Eggs are highly nutritious and full of protein, vitamins and minerals your toddler needs to help her grow. In the past, however, parents have often been cautioned about feeding egg to a baby or toddler, and recommendations to avoid egg whites were common. In recent years, however, the recommendations about when to introduce potentially allergenic foods has changed.
The main reason a parent might want to limit serving egg whites to a 1-year-old is the potential for allergies. Most egg allergies occur in response to proteins in the white, not those in the yolk. Egg allergies often cause mild skin symptoms, such as swollen or flushed skin, eczema and hives. These can be all over the body or primarily focused around the mouth or anus. Babies and toddlers with an egg allergy might also experience abdominal discomfort and could have diarrhea, vomiting or itching around the mouth. Some children have a severe allergic reaction that includes respiratory problems, a rapid heart beat and lowered blood pressure, but this level of reaction is rare.
While some pediatricians advise waiting until a child is at least 1 to introduce allergens, some still caution parents to wait even longer. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics revised its recommendations in 2008 to state that there is no reason to delay feeding your child any allergenic substance once they start eating solids at some point between 4 and 6 months old. This revision came in light of new evidence showing that delaying allergenic foods does not protect the child from developing allergies as previously thought. In fact, a 2010 study done in Australia found that babies who didn't try eggs until after their first birthday had a risk of developing allergies five times higher than babies who ate egg for the first time when between 4 and 6 months.
While allergen concerns might not be a reason to limit egg whites from your toddler's diet, you should still make sure that all egg whites or whole eggs served to your child are thoroughly cooked. Uncooked egg whites, including those tossed into smoothies or pureed foods, can contain salmonella. This bacteria can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever. In rare cases, it can get into the bloodstream and become potentially deadly.
In most cases, thoroughly cooked egg whites are a healthy, safe addition to your 1-year-old's diet. If you have breastfed your child at all during his first year of life, he might have already been exposed to the proteins in egg white, since these proteins often pass into breast milk. Even if your child does exhibit signs of an allergy, keep in mind that it could be temporary. Most children with egg allergies outgrow them by age 5, so even if your child experiences a reaction in toddlerhood, he could be perfectly fine consuming eggs after kindergarten.
- KidsHealth; Egg Allergy; Steven Dowshen
- Wholesome Baby Food: When Can I Feed My Baby Eggs and Egg Yolks to Avoid an Allergy?
- "Current Opinions in Pediatrics"; American Academy of Pediatrics Recommendations on the Effects of Early Nutritional Interventions on the Development of Atopic Disease; Ananth Thygarajan, et al.; December 2008
- Australian Broadcasting Co.; Exposure May Prevent Egg Allergy; Alma Mistry, et al.; October 2010
- Baby Center; Food Poisoning; February 2006