Eggs are an exceptionally healthy food, as they're chock full of vitamins, fatty acids, and proteins. So it's no wonder that eggs are also appealing to parents who want to expand their baby's growing palate. However, there are a few important things you should know about eggs before introducing them into your baby's diet for the first time.
Why Are Eggs Considered Allergenic?
Allergies often occur when the body mistakes a particular food protein as a potentially harmful invader. This causes the body to release antibodies as a defense mechanism, which in turn causes the body to release histamines. Histamines make up the body's inflammatory immune reaction, which explains why a person with allergies might develop skin rashes, puffy eyes, and congested sinuses, just to name a few symptoms.
The egg white is often considered the most potentially allergic part of the egg, and for good reason. The egg white contains ovomucoid, ovalbumin, ovotransferrin, and lysozyme -- proteins that are also potential allergens. Over half of the typical hen's egg's protein makeup consists of ovalbumin, according to experts. These allergens can provoke a broad range of symptoms in infants before propensity towards food allergies.
The egg yolk, on the other hand, consists of proteins (apovitellenins I, apovitellenins VI and phosvitin) that rarely produce an allergic reaction in humans. As a result, the egg yolk is commonly considered the safest part of the egg for babies until they're older.
Should It Be Done Before or After Age 1?
In earlier years, most medical experts recommended holding off on introducing eggs to a child's diet until they were much older. Today, that opinion has changed drastically thanks to recent research. Many pediatricians are now recommending egg yolks as a first food for babies under age 1, just as long as the egg itself is prepared in a way that separates the yolk from the egg white.
If your family doesn't have a history of food allergies involving eggs, then there's a good chance your baby may not have such allergies, either. However, it's always best to be careful when introducing your child to new foods and consult with your pediatrician if you're unsure about a particular food.
Whenever you're introducing your child to explore the first time, it's a good idea to observe a 4-day waiting period in between giving your baby new foods. During this time, you'll want to be on the lookout for any digestive issues or allergic reactions that could develop after eating a new food for the first time. You should also consider introducing eggs and other new foods in the morning or early afternoon, as this schedule is usually the least disruptive for your baby if symptoms develop.
Are Baked Goods with Whole Eggs Okay?
You're probably wondering if it's okay for your baby to eat baked goods containing whole eggs. The answer depends on your pediatrician's recommendations. Many pediatricians have no problem with letting infants over 8 months in age have baked goods made from whole egg, just as long as they don't show a propensity towards food allergies or have a history of food allergies.
The amount of eggs used in a baked good should also be a factor to consider. Certain foods that are heavy in whole egg usage, such as angel food cake, should be avoided. If you're concerned about the potential for food allergies involving whole eggs, you should consider substituting egg for another ingredient when making or buying baked goods for your baby.
This information can help you safely and confidently give your baby a new food to add to their ever-expanding palate. To get more information, contact a pediatrician.