By Theresa Albert, DHN
Every parent wants to give their children the best start in life and, let’s face it, allergies are awful. The good news is that both the medical and complementary medicine communities are coming together to help us understand allergies and avoid some potential problems down the road.
Allergies start before birth in the most unexpected of places: the birth canal. A baby picks up much of its mom’s immunity on its way from the inside world to the outside. It is now thought that kids born
by Caesarean section may have more allergies than those born naturally. Taking probiotics (yogurts and supplements) during pregnancy will help to build up levels of good bacteria, while eating fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut and miso soup will help to keep the bacteria alive.
A child’s immune system can also be encouraged to reduce the allergy risk after birth. Breastfeeding is best for building immunity, and the same foods you ate during pregnancy can help you both now.
When to feed solids
Each child is different in his or her readiness to eat solids, as it takes a fully developed tongue and mouth to be able to safely taste and swallow. Please don’t listen to the myth that solids will help a baby sleep through the night. Gut enzymes need to be ready to digest each macro nutrient: Fats, carbohydrates and proteins. If they’re not then you’ll just get a gassy baby, which actually diminishes the child’s good bacteria.
When your child is ready, introduce one food at a time and look out for reactions over three to five days. Each baby will react differently. Watch for rashes on the skin or around the mouth, swollen or red eyes, diaper rash or diarrhea. Give each food three to five days to show its effect and then proceed with the next one. Later, come back to that first food and try it again to confirm your test. You are the parent scientist and your baby is his or her own test tube.
Nuts and eggs?
It is now recommended that kids eat eggs as one of their first foods! It turns out that previous avoidance advice was way off-base. Waiting longer can actually increase the risk of allergy. Eggs and nut butters are protein-rich, full of good fats that help to build the brain, are affordable, and are easy to prepare in a variety of ways. Of course, you will want to fully cook eggs to safe temperatures to kill all pathogens. But fear not about the allergen risk: you won’t create allergies.
Any-Nut Cookie Recipe
Try these nutrient-dense super-cookies once your baby has shown no signs of egg, nut or wheat allergies. Kids from a year up will love them and they take minutes to bake.
Note: Add the flour gradually—the amount required will depend upon the nut and the grind. Makes: 36 Takes: 15 minutes
• 2 cups natural nut or seed butter
• 1/4 cup molasses
• 1/4 cup honey
• 1 large egg
• 3–6 tablespoons whole wheat flour, divided
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Using a mixer or wooden spoon, blend the nut or seed butter, molasses and honey together, and add the egg. Sprinkle in the flour one tablespoon at a time until the mixture is firm and you can form small balls.Then, take about a tablespoon and roll it into a ball. Place on a baking sheet and press with a fork. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until puffy but soft. They harden as they cool and will not brown.
Theresa Albert is a corporate food communications consultant, motivational speaker and private personal nutritionist. She regularly appears on CBC’s Steven and Chris for lifestyle and health food reports.