the introduction of egg

It is a time old debate regarding when the right time is to introduce foods to your baby, as well as which food to introduce when.  When it comes to eggs – can you give eggs at 6 months or must you until your baby is older? Do you give the egg white or the egg yolk? Will giving eggs cause an allergy if given too early?  My family has a history of allergies so must I avoid giving eggs to my baby? These are all important questions which receive a great deal of conflicting answers and debates, just as the thousands year old question of “did the chicken come before the egg or the egg before the chicken?”  Let’s dispel the myths and provide an update on recent recommendations.

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Eggs are included in the list of potentially allergic foods, which also include milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat.  Eggs are included as the protein contained in the egg white has the potential to cause an allergic reaction as babies may have a sensitivity towards this.  Due to this, older infant feeding guidelines recommended delaying the introduction of these potentially allergic foods, as it was believed that introducing these foods too early could increase the likelihood of an allergy developing.  Older recommendations also included feeding babies only the egg yolks and avoiding the potentially allergic egg whites.

Nutrition is always evolving and with new research and as we learn more, previous guidelines are amended and newer update recommendations are provided (hence why there is often confusion).  Delaying the introduction of eggs has now shown to not offer any protective effect against an allergy and could possibly even increase the risk of an egg allergy developing.   The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy recommends: “Solid foods should not be introduced before 4 months of age. When your infant is ready, from 4-6 months of age, introduce foods according to what the family usually eats, regardless of whether the food is considered to be a common food allergen. Raw egg is not recommended”.  The American Academy of Paediatrics advise that there is no current convincing evidence that delaying food introduction beyond 6 months has a significant protective effect on the development of allergies. This includes delaying the introduction of foods that are considered to be highly allergic, such as eggs.

So instead of saying in a nut shell or as we discussing eggs, in an egg shell: there is no need to delay the introduction of eggs provided your baby is 6 months old, has followed the recommended process of food introduction, and does not have any other food allergies. As eggs are a potentially allergic foods, it is always recommended to introduce a new protein every 3-4 days so that if an allergy does occur, you are able to clearly identify which food potentially caused the reaction (verse introducing 2 proteins at the same time and then being unable to identify which one caused the reaction).

Remember that breast milk provides your baby sole source of nutrition for the first 6 months and meets all your baby’s nutritional requirements.  After 6 months however, the composition of breastmilk can no longer meet all the nutritional requirements of a growing baby and therefore the importance of food introduction comes into play.  Some important nutrients required by the diet after 6 months of age are proteins, fats and iron.  The sunny side of eggs (excuse the pun) are that eggs are filled with all these important nutrients, making them a perfect food for your baby.  The cholesterol in eggs are often a concern for parents but fats are very important in a baby’s diet and play a vital role in brain development.  Eggs are also a source of choline, which also plays an important role in brain development.

Remember when introducing eggs to your baby that they must always be well cooked and provided in a way that is safe and easy to eat.  There soft consistency make them a great weaning food.

Here are some great egg recipes:

Scrambled Eggs

A great choice for first introduction!

1 free-range egg

1 tbsp breastmilk or formula milk

1 tbsp olive oil

1. Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan

2. Whisk together the egg and the milk

3. Pour the mixture into the pan and cook for several minutes, stirring continuously and until the egg is cooked through. You can blend for a smoother consistency if required.

scrambled egg

Scrambled Eggs with Veggies

1 free-range egg

1 tbsp breast milk or formula milk

1 TBSP pureed or mashed veggies (cooked) – you can use any pureed vegetables

1 tbsp olive oil

1. Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan

2. Whisk together the egg and the milk

3. Pour the mixture into the pan and cook for several minutes, stirring continuously and until the egg is cooked through. You can blend for a smoother consistency if required.

4. Add the pureed or mashed veggies and mix together until warm

5. Serve

Egg with Avocado

This a great combination of protein, iron and those all-important fats.

1 boiled free-range egg

½ ripe avocado

Blend or mash together and serve

Optional: add 1 TBSP of full cream plain yoghurt if your baby has been progressed onto yoghurt

Always amend the consistency to best suit your baby’s age and stage of food introduction.

Disclaimer – Allergies:

The above are general recommendations and do not serve to replace individual medical advice especially in reference to food allergies.  If your baby has had a previous allergic reaction, or if there is a strong family history of allergies, it is recommended to discuss with your paediatrician or paediatric dietician prior to introducing solids.