Babies can eat strawberries, but you must be careful because young babies may have an allergic reaction to them. The general recommendation is that you shouldn’t give strawberries to babies under the age of 6 months. Beyond 6 months, they can slowly be introduced, perhaps as strawberry purée or very small chopped up pieces.
It seems odd that such a delicious and natural food is a common allergen in babies. However, strawberries contain a relatively large amount of a chemical called histamine. Histamine is a chemical which stimulates our immune system, particularly the inflammatory response, and babies are particularly sensitive to it.
You may have heard of histamine (or more likely anti-histamine) in the context of hay fever or pet allergies. This is because pollen/ pet hairs trigger the release of histamine in our body – causing puffy faces etc. An anti-histamine inhibits the action of histamine, which reduces the symptoms. It is not recommended to give babies anti-histamines though.
Typical signs of an allergic reaction to strawberries are itchy/ red skin (similar to hey fever), which are typical responses to inflammation.
The advice for preventing food allergy in infants is to delay introduction of potentially allergenic foods (e.g peanuts) until 3 years of age. However, this advice was based mainly on expert opinion and not evidence-based research.
In fact, delaying exposure to foods which commonly trigger an allergic reaction can actually increase the risk of developing an allergic reaction to that food later in life. Now, recent research suggests that early introduction of potentially allergenic foods at 4 to 6 months of age might actually provide a form of protection and help prevent an allergy, but scientists admit that more research is needed.
So, from the research there is still no clear answer, although it looks like the best time to introduce small amounts of strawberries is shortly after the 6 month mark. This way the introduction is within current guidelines to minimise risk of a reaction, but is still early in the babies life, which can help prevent the baby developing an allergy later in life.
When you do introduce strawberries be sure to keep an eye out for symptoms of a possible allergic reaction, such as puffy or itchy skin.
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Yes, but strawberries are a common allergen to babies. Current guidelines for introduction are around 6 months.