“Yo! Everyone! Listen up! When can my baby eat eggs?! Help a momma out!”. This has become one of the top five “first foods” questions posed by mothers with infants under 12 months of age.
If you know another parent whose child has had an allergic reaction to eggs, you’re probably extremely nervous to start introducing them to your child. We understand that you need all of the facts to ease your mind before making this decision.
So here it is, all laid out for you: the pros, the cons, the right and the wrong way to introduce eggs to your child. But first, let’s cover the “when.”
When Can Babies Eat Eggs?
While the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) doesn’t specify a minimum age, experts recommend that you can begin feeding your baby eggs as soon as they’re 6 months of age.
Back in 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published all of the reasons to wait until your child is two years old to introduce them to eggs.
Soon after, a counter-study was published that suggested introducing allergenic foods earlier on as a way to surpass food allergies altogether, and that has been the most popular practice since.
Nearly 2% of infants are allergic to eggs, but of that 2%, 70% of them outgrow the allergy later on in their life.
If not dealt with properly, these allergies can prove to be fatal to your child.
If your family has a history of allergies, it’s safe to say that your child will fall into that 2%, so don’t introduce eggs to them until you’ve spoken with their doctor first.
If your child doesn’t have a predisposition, the consensus is to start them on eggs as early as 6 months, but others recommend that you should wait until your child turns a year old for maximum safety.
Let’s weight it out…
Why Start At 6 Months?
Around this time, breast milk stops sustaining your baby on its own, so new foods have to be introduced to them to ensure proper development.
This is the age to start trying mushy foods to compliment the breast milk being given them, so why not eggs?
Since breast milk doesn’t pump out the all the protein needed for your child’s developing body on its own anyway, you’ll find yourself needing to introduce more and more whole foods in your baby’s diet to complement breast milk.
Why Start At 12 Months?
Some parents prefer to wait until their children are able to sit up by themselves and hold up their own heads before starting them on eggs, which is from 12 months of age and onward.
Why? Well, it’s only a preference.
Some like to introduce other foods first and hold off on the dairy products.
Most of those other foods require the child to be able to practice “hand to mouth” which doesn’t happen until around 10 months. So dairy is put off.
The Benefits Of Eating Eggs
Eggs are packed full of needed nutrients for your child’s developing brain and body. These nutrients include:
- Important for growing your child’s heart and lungs
- Gives them the energy they need to learn and play
- Dietary proteins become amino acids that grow your child’s bones, muscles, skin, hair and organs
2) Lutein And Zeaxanthin
- Important for your child’s eye health
- Filters out harmful wavelengths to protect the cells in the eyes
- Considered the “memory vitamin”
- Key to your child’s brain development
- Helps to maintain healthy liver function
- Keeps the metabolism where it should be
- Important for eye function
- Affects the neurotransmitters that determine your child’s psychological and behavioral conditions
5) Vitamin D
- Needed to absorb calcium for strong bones
6) Amino acids
- The building blocks of our biological processes
- Transport and store nutrients
- Heal wounds and repair tissue
- For brain development
- For carrying oxygen to the muscles and organs in the body
- Fat made by the body to form cell membranes and hormones
- Aids in the development of your baby’s brain
How To Prepare Eggs Safely For Your Child
1) Cook Thoroughly
Cook your child’s eggs thoroughly to protect them from salmonella, to the point that the egg becomes firm enough. Never take the risk and feed them raw eggs in any way, shape or form.
(Speaking about raw eggs, you should also never give your baby any edible product whatsoever that contains raw eggs, regardless of whether it’s a commercial product or you do it yourself at home).
Hard-boil an egg for 6-8 minutes when first introducing them to your child.
Pop the egg’s yolk out and smash it up.
You can mix in some of baby’s milk to mush it down if your baby just started on solids.
2) Keep It To Just The Eggs
Avoid adding other ingredients to the egg you want your baby to eat, ingredients such as salt, spices, butter, and so on.
While these ingredients often do make things tastier for your baby, they could also cause a whole lot of trouble as well – so you’re better off avoiding using them.
Besides, now is the time to let your baby experience the natural taste of an egg as it is!
3) Introducing The Egg Yolk First
In the past, it was often believed that there’s a smaller chance of egg yolks producing an allergic reaction than egg whites, so the recommendation was to introduce the egg yolk first.
