When and How to Introduce Eggs and How to Spot an Allergy
When asked “When can babies have eggs?” experts have historically advised parents to wait until their child turns 2 years old. Newer studies, however, have found that there is no medical evidence for delaying the introduction of eggs. There’s even some research indicating that delaying the introduction of potentially allergenic foods (eggs, milk, peanut butter, tree nuts, fish) beyond 6 months of age may actually increase the potential of developing an allergy later in childhood.
Still, If you are concerned about an allergy, you can introduce just egg yolks (and not egg whites) whenever your child starts to show an interest in solid foods. The yolk of an egg does not contain the proteins that cause an allergy to eggs and they’re quite nutritious, too.
While you can separate the yolk from the white before cooking, this can sometimes leave bits of egg white behind. Even a little bit of the protein can cause a reaction. The best way to separate the egg is to cook it first by hard boiling. Then you can carefully peel off the egg white (use it in your own tuna salad or other salad) and mash the yolk with a fork. To get a smoother consistency, add breast milk, formula or water a little at a time while you mash.
Eggs can be a healthy addition to your baby’s diet. A study in theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that egg yolks can increase iron levels in babies 6 to 12 months of age and that eggs fortified with omega-3 fatty acids also help increase DHA levels in the same age range.
Both of these findings are a bonus for babies who are starting to lose their own iron stores. or who might have to be weaned from breast milk at this age.
Signs of an Egg Allergy
The first time you introduce eggs, be sure to watch for the followingsigns of an allergic reaction, which will occur within a short period of time after eating (or even touching) eggs:
- Skin reactions, such as swelling, a rash, hives or eczema
- Wheezing or difficulty breathing
- Runny nose and sneezing
- Red or watery eyes
- Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- Anaphylaxis (less common)
Vaccinations and Eggs
Some shots contain egg and can cause an allergic reaction. For example, the MMR vaccine contains egg and is given around 12 to 15 months. Another shot that contains egg is the flu shot. So, again, be sure and watch for a reaction and talk to your doctor if you have a family history of allergies and are concerned about these shots.