Another notable find from the NOPE show which I attended earlier this month (see previous blog here) was the new Babease range of baby foods.
There are over a dozen products, divided into Stage 1 (4+ months) and Stage 2 (7+ months), and all are free of the top 14 allergens (EU) and top 8 allergens (US) – with no precautionary allergen labelling warnings either. Only gluten free and dairy free are claimed on pack, I was told by the team behind the launch, because these are the only two allergens actually tested. The production factory is nut, peanut, sesame and soya free.
Stage 1 products are ‘smooth’, and Stage 2 are ‘textured’ – and some use ingredients which have become popular in free from circles, such as coconut water and quinoa. The products are vegetable (and fruit) based, use brown rice and sweet potato as starchy components, and include some other ingredients which you might not normally see in the baby food market – such as fennel and puy lentils.
It’s important to bear in mind the current official advice with regard to weaning and allergies – and that it is subject to change, in part due to the ongoing EAT study, and other research.
The World Health Organisation advise six months exclusive breastfeeding, and this is presently supported by the Department of Health, who say that babies can get all the nutrition they need from breastmilk (or infant formula). Weaning onto purees or mashes of parsnip, carrot, pear and sweet potato – considered low- or non-allergenic – is advised from six months, while maintaining breastfeeding or formula. Allergens (eg soya, milk, nuts, wheat, eggs) should be introduced from six months onwards, individually, with a gap of three days between each new introduction, in order to carefully track any possible subsequent reactions.
There is, however, little evidence that delaying weaning of allergenic foods prevents the development of allergy, and EAT is looking at whether introducing solids from four months may have a long-term protective effect against allergies. The thinking does appear to be shifting towards this direction – that allergenic foods should not be delayed – and perhaps that early introduction should be encouraged.
So although allergen-free products such as Babease may offer terrific convenience in the early days of weaning, perhaps have a role to play when you’re introducing allergenic foods in small amounts and in a controlled way, and are obviously useful if your paediatrician, allergist or paediatric dietitian has advised you to delay allergen introduction, or indeed if your baby is diagnosed early with a food allergy – remember that it is not considered wise to protect your baby from oral exposure to allergenic foods for as long as possible!
For Allergy UK advice on weaning, click here.
For NHS advice on weaning, click here.
For Coeliac UK weaning advice, click here.
For information about the EAT Study, click here.
For other allergen-free brands, click here.