, I'm Katie Ferraro, registered dietitian, college nutrition professor and mom of seven, specializing in Baby-Led Weaning.

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<v SPEAKER_1>Here on the Baby-Led Weaning With Katie Ferraro podcast, I help you strip out all of the noise and nonsense about feeding, giving you the confidence and knowledge you need to give your baby a safe start to solid foods using Baby-Led Weaning.

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<v SPEAKER_1>Hello and welcome to the Baby-Led Weaning Made Easy podcast.

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<v SPEAKER_1>This is Katie Ferraro, registered dietitian and mom of seven, specializing in Baby-Led Weaning.

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<v SPEAKER_1>Today, we are talking about why you don't need to wait three to five days between trying new foods with your baby.

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<v SPEAKER_1>Now, I teach these online workshops every week about Baby-Led Weaning for Beginners, and there's a Q&A session at the end.

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<v SPEAKER_1>And I would say one of the top three most frequently asked questions is, hang on, you're saying introduce one new food per day.

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<v SPEAKER_1>My doctor says wait three to five days between introducing new foods.

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<v SPEAKER_1>What gives?

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<v SPEAKER_1>Well, if any of you guys have taken my workshop or you're familiar with my five-step feeding framework, I teach a 101st foods approach to Baby-Led Weaning, whereby I teach you how to feed your baby five new foods a week, 20 new foods a month, 100 foods before your baby turns one.

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<v SPEAKER_1>But the crux of this is introducing your baby to five new foods per week.

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<v SPEAKER_1>And that does fly in the face of what many pediatricians say, which is you should wait three to five days between foods.

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<v SPEAKER_1>But as I like to start every episode with a Baby-Led Weaning tip of the day, today's tip is you don't need to wait three to five days between introducing low-risk foods.

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<v SPEAKER_1>Now, the key here, and I'm going to go into detail in today's episode, is to talk to you about the difference between low-risk foods and potentially allergenic foods, because they're two totally different things.

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<v SPEAKER_1>So you'll know which ones it's okay to introduce your baby to day after day, one new food per day, and then which ones you actually do need to wait a little bit longer.

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<v SPEAKER_1>But the caveat there is that there's two different categories.

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<v SPEAKER_1>And unfortunately, what a lot of pediatricians say, which is untrue, and what parents hear, which is unfortunate, is that they should wait three to five days between introducing all foods.

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<v SPEAKER_1>And there's no evidence to support that.

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<v SPEAKER_1>So if you guys have heard of the big eight allergenic foods, I think that's a good place to start.

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<v SPEAKER_1>The big eight allergenic foods are the eight foods that account for about 90% of food allergy.

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<v SPEAKER_1>So these are milk, egg, peanut, wheat, soy, tree nut, fish, and shellfish.

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<v SPEAKER_1>And then occasionally, sesame gets lumped in there as number nine because sesame allergy certainly is on the rise.

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<v SPEAKER_1>So let's say there's nine allergenic foods.

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<v SPEAKER_1>If you're introducing a hundred new foods to your baby and nine of them are allergenic foods, I feel like this is how I do math with my kindergartner, how many low-risk foods are left?

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<v SPEAKER_1>Ninety-one foods.

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<v SPEAKER_1>So if you have a copy of my 100 First Foods List, which you can grab on my free online workshop, Baby-Led Weaning for Beginners, it's all about how to teach your baby to eat a hundred foods without having to spoon feed purees or buy pouches.

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<v SPEAKER_1>You can sign up for that workshop.

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<v SPEAKER_1>I'll link to it in the show notes.

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<v SPEAKER_1>If you go to blwpodcast.com/12, I've got more information about food allergies there, including a link to the workshop.

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<v SPEAKER_1>On the workshop, I gave everyone my hundred first foods list, and I've now helped thousands of babies eat a hundred different foods before turning one.

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<v SPEAKER_1>And it's fascinating to see all the babies who want to eat a variety of foods when their parents and caregivers actually let them do it.

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<v SPEAKER_1>Because you guys, we know that there's research that shows us that babies who are exposed to the greatest variety of foods and flavors and tastes and textures, those are the babies who become independent eaters who are less likely to be picky eaters.

