When Should I Introduce Gluten To My Baby?

When should you introduce gluten?

Me: Baby, this is gluten. Gluten, this is baby.

Me (to gluten): I was hesitant to introduce the two of you at all. Hate is a strong word but it does apply here. I really don’t want you to treat my child the way you treat me but nevertheless, here we are, and here you too are meeting for the first time. Please be kind.

If you’re looking for advice on when to introduce gluten to your little one, most research will tell you that the best time to introduce gluten to babies who are at risk of developing the disease is after 6 months and whilst breastfeeding. This isn’t to say that it will prevent the child from developing celiac disease altogether but it may help delay it. I’ve heard this from various sources, including a few pediatric gastroenterologists I’ve spoken with and I’ve been given the same advice regarding other allergens too. This is what I planned to do with our little one…

…Until last week when I read an article based on a Norwegian study, which gives pretty much the complete opposite advice! This article says that introducing gluten after 6 months of age in babies at risk of developing the disease actually increases the risk. Whilst more studies are needed, the findings suggest that between 4-6 months of age may be the optimal time to introduce gluten in small amounts. It also says that breastfeeding past 12 months may actually increase the risk of developing celiac disease!!

So here we have more confusing data for new mothers looking for advice on the best time to introduce gluten to their children. Since this article suggests very different findings from advice I’ve gotten in the past, I really have no idea the best approach for introducing gluten to my little one when he or she arrives.

What are your thoughts on introducing gluten and other allergens? I’d love to hear from parents on how you dealt with this confusing matter! Please share your thoughts and experiences below..

 

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Comments

  • I’ve been thinking about the same things. My husband and I are (hopefully) getting pregnant in the next year, and, while I plan to breastfeed and that will avoid all gluten, I’m curious about what to do later. I’ve read a lot of studies that say the delayed introduction of typical allergens actually increases the risk of developing allergies. My husband loves all things gluten, so our house will never be 100% GF. I’d rather my child be able to eat gluten, so I definitely want to be prepared when it comes to that time. So much to think about!

  • Hi,
    This is such a difficult decision that more and more of us are going to be confronted with as Celiac Disease skyrockets. I did a literature review on the topic of introducing gluten to babies last year and shared my personal experiences as well. Would you mind if I share the link to my previous post? Thanks so much and I hope you and baby are feeling well!
    Jess (The Patient Celiac)

  • Thanks, Jess. Yes, definitely feel free to share! :) I’d love to read more research on this topic.

  • Hi Laura,
    Here it is. When I wrote it last year, the article that you talk about in your post had not been published yet, but the rest of the research I found supports the 4-6 or 7 month window as the best time to introduce gluten. I hope that you are able to make a decision as to what will work best for you, your baby, and your family. Good luck! Jess
    http://www.thepatientceliac.com/2012/12/29/introducing-gluten-to-the-baby-at-risk-for-celiac-disease/

  • Molly (Sprue Story)

    Oct 16th, 2013

    I agree, it’s totally confusing! I wrote about this today, too, because it bugs me how these new findings get picked up in the news without recognition that they directly contradict other previous studies. Oh well.

    Loved your take on “introducing” babies to gluten. Made me laugh!

  • What most fail to understand with regards to gluten sensitivity and to a certain degree coeliac, is that it’s about quantity over time. In other words, the earlier you introduce gluten and the more constant you are eating it, the higher the probability in developing sensitivity &/or coeliac. One does not develop a tolerance to gluten by slowly introducing it to your diet but rather, quite the contrary

  • yo tambien me cuestiono cuando es mejor introducir el gluten a nuestros hijos mas predispuestos que los demas, y es complicado, cada pedriata te da una respuesta,… cuando me toque ese momento no se que hare, me preocupa mucho
    gracias por tu post me resuelve dudas
    gracias

  • My son was exclusive breast fed for 6 months, and he continued to be breast fed until he was 18 months, and he developed Celiac before he turned 13. Personally, I am not sure I believe all these studies. Have the looked at the corollary? Has there been research on how many breast fed children still developed this disease? A test of how many didn’t get the disease isn’t enough.

  • So i was diagnosed celiac / coeliac at 21 yrs ild but hd veen sick for most of those 21 yrs! Advice with my first child ( now 14 yrs) was v scant – brest fed as long as possible ( did 12 mths) and no gluten for first year. So far she is able to eat gluten and has been tested ( blood only) three times and not a coeliac BUT she often has stomach aches / upsets – we reduce her gluten to once a day where pissible. Child no2 brestfed for 11 mths and gluten free for 1 year. He, too has been tested by blood tests ( never conclusive!) twice abd eats gluten and touch wood he is fine ( now 12 yrs old) Gluten and wheat products are hard for any body to digest hence the GF for first 12 mths ….. It is a minefield! Good luck

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