Allergies – a sensitive subject

My friend Jen is a good and impressive woman, but let’s just say that she is un petit peu cautious by nature. And a teensy bit anal, as well, but in a cute way, with just a hint of Monica Geller. (Like Monica, I suspect she is secretly a flibbertigibbet of monumental proportions, but I digress…)

On the matter of allergies, however, she has good reason as her family history seems to predicate her son to having frightening allergic reactions. Maybe he’ll have them, maybe he won’t, but you can bet your life that Jen will make every effort possible to avoid him suffering in any way.

She has also recently discovered that she can’t be bothered cooking, so she has evolved a cunning way of bulk cooking BLW foods, which is worth reading even for those of you who are intolerant of the very idea of intolerance. Here it is…

Fast-food baby-led low-allergen-risk weaning
How’s that for a title?

On behalf of all Canadians I should come forward as the true Canadian worrier that Aitch was referring to, and perhaps come clean about my anxious tendencies. This, I hope, will help everyone understand that my worrying is simply a result of being a product of a skilfully nervy family, as opposed to being a citizen of a worrying country. Or maybe it’s about my need to be in control?  Perhaps that’s for my therapist to sort out…

I do feel that my worrying about Bubby and his eating has really stemmed from a legitimate source, as opposed to my own delusions. The fact is, he has a cousin on each side with life-threatening food allergies (egg, dairy, wheat, peanuts), and his parents have had eczema and hay fever.  So clearly Bubby is pretty darn eligible for the food allergy award of the year.

I met someone over the summer who told me her 18-month-old has a dairy allergy, and that her GP told her it was likely because her child had been both (a) genetically vulnerable to developing this allergy, and (b) introduced to milk too early. Combined, this has resulted in the allergy, she thinks.
It seemed clear to me then that when we began weaning, Bubby’s diet needed to be as cautious as possible when it came to introducing foods since exposure to the food plays a significant role in the development of an allergy.
However, being the queen of not-planning-meals-more-than-five-minutes-in-advance, the fact that almost every pre-prepared baby food out there contains at least dairy, if not other potential allergens, has meant I need to find creative ways of weaning that are both healthy and quick.
Since I’ve taken time to figure it out, I thought perhaps there might be others not so keen to sort through everything like I have (or not so obsessive), and my discoveries might help you. Even if you’re not Canadian… I mean, a worrier.

Here’s my combination approach:

1. Baby-led weaning
2. Introducing low allergen-risk foods at recommended stages to minimize reaction
3. Foods pre-prepared for speedy, dash-to-the-fridge/freezer-and-grab-what-you-need delivery.

Baby-led weaning?
Well, you’re on the website, and can sort that out pretty easily. We’ve offered Bubby a range of food options at each meal, which he feeds himself.

Introducing low allergen-risk foods?
For the sequence of introducing foods, we’ve followed the guide you can find under ‘links’ to the right of the screen: ‘Sequence of Adding Foods…’ (this by the way came thanks to my frighteningly all-knowing paediatric physiotherapist sister—see my above reference to family for more insight)

But what the heck kinds of foods can I give him?
It’s one thing to know what I’m not allowed to feed him, but what and how I can feed him is another problem altogether. I have to recommend a great book which has helped me through all this stuff: Lucy Burley’s Optimum Nutrition for Children’ outlines best options for food choices.

The pacing of introducing foods
Lucy Burley’s book also has a chart that gives recommendations about the pace of the introduction food. It was her chart I’ve used to guide us through first three months of weaning. It’s been particularly helpful since I’ll be going back to work, have been breastfeeding till now, and needed to plan how to wean him from breastfeeding without using (dairy-based) formula.

I suggest using it only as a guide, of course…surely you’ve read enough of this website by now to understand that BLW means being relaxed about mess and food amounts? But I am someone who always needs to feel some sense of control over the world (surely this is related to my great worrying capacity?) and who needs to have some grasp of the direction we’re moving in at all times, so this chart was a lifesaver.
It’s simple, but good. Obviously the teaspoon and dessertspoon bits aren’t that relevant to Baby Led Weaning but it’s a good place to start. And it does give you a good idea of just how little babies are supposed to be eating in the early stages.