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<v SPEAKER_1>But if you're waiting five days between strawberries and corn, there's no way your baby is going to get to that big variety of foods in their repertoire that we want to see them have before they turn one.

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<v SPEAKER_1>So, in my five-step feeding framework, I teach you guys how to introduce your baby to five new foods per week.

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<v SPEAKER_1>I like to think of it as my job.

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<v SPEAKER_1>I have to go to work five days a week.

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<v SPEAKER_1>I need to introduce five new foods, Monday to Friday.

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<v SPEAKER_1>There's five food categories in the feeding framework.

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<v SPEAKER_1>The first bucket are fruits.

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<v SPEAKER_1>The second are vegetables.

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<v SPEAKER_1>The third are the starchy foods.

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<v SPEAKER_1>The fourth are protein foods.

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<v SPEAKER_1>And the fifth is the challenge.

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<v SPEAKER_1>So, I'm kind of type A, as many dieticians are, there are 20 foods in each of the five categories.

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<v SPEAKER_1>20 times 5 is 100.

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<v SPEAKER_1>If you introduce five new foods to your baby a week, one from each category, four weeks in a month, that's 20 foods a month, you do that for five months, your baby's eaten 100 different foods.

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<v SPEAKER_1>That's how you get your baby to the 100 first foods mark.

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<v SPEAKER_1>And parents will say, yeah, but you're doing one new food every week.

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<v SPEAKER_1>How would you observe for any reaction if you're introducing a new food?

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<v SPEAKER_1>How would you know if it was the food from yesterday or the food for today?

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<v SPEAKER_1>And the reality is if you look at the feeding framework, on the fifth day is when you introduce a challenge category food.

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<v SPEAKER_1>So inside of the challenge category, for the first nine weeks of starting solids, when the baby's six months of age plus exhibiting the other signs of readiness to feed, for those first six weeks of feeding, I do one new allergenic food per week on Friday.

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<v SPEAKER_1>I like to start with egg, milk and peanut.

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<v SPEAKER_1>Those are the three most common pediatric food allergies.

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<v SPEAKER_1>In episode 11, I talk to you more about how to introduce allergenic foods.

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<v SPEAKER_1>And I'll be going into more detail in future episodes about how you specifically introduce each one of those eight foods.

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<v SPEAKER_1>But let's suffice it to say, starting on week one, the fifth day that your baby eats solid foods, that Friday, give them an allergenic food.

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<v SPEAKER_1>I say start with yogurt.

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<v SPEAKER_1>It's a great way to do milk protein.

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<v SPEAKER_1>Week two, I do egg.

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<v SPEAKER_1>On Friday, week three, I do peanut.

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<v SPEAKER_1>Again, I'll have more resources and dedicated episodes for you about doing each of those.

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<v SPEAKER_1>But the point is, if you pay attention, you're introducing the new allergenic food on Friday.

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<v SPEAKER_1>There's actually seven days between the introduction of the first allergenic food and the next allergenic food.

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<v SPEAKER_1>That's longer than three to five days.

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<v SPEAKER_1>But the other days in the week, there is no reason why you cannot or should not introduce low-risk foods like avocado, banana, sweet potato, strawberry, corn, the 91 other foods on the 101st foods list that are almost unlikely for your baby to be allergic to.

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<v SPEAKER_1>Now, of course, there are always obscure food allergies.

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<v SPEAKER_1>A baby can be allergic to potentially any food.

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<v SPEAKER_1>But the reason why they're called the Big Eight Foods is because they account for 90% of food allergy.

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<v SPEAKER_1>And unless your baby is in the very small percentage of babies who are identified as being at high risk for food allergy, those high-risk babies, you should certainly consult your pediatrician.

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<v SPEAKER_1>You should know if your baby is at high risk, especially for peanut allergy.

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<v SPEAKER_1>The guidance has changed significantly.

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<v SPEAKER_1>We now know that the babies who are at high risk for peanut allergy are those who already have an egg allergy and or those who have severe eczema.

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<v SPEAKER_1>Not the run-of-the-mill eczema that I know your babies all have.

