Eggs are a nutritious and versatile food, but parents often wonder if they should hold off on introducing eggs to a child until a particular age. Fortunately for egg-loving families, children without a family history of egg allergies can start to enjoy this healthy food as soon as they start eating solids.
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One potential problem with introducing eggs to a young child is the possibility of an allergic reaction. The main allergenic component of eggs is albumin, a protein found in the white of the egg. Some allergic children can eat egg yolks but not egg whites, while others react to the entire egg. Kids typically outgrow egg allergies by the age of 5, so if your child shows a reaction earlier in life, you might be able to reintroduce eggs safely after his 5th birthday.
In the past, medical authorities advised parents to hold off on serving potentially allergenic foods, including eggs, until after the age of 2 or 3. However, in 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics revised its guidelines on allergenic foods, stating that it is not necessary to restrict potentially allergenic foods, so you can serve eggs as soon as you start offering solid foods. In many parts of the world, egg yolks are among the first foods introduced to children at about 6 months old. If you have a family history of egg allergies, talk to your child's doctor about when to offer eggs to your child.
Eggs can be a healthy addition to your child's everyday menu. Eggs are a great source of protein and also provide plenty of iron, making them a great choice for babies between the ages of 6 to 12 months who are often at risk for iron deficiency. Eggs are also a good source of riboflavin and selenium.
No matter when you choose to introduce eggs to your child, make sure that any eggs you serve are cooked thoroughly. Uncooked or partially cooked eggs can carry salmonella, a dangerous bacteria that can cause food poisoning. While only one in about 20,000 eggs carry the pathogen, eggs that have it are indistinguishable from uninfected eggs. Children are particularly vulnerable to food poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, kids under 5 are diagnosed with salmonella infections more often than all other age groups.