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Food introduction guidelines for babies challenged

Most new parents would likely agree that starting their babies on solid foods is an important and exciting milestone. Mainly because of allergy concerns, though, the currently recommended guidelines for introducing new foods can make the process long and complicated.

But those guidelines may be unnecessary or even counterproductive, according to a recent nationwide survey of pediatricians published in JAMA Network Open.

Current guidelines for introducing babies to new foods may be outdated, according to a new survey of pediatricians. (Source: Adobe Stock)

Longstanding recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) call for introducing infants to one single-ingredient food at a time, then waiting three to five days to observe their children for potential allergic reactions before trying another. However, nearly two-thirds of the pediatricians surveyed recommended waiting less than three days between foods, and only half felt that waiting several days was helpful.

Many of the doctors surveyed also said that, because food allergies become apparent within minutes to a few hours after they are eaten, the existing guidelines no longer align with current knowledge about allergy prevention. The long waiting periods between foods may even be harmful, many said, especially when it comes to preventing peanut allergies.

“There is now evidence that food diversity helps to decrease the development of allergic diseases in infants, and early peanut introduction is an important peanut allergy prevention strategy,” said Dr. Waheeda Samady, the study’s lead author. She noted that the current guidelines on new food introduction may need to be reevaluated in light of these changing practices.

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