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<v SPEAKER_1>Severe eczema and or egg allergy.

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<v SPEAKER_1>Yes, those babies, we need to take precaution with peanuts.

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<v SPEAKER_1>And if your baby is allergic to peanuts, there's a higher risk for being allergic to tree nuts and vice versa.

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<v SPEAKER_1>But it doesn't necessarily mean your baby will be allergic to both.

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<v SPEAKER_1>And if your baby is not in that high risk category, you don't need to be scared to introduce peanuts one Friday and then do egg the next Friday.

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<v SPEAKER_1>And to do strawberries the day before peanut and to do corn the day after peanut.

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<v SPEAKER_1>For the low-risk foods, it's perfectly safe to introduce those foods one day at a time.

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<v SPEAKER_1>We do introduce a new food by itself.

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<v SPEAKER_1>We observe for any potential reaction.

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<v SPEAKER_1>The reality is if your baby is going to have a reaction, the vast majority of those reactions will occur within the minutes or the hours following the ingestion of that potentially offending food.

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<v SPEAKER_1>It's not like your baby is going to try a strawberry and then three days later you'll see a weird diaper and you're like, hmm, I wonder if that was the strawberry from a few days ago.

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<v SPEAKER_1>It doesn't work like that with the low-risk foods.

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<v SPEAKER_1>Now, what should you be observing for about reactions?

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<v SPEAKER_1>Well, anaphylactic reaction certainly is very serious and life-threatening, but again, unless your baby is at elevated risk for food allergies, it's unlikely that your baby would have an anaphylactic reaction to any of the new foods that you're introducing.

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<v SPEAKER_1>But things that are signs of allergic reaction in infants were looking for a rash around the mouth.

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<v SPEAKER_1>Oftentimes it's more like hives, which are raised red itchy patches all over the body.

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<v SPEAKER_1>Difficulty breathing, so changes in the respiratory patterns, maybe accompanied by extreme fussiness as well as vomiting.

00:12:03.012 --> 00:12:04.592

<v SPEAKER_1>Those are signs of allergic reaction.

00:12:04.872 --> 00:12:10.912

<v SPEAKER_1>Now just because your baby has a rash around their mouth, you will see rashes around your baby's mouth as you're trying foods.

00:12:11.192 --> 00:12:13.552

<v SPEAKER_1>And parents will say, oh my god, my baby's having an allergic reaction.

00:12:13.932 --> 00:12:21.012

<v SPEAKER_1>More often than not, when you call your pediatrician, they will tell you to treat it with a dose of children's benadryl, which is based on your baby's weight.

00:12:21.372 --> 00:12:32.512

<v SPEAKER_1>So one thing you can do ahead of time before you start solid foods is to know your baby's weight and get a recommended benadryl dose from your pediatrician, because when you call them anyway, that's exactly what they're going to tell you to do.

00:12:32.872 --> 00:12:40.532

<v SPEAKER_1>So again, a good majority of these reactions can just be treated with benadryl, but you do always want to consult your own child's pediatrician.

00:12:41.032 --> 00:12:45.032

<v SPEAKER_1>You have to keep in mind that babies aren't trying new foods in a vacuum, right?

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<v SPEAKER_1>There's other things going on at the same time, namely teething.

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<v SPEAKER_1>So with teething comes excess saliva, as the saliva is dripping all over your baby's face, and there's new foods and the compounds and the proteins from those foods interacting with that saliva, sometimes it can exacerbate a rash or cause the rash to be more pronounced than it might be otherwise.

00:13:04.152 --> 00:13:05.312

<v SPEAKER_1>Same thing goes for the diaper.

00:13:05.612 --> 00:13:12.272

<v SPEAKER_1>When your baby is teething, they're producing extra saliva, they swallow that saliva, it causes changes in the diaper.

00:13:12.692 --> 00:13:16.392

<v SPEAKER_1>Sometimes parents will say, oh, I saw some corn or whatever it is in my baby's stool.

00:13:16.412 --> 00:13:17.752

<v SPEAKER_1>That must mean they're allergic to it.

00:13:18.052 --> 00:13:18.932

<v SPEAKER_1>No, it does not.

