March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
Some babies are sensitive to certain foods, but how do you know which foods? Certain reactions, perhaps a rash, diarrhea or vomiting, are tell-tale signs that a food doesn't agree with your baby. Academy Spokesperson Marina Chaparro, RDN, CDE, MPH explains, "Food sensitivities and food allergies are not the same. Understanding the difference between them is important, especially in children, because it could have important nutrition implications in growing kids. A food allergy is a reaction by the immune system by a food that sees it as a threat. Food sensitivities on the other hand can be harder to pinpoint because they have a delayed response in the body. Unfortunately, there are no clear tests to identify a food sensitivity".
The good news is that most babies outgrow these reactions once their immune and digestive systems mature. In the meantime, monitor your baby for food reactions.
- Keep track of everything your baby eats. "Parents should keep a detailed log of symptoms encountered such as rashes, tummy aches, headaches and bowel movements," says Chaparro. Until you know which foods upset your baby, serve single-grain infant cereals and plain fruits, vegetables and meats instead of mixed varieties. If your baby has a reaction to a certain food, stop that food.
- As you introduce new foods, offer one at a time. Wait a couple of days before introducing another new food. That way if your baby has a problem, you'll know which food caused it.
- If any food causes a significant and ongoing problem, talk to your baby's doctor. Together, you can establish a plan that is best for your baby. "First consult your pediatrician or allergist and seek the help of a registered dietitian nutritionist. An RDN can give you advice on what foods are safe to include as well as meal plans so your child's diet is always adequate".