I am sure you must have been lost as well while deciding to give your baby eggs or not? When I first started solids for my baby, I was much hesitant because of the allergy. I have been allergic to eggs for some time during childhood, so I thought she might have it too. But I had to be sure first if it`s even safe for babies to have it or not. So, I did some digging, asked my pediatrician, and found my answers. I hope today’s read will help to answer all your questions on when to and how to start feeding eggs to your baby? Also, if your baby could be at the risk of egg allergy or not?
Eggs are among the top allergenic foods for babies, but as per new researches, this view has been changing widely among pediatricians. Several pieces of research have shown that the white of an egg can be allergenic but not the yolk. Also, parents who avoided feeding their baby eggs were not able to prevent any atopic (i.e. eczema) disease later in life. Several pediatricians now recommend giving your baby allergenic foods from an early age, to avoid having allergies in the future. The pediatric community suggests feeding yolks to your 8 months old baby and many have been stressing over feeding whole eggs, for they make great first food for your baby due to nutritional benefits. According to oxford research, the yolk does not contain any kind of proteins responsible for allergy but egg white, on the other hand, consists of 4 proteins (ovomucoid, ovalbumin, ovotransferrin, and lysozyme) that can either cause mild or severe allergy depending upon the amount of intake and the consistency of a cooked egg. The major allergen among them all is ovalbumin, which makes up 50% of the egg white. An Australian study conducted in 2010 found, that babies given eggs at 12 months of age are 5 times more likely to develop allergies than the ones who are fed eggs at 4 or 6 months. The infants having egg allergy outgrew their allergy by the age of 5 years. This means that eggs are very safe for your baby and will prevent your baby from suffering egg allergy later in life. Babies who are fed allergenic foods at 6 months develop immunity for these proteins.
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What causes egg allergy?
Eggs are the cheapest and healthiest source of protein for your baby, but some proteins in the egg white are responsible for causing egg allergy. In an egg allergy, the body mistakes a protein in the egg as a harmful invader and starts releasing antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE).
This IgE in turn makes the body release another chemical named histamines. The body reacts with these histamines and creates allergic symptoms like runny nose, itching in the eyes or body, skin rash, and in extreme cases, anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction that makes the body go into shock).
It is really hard to diagnose egg allergy in an infant, which is why always stick to the 4-day rule when introducing new foods to your baby’s diet. Follow an allergy elimination diet to find out if your baby is allergic to eggs or other food.
When to feed your baby egg yolks?
Egg yolks are harmless 90% of the time and developing allergy from proteins in the yolk is rare. If egg allergy is common in your family then it would be best to wait for 12 months before feeding any egg.
Though doctors are changing their stance on egg allergies and recommend feeding them at the age of 6 months, be careful if your family has a history of egg allergy There are several ways of cooking egg yolks without the white, but sometimes the protein from the white might still be on the yolk itself.
How can eggs be beneficial for your baby?
A whole egg contains 70 calories and almost 6 grams of proteins. Especially the yolk offers some exclusive health benefits, for it contains 250 milligrams of choline, which promotes normal cell activity.
Choline is also beneficial for liver functioning and nutrient transportation within the body. Choline will also help your baby’s memory in the long run.
A whole egg contains numerous nutrients like riboflavin, B12, and folate and boasts the amount of phosphorous and selenium for healthy growth.
How to spot an allergic reaction in your baby?
Allergenic foods cause allergy because the body believes that they are a threat to the human body. A baby’s immune system is not fully developed, which is why they are sometimes unable to handle certain proteins in egg white.
An allergic reaction can affect the skin, digestive, respiratory or cardiovascular systems. You might notice the following symptoms during an allergic reaction:
- Hives, flushing, swelling, or eczema
- Vomiting, pain, diarrhea, or nausea
- Itching around the mouth
- Wheezing, trouble breathing, or runny nose
- Increased heartbeat, low blood pressure, and other heart issues
The symptoms may vary from mild to extreme depending upon the immunity system of your child or the number of eggs fed.
How to introduce eggs into your baby’s diet
If your baby is around 7 months then he will need two servings of 1-2 tablespoons of protein each day. Though most pediatricians recommend giving eggs around 6 months of age, you should still ask your pediatrician for the recommended timeline for your baby.
Always add new food at a slower pace, wait for 4 days for any kind of reaction to the food. This 4-day gap will help you identify the real food causing the allergy. In case you find your baby showing an allergic reaction, talk to your doctor immediately.
The best way to introduce eggs is by feeding your baby yolks alone. Here are few ideas to incorporate yolks into your baby’s meal:
- Boil an egg hard, peel the shell off, and separate the yolk from the egg white. Now mash the yolk with the breast milk or formula, and feed your baby. You can also add the mashed yolk to banana, avocado, sweet potato, and other pureed fruits and vegetables.
- Separate the yolk when the egg is raw. Heat the pan with butter and scramble the yolk with breast milk or formula. You can also add any pureed vegetable that your baby is used to eating.
- Separate the raw yolk and combine it with a half cup of cooked oatmeal and fruits or veggies. Scramble until cooked and then cut it into small pieces easy to swallow.
Once your baby is a year old or your doctor tells you to give whole eggs, you can scramble the whole egg using breast milk or whole milk. You can also feed your baby pancakes, waffles, and other baked goods containing whole eggs.
What foods to avoid if your baby is allergic to eggs?
If your little one is allergic to eggs than avoid feeding foods that contain:
- Egg (yolk and white)
- Egg substitutes
Some baked goods have a shiny glaze on the top which is an egg yolk, take the top layer off before letting your child eat.
Do vaccines contain egg proteins?
Nowadays, most of the vaccines are being suspended in egg white proteins for preservation. Babies or children who are not allergic to eggs can take them without any hesitation.
The MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccines do not contain large amounts of egg white proteins and will not be a threat to your allergic baby. Most of the MMR vaccines are now being manufactured without any egg protein.
Yellow fever vaccine and the Flu shot, however, do have egg protein and should be avoided by people or babies allergic to eggs.
Many doctors recommend feeding babies eggs at an early age. Most of the babies that are given allergenic foods at an early age have a lower risk of developing allergies later in life.
If your family has a history of egg allergy or your baby suffers from severe eczema, do consult your doctor before feeding eggs, because your baby has a high chance of having the same allergy.
If your baby is allergic to eggs then make sure to read the ingredients list, before buying any goods and avoid baked foods.