00:13:19.312 --> 00:13:29.132

<v SPEAKER_1>Your baby's digestive system is mature enough, actually even at two to three months of age, to process and to tolerate and to digest all the different nutrients in foods.

00:13:29.412 --> 00:13:38.132

<v SPEAKER_1>Now, of course, we don't introduce solid foods to babies at two to three months of age because, A, they don't need it, breast milk and or formula is sufficient to meet their needs up until six months of age.

00:13:38.312 --> 00:13:39.492

<v SPEAKER_1>But secondly, it's not safe.

00:13:39.732 --> 00:13:43.692

<v SPEAKER_1>We don't introduce solid foods prior to six months of age because babies can't safely chew and swallow it.

00:13:43.992 --> 00:14:00.772

<v SPEAKER_1>But I mentioned the part about your baby's gut being able to handle these different foods, regardless of whether they're high-risk foods or low-risk foods, because when it comes to introducing new foods in the complementary foods period, starting at six months of age, we don't want to withhold any foods because we think our babies can't digest them.

00:14:01.232 --> 00:14:04.372

<v SPEAKER_1>So sometimes you'll hear, oh, your baby can't digest X, Y or Z food.

00:14:04.732 --> 00:14:05.732

<v SPEAKER_1>No, that's not true.

00:14:05.972 --> 00:14:16.472

<v SPEAKER_1>If your baby has an allergic reaction to the protein in the food, yes, then we need to deal with that with an autoepinephrine injector, which your pediatrician would need to prescribe to you.

00:14:16.492 --> 00:14:19.772

<v SPEAKER_1>You don't just get one of those in the event that your baby has a reaction.

00:14:19.852 --> 00:14:24.852

<v SPEAKER_1>Having Benadryl on hand and your doctor's phone number is probably the most that you would need to do.

00:14:25.232 --> 00:14:27.812

<v SPEAKER_1>Hey, we're going to take a quick break, but I'll be right back.

00:14:33.905 --> 00:14:35.885

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00:15:07.263 --> 00:15:13.863

<v SPEAKER_1>So I want to encourage you to offer your baby one new food a day, one new allergenic food a week.

00:15:14.263 --> 00:15:18.463

<v SPEAKER_1>And when it comes to that allergenic food introduction, you can't just do it once and then check it off the list.

00:15:18.623 --> 00:15:30.383

<v SPEAKER_1>Sorry, the guidance about introduction of allergenic food says we have to do it early and often, which means you do eggs one day, you do eggs later in the day, you might do eggs the next day, and then eggs later that day.

00:15:30.743 --> 00:15:32.603

<v SPEAKER_1>Offer these foods early and often.

00:15:32.623 --> 00:15:36.883

<v SPEAKER_1>And parents always ask, well, then what constitutes an efficacious dose?

00:15:36.903 --> 00:15:41.503

<v SPEAKER_1>Like how many grams of shellfish protein should my baby have over a three-day period?

00:15:41.843 --> 00:15:43.443

<v SPEAKER_1>Again, there's no answer to that.

00:15:43.703 --> 00:15:52.943

<v SPEAKER_1>The guidance about early and often is actually purposely vague because we don't know exactly how much of these proteins should be introduced.

00:15:53.123 --> 00:16:04.783

<v SPEAKER_1>There are certain studies that analyzed X number of grams over Y number of days, but it's not to say that less or more over fewer or more days would have been more or less efficacious as far as preventing food allergy goes.

00:16:05.023 --> 00:16:15.743

<v SPEAKER_1>So I mentioned that not to confuse you further or frustrate you, although it is frustrated to be told something nebulous like, well, give it to your baby early and often because that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

00:16:16.043 --> 00:16:18.703

<v SPEAKER_1>But just so you know, you're not missing something.

00:16:18.783 --> 00:16:25.643

<v SPEAKER_1>There's not like a recipe out there for how many grams of soy protein your baby needs to have at six and a half months of age.

00:16:25.983 --> 00:16:27.263

<v SPEAKER_1>You work on your own schedule.

