New Guidelines Around When to Start Your Baby on Solid Food

For sometime there has been confusion around when to start your baby on solid food. Confusion was mostly around when to give the hypoallergenic foods such as cows milk, eggs, nuts and wheat. The new guidelines make it clear that these foods should definitely be given within the first year, rather than after, as previous guidelines have suggested.

There is some evidence to suggest that holding back these hypoallergenic foods can do more harm as withholding these foods may actually be responsible for driving up allergy rates.

Professor Katie Allen, paediatric gastroenterologist and allergist at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute acknowledged that it has been very confusing for parents, adding that a ‘raft of different guidelines from different specialists all around the world and here in Australia’ made it difficult for parents to know if they were doing the right thing.

The new guidelines suggest starting your baby on solids when they are ready, at around six months, but not before four months. Introduce a range of iron-rich foods, while continuing breastfeeding is part of the recommendation.

Professor Allen dismissed claims that hydrolysed infant formula reduces the risk of allergic reaction because some of the proteins are broken down. She said there was no evidence that this is the case, and was also confident that introducing solids at this time of a baby’s life would not adversely affect breast feeding.

It is thought that around 90 percent of new parents are already following these guidelines, with 10 per cent introducing solid food before or after this time.

The new guidelines aimed to give parents more up-to-date and  consistent advice on how and when to introduce solid food. They were also aimed at trying to reduce the rate of allergic reactions and prevent long-term food allergies.

Babies that were part of families who had allergies or eczema should talk to their doctors about precautions when trying these types of foods, but should not avoid them, as previously advised.

If you have questions or concerns over introducing solids to you baby’s diet, your Maternal and Child Health Nurse will have the most up-to-date information and the latest guidelines, and will be able to provide advice and guide you through the process.


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