When Can You Give Babies Shellfish such as Shrimp, Crab, Squid
Many new parents are unsure about when can babies eat shellfish; "when can I give my baby shellfish" is one of the most common questions parents ask their pediatrician. You might be eating lots of shrimp, crab and squid at home and you are unsure if babies should eat shellfish at all.
Today, on oneHOWTO we will address that question considering the most recent guidelines. First of all, there is the issues of shellfish allergy, so you should always consult your baby´s pediatrician before introducing it in their diet. However, currently, in many countries, feeding babies shellfish, like many other taboos such as feeding spices to babies, is no longer considered forbidden. But what is the age for making a baby try shellfish?
Below, we will talk about the benefits and possible risks of feeding babies shellfish, so that you can make an informed choice. When can you give shellfish such as shrimp, crab and squid to babies? Keep reading...
Baby shellfish age
Before asking ourselves what is the age to give babies shellfish, we should ask ourselves when can we give solid food to babies in general. Currently, it is not recommended to feed babies anything other that breast milk and formula milk until 4 months of age, even better if we wait 6 months. At 6 months of age, babies´ stomach is ready to tolerate most adult food, therefore there is no need to follow strict food introduction schedules like parents did in the past. If your baby is breastfed, and you eat everything, they will have tried all kinds of foods trough your milk, and there is no need to make them only have boring first foods. Even in the belly, babies are exposed to common allergenic foods. There are exceptions: for example, foods babies should avoid are salt, honey and cow milk until one year of age, because they can pose health risks other than allergies.
So, if your baby is over 6 months of age, the current guidelines dictate you can feed them almost anything, always using your common sense and introducing new foods every 3-4 days so that you can monitor the reaction.
The reason why shellfish such as shrimp, crab and squid was not fed to babies in the past was because it is considered one of the shellfish allergy. For the past 40 years, pediatricians believed that, by postponing the introduction of certain grains, nuts, or shellfish, you could make babies tolerate such foods better. This belief has been proved wrong by some studies, particularly by a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) from 2008. Those studies suggest that not only are there no steps you can take to make your children not develop a certain allergy (including shellfish allergy), but that delaying the introduction of allergenic foods such as shellfish could even make the risk of shellfish allergy greater. That is because babies ingest allergenic foods such as shrimp, crab and squid when they are in the belly and while breastfeeding. Making them stop eating such foods can only make them more intolerant to them.
So, should babies eat shellfish? In principle, the AAP tells us you could choose to give babies shellfish from 6 months of age, after consulting your pediatrician, and after your baby has positively tolerated other first foods. There are some exception to this rule, read below.
Are there risks in giving babies shellfish?
You should be very cautious when deciding to feed your baby shellfish if a member of your family has a shellfish allergy, or if your baby has eczema. In such cases it is probably better to delay giving babies shellfish, not because delaying makes them tolerate shellfish better, but because there is a risk of allergic reaction, shellfish allergy could be bad for a very young baby.
Some pediatricians remain cautious as to when can babies eat shellfish because they fear that the allergic reaction could be more dangerous in younger babies compared to toddlers. Consider this when you are deciding when to give babies shellfish.
How to give babies shellfish
So, you decided the time has come to feed your baby shellfish. How should you proceed?
First of all, give them other solid food for a couple of weeks and make sure your baby tolerates solid food well. Then, give them small quantities of only one kind of shellfish at a time, for 3-4 days. You can introduce shellfish such as shrimp, crab and squid slowly. Do it at home, not in a restaurant, and make sure you can monitor your baby for the hours to come to detect any baby shellfish allergy symptoms. Baby shellfish allergy symptoms include: swelling, rash, abdominal cramps, vomit, diarrhea etc. In such cases you should call the emergency number and take your baby to the hospital. Other, less severe symptoms that tell us our baby is not ready for shellfish include gas and diaper rash.
The kind of shellfish dish you want to serve your baby also depends on the kind of weaning method you are following. If you are baby-led weaning, giving your baby a big shrimp they can hold and chew can be a fun idea!
So, when should babies eat shellfish depends on your babies´ personal circumstances, always consult your pediatrician before introducing new foods.
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