I share my EXCLUSIVE 1 month BLW foods meal plan for 6-12 month old babies as an easy step-by-step guide for starting solids and reducing food allergies.
I am a big advocate of baby led weaning (BLW) and have talked a LOT about how to successfully introduce BLW foods and common food allergens to help reduce the risk of allergy in your kids.
In previous posts, we have discussed the recent EAT study which outlined the new guidelines for allergy introduction. It states that we no longer want to wait until 1 year or later to introduce common food allergens like peanuts and eggs. Instead, earlier introduction (around 6 months for most babies) has been shown to help reduce the risk of food allergies.
Table of contents
Starting Solids Before One
We know we don’t want to delay allergens when starting solids and BLW foods. Which means that starting solids before one is beneficial for a number of reasons, including:
- Babies needs for Iron are particularly high after 6 months (11 mg!), and breastmilk or formula alone do not meet these needs.
- Babies need to learn how to eat solids of different textures and learn how to chew. They actually have a unique window around 6-10 months when they are best able to learn to explore a variety of textures. Research suggests that babies fed exclusively liquid and purees by 9 or 10 months have a more difficult time with picky eating down the road.
- Setting the stage so that by 12 months, the majority of baby’s calories are coming from solids, rather than milk or formula. Without adequate practice, it’s unlikely they will be able to make this transition overnight.
- Reducing the risk of common food allergies.
Introducing Common Allergens
The landmark research that the new recommendations were built on specifically looked at peanuts and eggs. However, based on other studies and expert opinion, it’s recommended that we introduce all allergens earlier than later.
Personally, I start with egg and peanut. To me, these are the most “scary” and it is what the evidence is grounded in. If you had an allergy in the family that you were particularly worried about, you could also start there (with your pediatrician’s approval, of course).
Frequency of Allergen Introduction
Experts used to recommend being very cautious with introducing allergens by only providing one food and waiting 3 to 5 days to provide another. The reason for this recommendation was that it allowed us to catch an allergy and identify the culprit more easily if you only fed that one food for a period of time.
However, this recommendation is a bit outdated. The reality is that most allergic reactions will surface within minutes, but they can make an appearance up to 2 hours after ingestion. So if there IS a reaction, you’ll know pretty fast – not likely DAYS later.
Plus, following this method of allergen introduction would mean it would take you and your baby a LONG TIME to experience all of the common allergens and start eating full meals with a variety of other important, nutritious foods. Also, who has the time/ energy to be SO deliberate on meal planning- the beauty of BLW foods is that baby can eat what you’re eating!
Ultimately, how quickly you progress with your baby and food allergens is really up to your comfort level. With that said, I get that you may be anxious – and trust me, I was too! Which is why in my meal plan, I have done two days in a row of the same allergen before moving onto the next. This makes it easy for you to keep track!
Keep in mind that we still want to continue to provide these common allergens often, rather than just doing the three trials and forgetting about it. This will help baby maintain tolerance. The recommendation for peanut allergies, specifically, is three feedings per week. So I say just try to regularly incorporate the big allergens into your baby’s meals.
When to Trial Allergens
I recommend giving your allergenic trialing meals earlier on in the day – breakfast or lunch. This way, you have the rest of the day to monitor for any reactions. If you do introduce an allergen around supper time, i’d suggest leaving at least 2 hours before bedtime to monitor.
To keep this simple for you, the meal plan is for one meal a day, and works up toward a more substantial meal as the month progresses. It’s your call how quickly you start adding meals, or snacks once you start solids.
If you’re ready to do two meals right from the get go, you can repeat the items for meal two, split the meal in half, or offer some of the non-allergenic foods at meal two. Keep in mind that it is ideal that allergens are trialed earlier in the day.
How to Know if Baby is Having an Allergic Reaction
Allergy signs and symptoms can typically be mild like a rash, or set of hives, but more severe symptoms can include swelling of the lip, eyes, or face, vomiting, hives all over the body, breathing symptoms like wheezing, or coughing, changing skin colour or sudden limpness.
One Month BLW Foods Meal Plan for 6-12 Month Old Baby
This is just a sample based on some of my son’s favourite BLW foods and some easy ways to incorporate allergens for new eaters, while also loading up on those iron-rich foods. You can swap in whatever your family is serving that night, and remember to have fun! Starting solids shouldn’t be stressful and serving up BLW foods shouldn’t be more work than feeding yourself and the rest of your family.
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Moms, dads and caregivers – what were some of your tactics for reducing food allergies and starting solids? Did you find this BLW foods meal plan helpful?
Leave me a comment below!
Abbey Sharp is a Registered Dietitian (RD), regulated by the Ontario College of Dietitians. She is a mom, YouTuber, Blogger, award winning cookbook author, media coach specializing in food and nutrition influencers, and a frequent contributor to national publications like Healthline and on national broadcast TV shows.