Babies and Food: The American Academy of Pediatrics Changes Its Mind

AAP LogoThere have been a handful of comments throughout this blog and on various message boards asking about babies in relation to food.

“Is it okay to give them eggs?”

“When can we give them meat?”

“What should we start with?”

“Are you sure you should be feeding them ______ (insert food here)?”

As parents, we always want to be sure we are doing what is absolutely best for our children but sometimes what is best is often clouded by what is traditional.  Traditional recommendations for babies involve rice cereal, pureed foods, stage 1, stage 2, part a, part b foods.  No seasonings.  Bland foods.

“Safe” foods.

In 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Nutrition, chaired by Dr. Frank Greer, MD, published an article entitled, Effects of Early Nutritional Interventions on the Development of Atopic Disease in Infants and Children: The Role of Maternal Dietary Restriction, Breastfeeding, Timing of Introduction of Complementary Foods, and Hydrolyzed Formulas.

You can read the article in its entirety here: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/121/1/183

To sum, they were investigating allergy triggers in infants, the role of dietary restrictions and if they were even necessary and how breastfeeding/formula feeding fit into the whole circus.

Dr. Greer, in an interview just four months later, summed up their findings quite nicely when he said:

For instance, if you’re going to have a peanut allergy, it has nothing to do with when you were introduced to peanuts. If a mother eats peanuts during pregnancy or lactation or if she feeds her 6-month-old peanut butter, it has no effect on whether you get peanut allergy. If you’re going to get it, you’re going to get it. There’s even evidence from one study that if you don’t introduce egg into the infant’s diet until after 6 months, the baby is more likely to develop an egg allergy.

He also went on to say:

Now we can tell mothers: If you have exclusively breastfed for 4 months and your child is not at risk for allergy, you can introduce any food at 6 or 8 months or whatever.

The very next year, in 2009, the same committee published Rice Cereal Can Wait, Let Them Eat Meat First: AAP committee has changes in mind, which recommends foods rich in iron and nutrient dense foods like meat as first foods.

So.

This was all published in public journals three years ago.  Why are pediatricians and health professionals still recommending the same rice cereal and other bland, step by step feeding routines?

That’s a good question. I can tell you that of all the statements the Committee on Nutrition has published in the past 8 years, none have gotten as much interest from the press and from allergy groups as this one. We’ve also sent out announcements in the American Academy of Pediatrics newsletter. The message is getting out there. I’m not sure the pediatricians are picking up on it.  - Dr. Greer from the 2008 interview

Rice cereal has been the first complementary food given to infants in the United States for many reasons, including cultural tradition. – 2009

The vast majority of what is recommended and practiced is due to tradition.  The fact is, however, times have changed.  More research is out there and it is up to us, as parents, to know this and to make sure our health care professionals know it as well.

To sum up.

If your child has been breastfed or formula-fed exclusively for at least 4 months, at the age of 6 months, you may feed them anything you want to provided there is no family history of allergy.

So much easier to remember than what stage or what list of what foods you can give when, right?

Tristina (9 Posts)

Tristina is a first-time mama to Olivia, affectionately nicknamed "babymeat" by her online twitter mamas. Born in May 2010, Olivia has been exclusively breastfed and started solids around 7.5 months. She's tried (and loved) just about every food you can think of, but baked fruit and curry are her favorites! Tristina and her husband practice a gluten-free lifestyle and love shopping at the farmer's market for high quality, fresh ingredients to cook into amazing meals.


16 Responses to Babies and Food: The American Academy of Pediatrics Changes Its Mind
  1. Guest
    March 17, 2011 | 4:58 pm

    Thank you for posting this! I am just learning about BLW, and it seems to natural and “right”. I really appreciate seeing this information to back up my instincts!
    I’m LOVING this blog, by the way!

  2. DeborahRuth
    March 17, 2011 | 7:51 pm

    Great post. Glad we have some good evidence to back things up. I am sure Pri would have died by now if she was allergic to peanuts because I consume large amounts of it all the time.

    • Emily @ Joyful Abode
      March 17, 2011 | 9:55 pm

      i just giggled at your peanut thing.

      • DeborahRuth
        March 18, 2011 | 9:34 pm

        haha I really meant to put I consume large amounts of peanut butter hahah

  3. Emily @ Joyful Abode
    March 17, 2011 | 9:55 pm

    FANtastic post Tristina!! I’m going to tweet and share on facebook… I know lots of mamas who would feel so much more comfortable if they read this.

  4. Steph
    March 18, 2011 | 1:20 pm

    I think it’s awesome this blog exists. I did BLW with both my kids (now 4 and 2.5) and it was so hard to find info, especially since both were on bottles/formula. It’s great to see more people taking this approach, and good to see that the AAP is catching up!

  5. MummyinProvence
    March 18, 2011 | 5:59 pm

    Great post!

  6. Kara
    March 20, 2011 | 3:07 am

    I have been loving this blog! We’ll be ready to start solids very soon and I am going to try BLW…but I’m wondering (and hoping some of you mommas can help me here!), since I have a formula fed baby do you think I should follow that 4-day allergy rule? (4 days of each food to ensure no allergies before trying something new). Or can I just let her try different things we’re eating. She only had 7 weeks of exclusive breastfeeding and I noticed this article says 4 months is ideal. What do you think?
    Thanks!! :)

    • Tristina
      March 20, 2011 | 3:30 am

      If you don’t have a history of allergies, I say go for it. I don’t have experience with formula personally but most formulas nowadays mimick breastmilk extremely well so I think you’re good. Have fun with it and let us know how it goes! :)

      • Kara
        March 24, 2011 | 11:08 am

        I started! I have given her egg yolk on a spoon like Annaleise had (success!), banana (messy but yummy), and apples (still a little hard for her to hold, slippery). But we’re having lots of fun with it! I’m going to see if there’s a specific place to post more questions here, but now I’m wondering…should I be trying to feed her always around the same time every day? Or just whenever it happens to work out?

        • Tristina
          March 24, 2011 | 11:11 am

          We started with just breakfast. She ate with me in the morning while I had coffee. Then after a few weeks or so, we added lunch. Then dinner. But if she ever showed interest in what I was eating at any time I gave her some. Do whatever works best for you guys! And, yay on the start!!

  7. Joni
    March 21, 2011 | 9:35 pm

    This is GREAT. AWESOME. What other good things can I say about it? I love to dispel myths. :)

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    March 22, 2011 | 9:17 am

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  9. Amber
    March 23, 2011 | 12:03 pm

    This is such a great post. I keep coming back to re read it and make sure I didnt miss anything!

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