When Can Babies Eat Eggs?
One of the many pleasures of being a family is sharing the same food at the table. Eggs are among the most anticipated of those shared foods. After all, we parents can’t survive on Cheerios or pureed carrots alone. But eggs? They count as real sustenance. It’s no wonder, then, that moms are eager to know: At what age can baby eat eggs?
The short answer is about 6 months, as California-based pediatrician Tanya Altmann, MD, suggests in her book What to Feed Your Baby. It’s a reasonable recommendation, since, at that point, babies are trying new foods to complement their breast milk. But the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) doesn’t actually have an official age recommendation.
Back in 2000, the AAP advised that parents withhold eggs from babies until the age of 2. But in 2008—because of studies suggesting that allergenic foods introduced earlier in life may help prevent food allergies—the organization dropped that previous directive, and many doctors now recommend that parents feed their babies eggs earlier. However, with the lack of egg-feeding guidelines for specific age groups, there’s a bit of confusion, and parents are often nervous about feeding baby eggs.
It’s easy to see why parents worry about feeding baby eggs. About 2 percent of infants can be allergic to eggs. And, while about 70 percent can outgrow that allergy by the time they reach age 16, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, this allergy can be quite serious. As Dana Metz, a mother of two girls, recalls, when she gave her younger daughter a serving at 10 months old, her daughter immediately threw up. “She’ll be 2 in September and has only had a bit of scrambled eggs here and there,” she says. “I’m getting up the courage to have her try a full helping though!”
The best way to decide whether to hold off is to take note of whether baby has other food allergies or if there’s a family history of food allergies. If this is the case, check with your pediatrician. She may send you to an allergist to consider additional testing before your child tries eggs (or other allergenic foods), says Drew Bird, MD, director of the Food Allergy Center at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, and associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
If baby has no reaction after trying a new food, feed that food each day for three days without introducing any other new foods during this time, says Keith-Thomas Ayoob, MD, associate clinical professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.
“That way, if there is an allergic reaction, you’ll be in a better position to know which food may have caused it,” he says.
If he has an egg allergy, you’ll know right away: Baby may experience hives, swelling, vomiting, coughing and wheezing within minutes of eating eggs. “Of course, if this happens, talk with your physician before giving the food again,” Bird says.
Before introducing eggs to baby, make sure she’s already sampled cereal grains (such as rice or oat) and pureed fruits and veggies.
While doctors previously recommended holding off on egg whites, they now recommend offering the entire egg. “The whole egg is fine,” Ayoob says. “Both white and yolk have great quality protein. The yolk is also a wealth of vitamins and minerals.” What’s more, it has healthy fats and cholesterol. “Don’t fear the cholesterol,” he says, “especially since babies need cholesterol for brain development.”
In terms of how to make eggs for baby, prepare the egg in the same consistency as that of the other solids the child is eating. “If your child is eating Stage 1 purees, then give him a boiled or a softly scrambled egg,” Ayoob says. You can mash, puree or pulverize it.
In her book, Altmann also suggests adding breast milk or water to thin the egg out if baby needs something more liquid. She also says baby can enjoy a third of a large cooked egg two to three times a week.
At eight to 12 months, you can increase the portion size to a half of a large cooked egg two to three times a week—and put scrambled eggs on the menu. They’re a “fantastic finger food,” she writes. But you can also switch it up, as you would for your own breakfast. At this point, baby is old enough to also enjoy eggs hard-boiled and cut into small pieces.
Published August 2017