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My wife and I are are starting to wean our 5-months old baby girl. What we are trying to do is a kind of baby-led weaning in which we basically give her the same things we are eating at our meal, in spoonfuls small enough such that she can swallow them without chocking. She seems to appreciate them, she reacts positively to the spoon, she opens her mouth, sometimes she even "throws" herself towards the spoon. She is not yet able to properly swallow, so a good part of what we give her falls down from her mouth, but I guess that's part of the learning process. Because of that, what she actually eats is rather small, so then she has her usual breastfeeding after her meal with us.

For the moment (a few days, right now) we haven't given much thought at what we would give her, except being attentive that she would like it (and, for the moment, she seemed to like whatever we would propose her). However, we are now asking ourselves whether there is any last-longing damage prematurely introducing some food might cause.

For example, could it happen that prematurely introducing some kind of foods, even if she likes it, might produce allergies or intolerances or coeliac disease?

Notice that I am not asking if food might trigger reactions to allergies or intolerances she would already have (or develop in the future) anyway, but only if that might bring to an allergy that would not have come if we didn't give her such food.

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    Hi and welcome, and apologies in advance for the bluntness of this comment. Is this something you have spoken about with your baby's Primary Care Provider? What did they say? (Do you trust people on the internet more than your PCP?) If you want reliable info, you should edit and ask for reliable studies. (E.g. there has been a recent about-face over peanuts.) It's a great question with potential for good answers. – anongoodnurse Apr 26 at 19:35
  • A point of clarification: are you introducing her to individual products one at a time? There is a big difference between intentionally excluding, or intentionally including, potential allergens early, as opposed to single-ingredient introduction to monitor for reactions. – Joe Apr 27 at 15:14
  • @anongoodnurse Hi, of course I am also taking into account what the PCP is saying. I am new to this SE community, but I assumed, based on my experience with others, that questions here are always meant to look for answers backed by reliable studies. I am trusting both what PCP says and people on the Internet that quote reliable information. Otherwise why would I ask? – Giovanni Mascellani Apr 29 at 6:23
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You've got it backwards. Introducing foods early reduces the chances of allergies.

https://readysetfood.com/blogs/community/the-aap-s-new-guidelines-for-infant-food-allergy-prevention-what-families-need-to-know

“In fact, parents should introduce allergens as early as 4-6 months according to the AAP and recent landmark studies. In addition, the AAP simplifies the advice for prevention by recommending early allergen introduction as the first line of defense against food allergies, even for breastfed or hydrolyzed formula-fed infants.”

https://www.aaaai.org/about-aaaai/newsroom/news-releases/food

Despite overall low adherence to the early introduction regimen, early introduction to allergenic solids was found to be effective in preventing the development of food allergies in specific groups of infants; those sensitized to food at enrollment and those with eczema of increasing severity at enrollment.

About the only thing that your baby could physically eat but is not safe is honey. Cow's milk is also not good either; both are okay at 12 months.

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  • Thanks. What is the problem with honey and cow's milk? – Giovanni Mascellani Apr 29 at 6:25
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    @Giovanni: honey can contain botulism spores. It's rare but its toxic is very dangerous to infants – dxh Apr 29 at 13:53
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    Cow's milk is hard on a baby's tummy. When their stomach is more acidic like a grown-ups, they can handle cow's milk. Same thing with honey; a more acidic stomach will neutralize the spores, but your baby doesn't have that yet, and your kitchen can't heat honey hot enough to kill the spores with heat. I mentioned honey first because being an infectious agent, even a little bit could make your baby very very sick. Cow's milk isn't quite so dangerous. – swbarnes2 Apr 29 at 16:09
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To my knowledge, introducing foodstuffs to your child does not cause allergies or intolerance. We were even given the advice to introduce foods that relatively many people are allergic to (such a peanuts) rather early on introducing our child to solid foods.

On the other hand, there are other reasons why some foods should not be given to babies and small children. Some of those reasons are that the digestive system can't process those foods properly or that they can contain bacteria or other pathogens that could be harmful.
I don't have a overview handy that shows what can be eaten from what age and the insights into that can change from time to time. Your baby's Primary Care Provider should be able to inform you what you can give your baby now and at what age other things can be introduced.

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    +1. Don't provide a list if you find one, I'd say. These recommendations will vary over time and geographically as different bacteria are prevalent in different parts of the world, and as new evidence emerges. The future-proof answer is simply to refer to the PCP here. The only thing I'd add to this is regarding the specific question of coeliac disease, we don't know very much, but it appears that early introduction is fine, but introduction in small amounts is key. – dxh Apr 27 at 10:50

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