When it comes to nutrition for growing bodies, it’s hard to beat an egg. At just 70 calories each, they contain six grams of high-quality protein and ample amounts of vitamins B12, B5, B2, and A, as well as selenium and iron. There’s one big downside for little kids though: Eggs are a common allergen and thus shouldn’t be the first solid food your child tries. So when can babies eat eggs?
According to experts, 6 months is a good mile-marker for egg introduction. By this age, your baby is better able to tolerate more complex proteins. About 2% of babies have egg allergies, and those who are allergic to other common allergens are more likely to also be allergic to eggs. But don’t wait too much longer. “Some data has shown that babies introduced to eggs after their first birthday are more likely to develop symptoms of allergies than babies introduced between 4-6 months of age,” says Daniel Boyer, M.D., a pediatrician at the Farr Institute in Iowa.
Avoidance of common allergy-producing foods increases the likelihood that your children will develop of allergy, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Not to mention that it’s worth adding eggs in because they also pack a nutrient-dense punch. “Eggs are rich in a variety of nutrients and packed with vitamins, minerals, and all the essential amino acids that contribute to babies’ good health,” Boyer says. “In addition, they are high in protein and also contain choline, which plays an important role in babies’ memory development.”
It’s best to introduce eggs at home where it’s easier to monitor for a reaction. Avoid first trying eggs at a restaurant where they could be mixed with other ingredients or at daycare when you’re not around to watch. Common allergic reactions to eggs include vomiting, upset stomach, diarrhea, wheezing, coughing, difficulty breathing, hives, swelling, and dizziness. Anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition that impairs breathing, is rare with egg allergies. But if your baby is having trouble breathing, call 911 immediately. If your child experiences some of the other less serious reactions, contact an allergist who can do a skin prick allergy test to confirm whether your child is allergic to eggs.
Even if your baby does have an egg allergy, it’s likely not forever. Most children outgrow them before the age of 16. But in most cases, eggs are healthy (and tasty!) for little kids. So once your baby reaches that 6-month mark, serve up a scramble, and your baby will likely be glad you did.
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