Week 1 & 2 Week 3 & 4 Week 5 & 6 Week 7 & 8 Week 9 & 10 Week 11 & 12
Early Morning Milk Milk
Breakfast MilkMilk Milk
1-2 tsp solids
Milk
Milk
2-3 tsp solids
Milk
Milk
1 dsp solids
Milk
Milk
3-4 dsp solids
Milk
Milk
Lunch Milk
1-2 tsp solids
Milk
Milk
3-4 tsp solids
Milk
Milk
5-6 tsp solids
Milk

4-5 dsp solids
Milk

4-5 dsp solids

4-5 dsp solids
Beaker of milk
Tea Milk Milk Milk
2-3 tsp solids
Milk
Milk
3-4 dsp solids
Milk

4-5 dsp solids
Milk

4-5 dsp solids
Beaker of milk
Bedtime Milk Milk Milk Milk Milk Milk

Adapted from Lucy Burney, Optimum Nutrition for Babies and Young Children
http://www.lucyburney.co.uk/books/index.html

And we’re lucky enough that we haven’t had to worry about amounts; Bubby gobbles up just about anything – even if he gets three chews in and then suddenly remembers that he hates what I’ve sneakily given him again (like butter/ lima beans). Aitch calls this ‘weaning groundhog day’.  Hilariously, it happened with organic lamb’s liver again this week.

The quick and easy solution.
Remember I said I just don’t do ‘plan-in-advance’ foods very well? I used to think it’s because I work long hours.  Now I’m at home with Bubby, I have had to face the raw truth that I simply just don’t like cooking. Not that I don’t have great aspirations – I’ve read through the recipes on this site a million times, thinking ‘right, next time I won’t buy the organic oat cakes, I’ll bake them’.

Hasn’t happened yet, and I’m coming to terms with the fact it may never happen.

1. Buy up all the vegetables and fruit for baby in one shop. We’ve gone organic with everything.
2. Set aside all the vegetables and fruit baby can’t eat raw
3. Chop them all up in fist-grabbing sizes
4. Steam them (we are the deliriously appreciative recipients of some fantastic hand-me-down baby things, including a ‘babycook’ which has made things even easier, since it reduces the risk of over-steaming food)
5. Let them cool
6. Put them in separate plastic freezer bags (and label and date them, if you’re OTT organized). We keep food in the freezer for up to 1 month.
7.Toss out everything you don’t need in your freezer and make room for these bags.
8. At each meal, go through the bags, taking out whatever you want to feed baby.
9. Put in bowl, and pour freshly boiled water over them.
10. Leave for 2 minutes, and presto! Food is right ready for baby; a whole healthy range of colourful veggies and fruit.

We also freeze lentils, brown rice and kidney beans in those ice cube boxes, and toss them into separate freezer bags too.We heat them to piping hot in the microwave then let them cool before letting the baby loose on them

Bubby loves the range and variety of his foods, after all he doesn’t know that I’m limiting him. He can eat off our plates when we’re out without having to dig into the rare prefab baby food that doesn’t have dairy, and we’re all happy.

So there you have the consciously anally-retentive approach to baby-led weaning.  May other control-obsessed (and consequently control-grieving) mothers be buoyed and encouraged:  there is a way!

6 Responses to “Allergies – a sensitive subject”

  1. Nicola Milsom says:

    Hi there,

    This information is just great. I have a 6 month old baby (6 months adjusted, actually 4 months and 3 weeks) whose brother is allergic to nuts, eggs and sesame. I’m really interested in BLW but I do have to consider babies prematurity (age related introduction of foods) and the history of severe allergies in family (anaphylaxis). It’s heartening to know that BLW can be tweaked to take into account other factors and so successfully.

    Would it be possible to send me the information related to the sequence of introducing foods? I can’t see the link to the right of the page so perhaps it has been moved elsewhere?

    Thanks so much and if there is any further info/websites you might be able to point me in the direction of, that would be rather fabulous.

    Best wishes,

    Nicola Milsom (Aus)

    • Aitch says:

      must dash, but there isn’t really a hard and fast sequence, it seems to be different in different countries. i’d let the allergies do the talking, if i was you, and stick to your local sequence, leaving gaps between introducing new foods, keeping things seasonal and local as well. regarding the prematurity, my two month prem dd started eating at about five months corrected, if i recall correctly. i was glad i’d left it up to her, in the end.

  2. [...] Some good information for those concerned about food allergies. [...]

  3. Kristen says:

    Thanks for this, It’s a good guide. I have to admit I’m a bit concerned about this being an indication of “how little babies are supposed to be eating”. My 6month old has been eating solids using blw for two weeks and he’s wolfing down food like there’s no tomorrow! Lots of it ends up everywhere other than his mouth it he’s still swallowing a lot. Could I be over feeding him? :(

  4. MissusA says:

    Thanks for this article. I was most interested in the following

    ” For the sequence of introducing foods, we’ve followed the guide you can find under ‘links’ to the right of the screen: ‘Sequence of Adding Foods…”

    But can’t seem to find it anywhere on the website. I’ve taken a back step with BLW with my little girl after a very scary and sudden reaction she had with aubergine so I’m really hoping you can help so that I can introduce low allergen foods ina sequence and frequency that will be best for my baby.

    Thanks in advance

  5. Tina says:

    Hi, could someone also email me a copy of the “Sequence of Addig Foods” please?!? My 10 months fighter has severe eczema so I’m limiting her from dairy, wheat, eggs for much lateron. Thanks!!

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