Yesterday a reader of this blog emailed with this question:
“… my question revolves more around how long between different foods [when introducing solid foods]. For instance they say 4 days roughly but if I start with meats and plan to next go to vegetables, is there a certain amount of time I should spend on meats generally before going to another food group (not just individual meats themselves)? For instance, can you go one meat, wait four days, and then jump right to vegetables?”
I actually see two topics within her question: 1) how long to wait between foods; and 2) what order to introduce foods.
How Long to Wait Between Foods
For a long time, the recommendations have been to introduce foods one at a time and wait a few days between the foods. Recommendations varied from 1 day to 5 days. Recently here in Canada, the recommendations have changed, removing the advice to wait any amount of time between introducing foods.
I admit that in this instance I’m not going to toe-the-line. I still recommend waiting 48 – 72 hours between foods. The reason for this time gap is to watch for any signs of food allergy or sensitivity (e.g. rashes). It can take up to 72 hours to see a reaction. I’ve helped many families try to figure out whether a new rash is a food allergy. It’s already difficult enough for exhausted parents to try to remember the last 72 hours to see if there’s any new laundry soap or if they went on a play date where their friend uses a different floor cleaner. If you’ve only introduced one new food in that time, then it makes the back-tracking easier. If you’ve introduced six new foods, then we need to weed out each of those in addition to everything else your baby was exposed to.
But I want to be really clear on one thing that’s often misunderstood: there’s no evidence that introducing more than one food at a time increases the risk for food allergy.
What Order to Introduce Foods
It’s recommended that first foods be iron-rich foods, quickly building up to offering iron-rich foods twice a day. Meat is one option (as this mom mentioned).Then once you have a few iron-rich foods in your baby’s repertoire, go ahead with any other food – vegetable, fruit, grain, etc.
It doesn’t matter in what order you introduce these new foods or food groups. For example, in a previous blog post (read it by clicking here) I busted the myth that introducing fruits before vegetables causes a sweet tooth.
Enjoy introducing your baby to a wide variety of foods – the more the better in order to meet their growing nutrition needs.
Do you have a question that you’d like me to answer here? Email me at Kristen@KristenYarker.com and mention “Love Child Blog” in the subject line.
Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD
Helping Moms and Dads support their picky eaters to try new foods on their own (without being forceful or sneaky)