The reasoning was that if your child does fine on egg yolk, it’s more likely to be safe for you to introduce egg whites afterwards.
Nowadays, however, pediatricians agree that this is no longer valid – so you can introduce both whites and yolks at the same time.
Many parents fear offering their children whole eggs because of fear that the yolk might give them high cholesterol levels, but that’s not true.
As long as you aren’t going overboard and feeding your little one an ginormous amount of whole eggs on a regular basis, you most likely have nothing to worry about.
How much is alright, you ask? Well, experts believe that half a large cooked egg 2 times a week is fine when baby is 6 months of age, and half a large cooked egg 3 times a week is fine when baby is 12 months of age.
Yes, the egg white has most of the protein you want to give your little one for proper development and growth, but the egg yolk also has valuable protein, not to mention valuable vitamins and minerals as well.
4) Wait 4 Days Before Introducing Other New Foods
If you introduce more than one new food to your baby at once and they experience an allergic reaction, you won’t know for sure which food produced the symptoms.
So, one new food at a time.
5) How To Know If Your Child Has An Egg Sensitivity Or Allergy
Though eggs are packed fill of the good stuff to help your child grow, they also rank in the top 6 most common allergenic foods for babies.
If you’ve introduced them to your child for the first time and noticed unusual symptoms at the same time, your child has a food sensitivity.
- Itchy or runny nose
- Sore throat
- Watery, red eyes
- Rashes or hives
- Swelling anywhere on the body
Don’t give your child eggs again until they get checked on by their doctor.
Something to note: a food sensitivity isn’t the same thing as a food allergy. If your child has an allergic reaction to eggs, that’s much more serious. You would notice these signs, often within only a few minutes of them eating eggs:
- Rapid pulse
- Trouble breathing/wheezing
- Sweaty “damp-like” body
- Skin rashes or hives
- Vomiting and stomach cramps
- Dermatitis of the skin
6) Be Careful About Portion Size
It goes without saying that you should pay attention to the portion size of eggs you give your baby depending on how old they are and how much they’re able to handle at once.
If they’re still very young and are just being newly introduced to solids, then you’ll want to offer them eggs in small portions, ones that are either pureed or scrambled so they don’t have a terribly hard time.
The older they get, the more able they’ll be to handle larger pieces at once, but always make sure the pieces are not large enough to put your baby at risk of choking.
Is It An Allergic Reaction Or Anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is the worst kind of allergic reaction a person can have. Every part of the body is affected in a different way.
The skin will look flushed, develop hives, and eventually grow angioedemic (which is swelling under the skin.)
The eyes will show irritation, then redness, then a production of tears, then swelling under the eyes.
Upper respiratory problems include a runny nose, congestion, swelling in the throat and then choking.
Oral problems include a swollen tongue, lips and throat.
Lower respiratory problems will be: difficulty breathing, wheezing, then a tightening in the chest.
Circulatory problems include: a low heart rate, low blood pressure, dizziness and eventually black out.
The nervous system will show anxiety, confusion, and then slurred speech.
The digestive system will produce nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and pain in the abdomen.
Something to note: if it ends up being anaphylaxis shock, your child will become weak, turn pale and lose consciousness.
If you see any of these signs, whether it be an allergic reaction or anaphylaxis shock, a trip to the emergency room is necessary.
How To Keep Your Baby Safe If They Have An Egg Allergy
If you discover that your child has an egg sensitivity or allergy, there are a few things you have to remember.
1) Don’t Mix Utensils
The obvious thing to do when your child develops a food allergy is to stop buying anything with that food item in it, but with other family members to cook for, you might still have to.
One way to ensure your child’s protection is to have utensils you use only when you cook their food, so that no egg residue can cross-contaminate.
2) Know Which Vaccines Carry Eggs
You might be hearing from your other mom friends that it isn’t safe to vaccinate your child with an egg allergy, but rest assured, all childhood vaccines (not including the flu shot and yellow fever vaccine) are grown in chick-embryo cell cultures that have been extensively purified.
Wrapping It Up
Good luck, mom.
Hopefully you’re now brave enough to introduce eggs to your child around their 6th month. All should go well.
Once this test has been passed, it should be smooth sailing, at least until it’s time for peanuts!