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Should parents be feeding their babies potentially allergenic foods early in hopes of preventing a food allergy later in life?
Pediatrician Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson joins The Doctors to discuss the USDA's new guidelines for food allergies and the feeding of babies. She says the new guidelines, which apply to the next 5 years, might seem confusing.
The pediatrician explains the recommendation now suggests instead of holding off on foods, "We want you to feed your baby everything." This includes peanuts, eggs, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, sesame, egg, and soy, and she says it should start when you begin feeding your baby solid foods at 4-6 months of age.
She also encourages parents to give their babies all sorts of new foods, and suggests "100 new foods in 100 days."
Dr. Swanson explains if a baby is exposed to these common allergens continually and early, their immune system will learn to deal with them. "Repeated exposure is important," she tells The Doctors. She also notes studies have found the earlier you introduce babies to common allergens like peanuts the less likely they are to develop a nut allergy. She says parents should worry more about delaying the introduction of these foods to babies and worry less about early exposure.
To prevent allergies from developing, she suggests parents:
- Expose kids to dirt
- Don't be afraid of pet drool
- Avoid dry skin
- Make sure babies get adequate vitamin D, which is 400 international units
- Feed kids foods that have diet diversity