Month 5 Worry: How & When to Start Solid Feedings

The most common medical concern for parents of babies this age. Every parent has a number of magical parenting moments pre-programmed in his or her brain even before the baby is born. Watching your baby’s first moves, having your first phone conversation, letting go of the two-wheel bicycle for the first time as your child rides away—all are common, wonderful parenting expectations. The first feeding is one of those seminal events most of us are counting on. Is the timing of that first feed important?

What’s the Issue?

Most pediatricians think the answer is yes. Many babies have the oromotor (chewing and swallowing) skills to handle solid foods at three to four months of age, but development has little to do with the timing of solid food introduction these days.

What we know is that the introduction of simple solids at about six months of age reduces your baby’s risk of developing food allergies later on in childhood. Too early raises the risk, too late and your child’s risk is raised as well.

Consider the Numbers

  • In 2007, the incidence of peanut allergy is about one out of every 100 school-aged children (about two million kids in the United States). This incidence has about doubled in the past decade. Why? There are brilliant physicians and scientists who have devoted their lives to studying this issue and even they don’t understand why children have peanut allergies.
  • The eight most common allergens which make up 90 percent of all childhood food allergies are: milk, egg, peanut, tree nut, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. Since babies don’t eat much in the way of solids, we see milk and soy allergy as the big problem in young infants.
  • Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis (a severe, potentially fatal allergic reaction) can occur anywhere from within minutes of exposure to a food to two hours after exposure.
  • Approximately five percent of the pediatric population under age three has a diagnosed food allergy.

What Parents Can Do

When starting Baby on solid foods, most doctors recommend beginning at six months with cereals first, followed by fruits and veggies. Add new foods in one at a time, a new food every five days or so. By adding foods individually, you will know what the culprit is if an infant food reaction should occur. Signs to look for would be rash, vomiting, difficulty breathing, or blood in the stool.

What the Docs May Do

The diagnosis of food allergy is usually clinical, made by a practitioner who takes a careful history of your family’s allergies and your child’s specific reaction, and performs a complete physical exam. In infants, the treatment is usually food avoidance for an extended period of time. In some instances, bloodwork or skin testing may be recommended. Talk to your pediatrician if you think your child may be showing signs of food allergy.

More 5th Month Health Help

Even the most confident parent has concerns about her child’s health and wellness from time to time. Learn more about which medical issues are most common at each baby age, here. (If you have any pressing concerns or questions about your baby’s health, please check with her healthcare provider.)

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