Babies and allergies

weaning2Luckily, neither of my kids have developed any food allergies… so I’m definitely not an expert in the area. But what I find puzzling is the different approaches to ‘allergenic’ food in the different countries. It seems that every country has its own dos and don’ts for what to feed your children, similar to the rules regarding what you can eat while you’re pregnant.
Emily has already written a funny post on Italian weaning… but apart from offering jars of horse meat, the Italians have very rigid weaning rules to follow.
For example vegetables have to be introduced very slowly. At the beginning, only potatoes, carrots, courgettes and lettuce, and then gradually more veggies can be given. Tomatoes, however, have to wait until the baby is older than 12 months, and that’s pretty strange given the role it has in the Italian diet. Yet it seems other countries are not worried about them.
Same with fruit: citrus fruits and strawberries are forbidden until past their first birthday, but that’s not the rule elsewhere. But, on the other side we give grated Parmesan cheese and olive oil from day one — that I’m sure would sound weird to many mothers. And most Italian mothers are not so bothered by sweet drinks in the form of chamomile teas or fennel teas, while juice is not so common.
What are the rules in your country? Have you noticed curious differences in what other nationalities do?



Comments (6)

August 28, 2009

It really is so confusing trying to follow all the ‘rules’ of weaning, especially because every country does it differently.
In general, I follow a pretty liberal weaning schedule. But, like you, I don’t have a history of allergies, so we’re not so worried about that.
But I remember feeding my 10-month old strawberries, blueberries and kiwi and being told I wasn’t ‘supposed’ to be doing that.
Needless to say, all my kids have survived and are allergy-free!

August 29, 2009

I was eating breakfast at a restaurant with my very first 6 month old baby. She was getting fussy, and I hadn’t packed anything to amuse her in my enormous diaper bag… so I improvised and handed her a packet of honey that came with my tea. A woman sitting nearby saw this and FLEW across the restaurant to inform me about the dangers of honey for children under a year? This was probably obvious to a lot of people, but it was news to me.

It also seems that every other child I bump into lately is allergic to nuts. I now have 3 children (allergy free – I’m very blessed), and my youngest is 10 months old. I feed her almost everything… it’s just easier to give her what my older 2 children are eating. I’ve heard a wide range of beliefs on peanut butter and when it can be introduced into a babies diet (after 1, after 2, even after 3 years of age!!!). Well, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a “staple” food in our home… and I think I’m going to have to take a gamble and give my baby some good ‘ol PB&J when she’s one. Maybe I’ll ask my neighbor if I can have her son’s eppie-pen (sp?) on stand-by just in case… 😉

August 30, 2009

We don’t have allergies in our family, and neither do my kids.
But this is what I did with my children: I started weaning at 6 months (first bite vegetables, no fruit so they wouldn’t get a ‘sweet tooth’, no clue if this is true, in the Netherlands they say to start with a banana!). I didn’t feed them honey until they were one, it has to do with a certain bacteria I recall! And I was careful with nuts – not so much because I was afraid of allergies but more so because of choking.
For the rest my kids ate more or less everything after the age of 10 months. At 12 months I started giving them cows’ milk…
I’ve researched a bit and in the Netherlands they only say you can’t give them honey before they’re one – nothing else!
It’s true, so weird the fact that it’s all so different in every country!

August 31, 2009

In Norway, the \rule\ is not to give babies under 1 year honey (because of the bacteria, as Esther mentioned), cow milk or – because of the choking hazard: nuts and pieces of raw fruit. You’re supposed to start with cooked vegetables like potato and carrot, and also with (iron-enriched) porridge from about 6 months. Fruit juices without sugar is considered ok in small amounts.

On a trip to Spain with our daughter, who was then 7 months, we had trouble finding the right food for her – as the baby porridge we could find in this little Spanish town was sweetened with honey (which is probably perfectly ok since it’s not \fresh\ honey, but as a first-time mother….you know…)

September 5, 2009

The \rules\ I followed in the western United States sound very similar to what you posted about Italy. No honey until 1 due to botulism. No citrus, strawberries, tomatoes until after 1 due to them being more acidic than an infant’s system can handle. No cow milk until 1 because it doesn’t contain the right nutrients for brain development compared to breastmilk or formula. We started with things like banana, avocado, rice, oat or millet cereal, peas, carrots, beans, etc. We introduced meats around 10 months.

January 5, 2010

hi! i come from greece. In my country each doctor has different opinion.. about \ when to introduce what\. They all agree on honey. But apart from that I heard so many different things
I heard fruits from 3.5 months old some other said fruits from 5.5. First introduce fruits then vegetables.. but I also heard first meat and then vegetables. and goes on… some say cow milk after 1 year others say after 2 years.

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