Baby’s first foods: timing and reactions

Jul 31, 2017

Solid food introduction is a fun and exciting time for families, but it may also come with questions and some uncertainty. Read on to learn about how to time new food introductions, and what symptoms you should be watching for.

How often do I introduce a new food?

Each new flavour is exciting for your baby, so there’s no need to rush. Introduce only one new food at a time, and wait three to five days before moving on to the next food. Keep an eye out for possible food reactions, and remember that some symptoms may take up to 72 hours to appear. Once a food has been successfully introduced, it can stay in the food rotation while continuing with other new foods.

Some babies may need to try an unfamiliar food multiple times before they like it (research has shown that it can take up to 10 separate times!), so don’t give up if your little one does not take to new foods or flavours readily.

What symptoms should I watch for?

Introducing new foods systematically (each 3-5 days) and watching for food reactions may give you important information about how your little one is tolerating each new food. Symptoms of a food allergy may include hives or welts on the skin, swelling of the tongue or mouth, coughing or difficulty breathing, or severe vomiting or diarrhoea. If your child experiences any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

While food allergy reactions typically appear rapidly, symptoms of food sensitivity may take up to three days to appear and may include: mild eczema, diaper rash, runny nose or congestion, dark circles under the eyes, gas, constipation, diarrhoea, spit up, or unusual fatigue or excess fussiness.

A new onset symptom, or a worsening of a symptom your child already experiences, may be associated with a food trigger.

What if my baby has a food reaction?

If your baby has a severe reaction, contact your baby’s health professional. If the symptom is mild, remove the possible offending food until symptoms clear. Once symptoms have resolved, you may try the same food again. If the reaction recurs, contact your baby’s health professional, as symptoms may indicate a food allergy or sensitivity.

* Not suitable for children with cow milk protein allergy (CMPA)

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