00:16:27.603 --> 00:16:38.023

<v SPEAKER_1>I recommend one new allergenic food a week because what that helps you do is in the first nine weeks of starting solid foods right after your baby turns eight months old or eight months of age, you've already knocked out those big eight allergenic foods.

00:16:38.343 --> 00:16:41.603

<v SPEAKER_1>By that point, when your baby's eight months of age, they're cruising.

00:16:41.643 --> 00:16:44.063

<v SPEAKER_1>It is time to move into the trickier textures.

00:16:44.243 --> 00:16:46.263

<v SPEAKER_1>You start moving into the combination foods.

00:16:46.383 --> 00:16:48.663

<v SPEAKER_1>Your baby's eating all these more complex flavors.

00:16:49.003 --> 00:16:51.723

<v SPEAKER_1>That's when everything really clicks with Baby-Led Weaning.

00:16:51.903 --> 00:17:03.383

<v SPEAKER_1>And I think you'll find you really start to enjoy it a lot more once your baby's kind of gotten over the hump of some of these harder foods, which for some families, feeding your baby shellfish or fish is going to be a little more challenging.

00:17:03.563 --> 00:17:08.163

<v SPEAKER_1>But I'll have lots of tips for you on how to do that inside a future podcast episode.

00:17:08.183 --> 00:17:21.183

<v SPEAKER_1>So in the meantime, if you want to check out that free online workshop, again, it's called Baby-Led Weaning for Beginners, How to Get Your Baby to Try 100 Foods Before Turning 1 Without You Spoon-Feeding Purees or Having to Buy Pouches.

00:17:21.663 --> 00:17:29.023

<v SPEAKER_1>You can sign up for that at the show notes page for this particular episode, which is blwpodcast.com/12.

00:17:29.323 --> 00:17:32.383

<v SPEAKER_1>I give everyone on that workshop a copy of my 100 First Foods list.

00:17:32.683 --> 00:17:34.043

<v SPEAKER_1>And I host a Q&A at the end.

00:17:34.063 --> 00:17:38.983

<v SPEAKER_1>So if you're still confused about some of this allergenic stuff, I'll help clear it up for you.

00:17:39.263 --> 00:17:42.083

<v SPEAKER_1>Again, go to blwpodcast.com/12.

00:17:42.403 --> 00:17:43.443

<v SPEAKER_1>Thanks for being here.

00:17:43.563 --> 00:17:43.983

<v SPEAKER_1>Bye now.

00:17:53.266 --> 00:17:56.146

<v SPEAKER_4>Hi friends, are you looking for a new podcast?

00:17:56.246 --> 00:17:58.086

<v SPEAKER_4>Maybe something you can share with your littles?

00:17:58.506 --> 00:18:00.626

<v SPEAKER_4>Something that has some storytelling in it?

00:18:00.866 --> 00:18:02.046

<v SPEAKER_4>Well then, look no further.

00:18:02.046 --> 00:18:09.426

<v SPEAKER_4>We have Storytime with Philip and Mommy, where my son and I sit and discuss all the great books that you might love while we read them.

00:18:09.866 --> 00:18:15.446

<v SPEAKER_4>So, little golden books, Berenstain Bears, and even the new classics like Bluey.

00:18:15.746 --> 00:18:19.946

<v SPEAKER_4>We sit down, we read, we discuss, and we have so much fun doing it.

00:18:20.226 --> 00:18:20.946

<v SPEAKER_4>Come and join us.

00:18:21.286 --> 00:18:23.366

<v SPEAKER_4>Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.


The Program Baby-Led Weaning with Katie Ferraro

A digital course & step-by-step guide for starting solid foods safely with baby-led weaning

  • Feeding schedule and meal plans 100 FIRST FOODS DAILY MEAL PLAN WITH FOOD PREP VIDEOS

Baby-Led Weaning for Beginners Free Workshop

Is your baby ready to start solid foods, but you’re not sure what to do? Register for this free online video workshop and learn how to give your baby a safe start to solid foods using baby-led weaning. Everyone on this free training receives a copy of Katie’s original 100 FIRST FOODS™ list. You can take this workshop right now, later today when your baby naps, or tomorrow…whatever works for you!