The advice about when and how best to introduce gluten to your baby has changed quite a bit in recent years. In this blog article we’ll look at the latest evidence.
What is Gluten?
You’ve probably heard a lot about gluten in recent years with the increase in people following a gluten free diet, some unnecessarily!
Contrary to what you may have heard, gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley is well tolerated by most people. People with coeliac disease must follow a strict gluten free diet. You find gluten in many cereals and flours and the foods made from these like bread, pasta, crackers, and breakfast cereals.
Oats don’t contain gluten, but maybe unsuitable for people with coeliac disease because gluten containing cereals are often processed in the same factory. Oats also contain a similar protein which a minority of people with coeliac disease cannot tolerate.
When can you offer gluten to your weaning baby?
There’s now no need to avoid gluten when you are introducing foods into your baby’s diet. You can introduce it into your baby’s diet anytime between 4 months and 12 months. However, most babies are introduced to gluten at about six months when weaning usually occurs. You should introduce gluten in small amounts initially. You don’t need to follow a strict schedule when you are introducing these foods as in previous advice.
What about if someone in the family already has Coeliac Disease?
You can introduce gluten in the same way even if you, your baby’s dad or sibling has confirmed Coeliac Disease.
Breastfeeding and gluten introduction
You might have come across advice to introduce gluten to your baby while you’re still breastfeeding. It was thought that this had a protective effect but there’s no evidence to prove this and it is no longer advised. However, there are lots of other good reasons to continue to breastfeed for as long as you can.
Some ideas for introducing gluten
Gluten is most commonly introduced at breakfast as many breakfast foods contain gluten. Remember to introduce gluten slowly to your baby for the first few months. Therefore you might like to mix it up between breakfasts with and without gluten.
|With Gluten||Without Gluten|
Pancakes (with flour)
Fruit Muffins (with flour)
|Boiled or scrambled eggs
Porridge Muffins or Porridge Fingers (no flour)
At Dinner Time
Gluten is usually introduced as pasta or as an ingredient like flour or breadcrumbs in dishes.
Gluten is often eaten as crackers, toast, bread, fruit or savoury muffins (with flour).
Foods like rusks, liga and biscotti all contain gluten but these aren’t recommended due to their high sugar content. Check out this blog article which looks at healthier snack ideas!