Tackling food allergies

Clutching a spoon of peanut butter in one hand and the First Aid book in the other, I eyed my seven-month-old anxiously. There he was, all bundled up in his car seat, ready to be zoomed off to the emergency room at the first hint of distress. As his lips clamped down on that spoonful of gooey brown goodness, I felt my heart pounding in my throat...

"No peanuts for your little peanut!" the book had warned. Not at least until his first birthday. Of course this notion is something my hubby put down to sheer craziness. You see, my husband (who prides himself on reading scientific journals) has tuned into the new way of thinking that exposure to allergens at an early age is best for Baby.

Getting back to that nutty moment, let's just say I'm glad I sided with Hubby on this one. Not only was there no trip to the ER, but we've discovered another food that Baby simply can't get enough of. While we don't give it to him all the time, it definitely comes in useful when good old butternut and sweet potato fall short of Baby's exacting standards.

Of course, crossing the 'peanut-butter divide' has sparked some disapproving looks from my fellow moms. Which begs the question: do I dare tell them about those egg whites I've been giving him? And what about my friend who maintains no meat for the first year is the way to go: wonder what she would make of my little one's penchant for tuna fish?

Playing it safe or paranoid?

Look, I'm not for one second denying the risks involved. Whether you or your partner are allergy sufferers or not, there's seemingly no safe way of knowing what your child's reaction will be. So when it comes to pushing food boundaries, how do you draw the line between what's a little risky versus downright dangerous? And if you opt to play it completely safe, at what point do you become paranoid?

In my case, all this worrying seemed to take hold the moment we found out I was pregnant. I actually went for months without ham (which I was craving) because I'd read that it was bad for the baby. After that had finally got the green light from the doc, there were countless other fears to take its place: no soft cheese, no soft serve, no liver, no sausages and no fish containing pollutants.

Once baby was safely out of the womb, I was thrilled to tuck into some sushi and enjoy the odd sip of wine and with him on a diet of pure breast milk, it seemed the worrying was over. Until we started on the solids. Apart from agonising over things like when to introduce cow's milk, I had a crisis of conscience to contend with. I mean, what do you do when the paediatrician vetoes ice cream and Granny (innocently) offers it to Baby the very next day?

While I've decided to wait on things like chocolate, I think I've more or less settled on a 'try a bit of everything' approach when it comes to baby food. That said, I'll be sure to go easy on the curries and it's highly unlikely I'll be bringing on the Lobster Bisque any time soon.  After all, with grass, caterpillars and dog biscuits topping Baby's list of most appetising options right now, it's more the unofficial menu that worries me!

How did you tackle the issue of allergies?

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.
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