Last updated on Jun 21st, 2021 at 12:20 pm

(Info provided by www.sapoultry.co.za)

The first bath. The first sleepover at granny. The first giggle. And now, the first taste of food as you wean your baby onto solid foods…

The World Health Organisation1, supported by the South African Department of Health2, encourages that babies start solid food from six months. This is an optimal time when your baby’s gut and kidneys are physiologically mature enough to handle this newfound solid food.

Starting solids can be very confusing for parents with questions like what to eat, how much and when?  With all this concern, the good news is there is one less food to worry about – eggs.

Nutritious, delicious, affordable, and highly versatile, the simple egg is an easy and suitable option to introduce to your baby from early on in your weaning journey.

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Allergy awareness

Many parents understandably worry about introducing potentially allergenic foods like eggs to their baby’s diet. The truth is that the risk of food allergies is far less common than believed – a mere 3 in 100 children, according to local data.3

Despite this, many parents choose to delay the introduction of food allergens. The opposite is recommended though. Baby experts now suggest that parents introduce potential allergenic foods as soon as weaning is started.

Supporting this is the fact that the early introduction of eggs to a baby’s diet is associated with reduced egg allergy risk, according to research.4,5,6

Brain boost

Findings from a South American study7 suggests that eating eggs early in childhood could contribute to healthy brain development and function. Researchers think that this is because of choline, an important nutrient for optimal brain and nervous system function. Did you know that just one egg contains all the choline that a weaning baby of six months needs? Eggs also package other key nutrients for brain health, like protein, iron, zinc, vitamin B12, and biotin.

Grow baby, grow

There is a lot of research showing that egg-eating youngsters may have better growth and development.8 This is linked to diets low in choline possibly increasing stunting in young children. The early introduction of eggs, one of the best food sources of choline, can greatly improve a baby’s growth. Added to this, we know that eggs are high in good quality protein. Protein provides the building blocks for muscle, growth, and a healthy immune system for growing, busy little bodies.

Now while good growth is important, maintaining a healthy weight is just as key. Worrisome local statistics show that boys who are obese at 4 – 8 years are 20 times more likely to become obese teenagers and girls who are obese at 4 – 8 years are 42 times more likely.9

In a 2015 study, when children (aged 8 – 12 years) had eggs for breakfast, 32% reported feeling fuller and 14% felt less hungry, which is why eggs may help manage weight in older children.10

Whether plain or mixed with vegetables and cheese, well-cooked whole eggs are recommended for your baby’s diet. Omelettes, scrambled eggs or French toast, these easy egg recipes will be a great start to your child’s journey of healthy eating.

Remember, it’s important to always offer your baby age-appropriate purees and soft foods, which will differ from young babies just starting out with solids to older babies with more practice in their newfound eating skills.

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References

  1. World Health Organisation. Guiding principles on for complementary feeding of the breastfed child. 2001. Available from: https://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/guiding_principles_compfeeding_breastfed.pdf. Accessed 29 March 2021.
  2. Department of Health, South Africa. Infant and Young Child Feeding Policy. 2007. Available from: https://www.gov.za/sites/default/files/gcis_document/201409/infantfeed.pdf/ Accessed 29 March 2021.
  3. Botha M et al. Rural and urban food allergy prevalence from the South African Food Allergy (SAFFA) study. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2019;143(2):662-668.e2. Doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2018.07.023.
  4. Koplin JJ et al. Can early introduction of egg prevent egg allergy in infants? A population-based study. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010;126(4):807-13. Doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2010.07.028.
  5. Ierodiakonou D, Garcia-Larsen V, Logan A, et al. Timing of allergenic food introduction to the infant diet and risk of allergenic or autoimmune disease. A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA. 2016;316:1181–92.
  6. Fewtrell M et al. Complementary Feeding: A Position Paper by the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) Committee on Nutrition. Journal of Paediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. 2017;64: 119–132.
  7. Iannotti, L. L., Lutter, C. K., Waters, W. F., Gallegos Riofrıo, C. A., Malo, C., Reinhart, G., Stewart, C. P. (2017). Eggs early in complementary feeding increase choline pathway biomarkers and DHA: A randomized controlled trial in Ecuador. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 106, 1482–1489. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.117.160515
  8. Iannotti, L. L., Lutter, C. K., Stewart, C. P., Gallegos Riofrıo, C. A., Malo, C., Reinhart, G., Waters, W. F. (2017). Eggs in early complementary feeding and child growth: A randomized controlled trial. Paediatrics, 140(1).
  9. Lundeen EA, Norris SA, Adair LS, Richter LM, Stein AD. Sex differences in obesity incidence: 20-year prospective cohort in South Africa. Pediatr Obes. 2016; 11(1):75-80
  10. Baum JI, Gray M and Binns A. Breakfasts higher in protein increase postprandial energy expenditure, increase fat oxidation, and reduce hunger in overweight children from 8 to 12 years of age. J Nutr 2015; 145(10):2229–35