Eggs are a powerhouse of nutrients, making them a great first food for babies. But before we dive into how to offer eggs to babies, let’s take a small trip down memory lane.
Until the 1980s, eggs were a seasonal food and were not available throughout the year. Then, to increase awareness of the nutritional value of the humble egg, the National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC) launched the “Egg-cellent” campaign. Their popular slogan-turned-jingle “Sunday ho ya Monday, roz khao ande!” (translated as “Whether it’s Sunday or Monday, eat eggs every day!”) was a hit among adults and kids. This campaign helped increase consumption of eggs among Indian homes.
Egg Is a Common Allergen
Eggs can be introduced to babies as soon as they start their solid food journey – at 6 months. However, be mindful that eggs are a common allergen. To help prevent food allergies in your baby, introduce eggs in their diet early (6 months onward).
Early and sustained introduction of allergenic foods, as we have mentioned earlier, helps reduce the risk of allergies in babies. The goal is to offer these foods in a gradual manner in small quantities but at a consistent pace. (More information on how to serve eggs is given below.)
A form of intolerance is also called FPIES (that is, food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome). This is a delayed gut allergic reaction to a food, which occurs very rarely. Even small quantities of egg can cause intolerance or allergic reaction.
TIP: Babies are at a higher risk for developing an allergy if they already suffer from eczema or asthma, or if any immediate family member has an allergy.
Research shows that babies who have a food allergy tend to outgrow it by the time they turn 2. Consult with your doctor if you have any concerns or your baby is at higher risk for allergies.
Why Are Eggs a Superfood?
Eggs contain choline, which is a vital nutrient for brain, cognitive, and neurological development of your baby. Eggs are also rich in omega-3 fat, zinc, iron, folate, phosphorus, selenium, as well as vitamins A, D, E, and B12. Eating eggs can help support a baby’s eye health, immune system, healthy cell development, metabolic development, and bone health.
Eggs are also a complete protein, which is well absorbed by the body. They contain all essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of the body.
There are different types of eggs, like chicken, quail, or duck eggs. The most common variety consumed in India are chicken eggs, which is what we will focus on in this article.
If You’re a Vegetarian…
Our experts encourage you to make an informed decision based on what food habits work for you and your preferences/lifestyle/religion/ethics.
If your family does not eat eggs, it’s understandable that you will not introduce eggs to your baby’s diet. If you know that your child will not grow up and start eating eggs, then it’s perfectly fine to not expose them to eggs at a younger age.
However, if you foresee that your baby may turn eggetarian when they grow up or they may accidentally come into contact with this food (during travel or studying abroad), then it’s a good idea to introduce eggs to your baby’s diet 6 months onwards.
If you do decide to introduce eggs to your baby (despite being a vegetarian family), make sure it’s not a one-time thing. You must be prepared to and comfortable with frequently making egg-related recipes for your baby (repeated exposure prevents later risk of developing an allergy to that food).
Are Eggs a Choking Hazard?
Most forms of eggs (scrambled, bhurji, omelet) are not choking hazards, but boiled eggs can be a choking risk at 6 months of age due to the slippery-ness of the egg whites and the dry, sticky texture of the cooked yolk.
To avoid this, you can mix the boiled egg yolk with some water to give it a smoother, creamier consistency. Or on the safer side, serve your baby egg items like bhurji, scrambled, or omelet until they’re 9 months old. By then, they will be better able to handle eggs and their texture. Then you can start offering them sliced or quartered boiled egg whites.
TIP: Eggs can cause gagging in babies initially until they get used to the taste and texture. To help babies get comfortable, ensure they’re sitting in one place and are upright. You can offer sips of water in between to help them handle the food better.
Tips for Serving Eggs to Babies
- Start introducing eggs in very small quantities. Observe how your baby is tolerating it. Then gradually increase portions if they are fine after eating it.
- Try to offer eggs 3-4 times a week, to gradually increase exposure and reduce risk of developing allergy.
- Eggs should always be very well cooked, especially the yolk. It should never be runny or half cooked. Yolks can contain harmful bacteria; hence, raw yolks can cause digestive problems in babies.
- To avoid a choking risk, offer eggs in the form of very lightly seasoned bhurji, scrambled, or omelet. Omelets can be cut into 2-inch wide strips and offered as handheld food.
- Eggs can also be used in baking foods, which can then be offered to babies.
Can Babies Eat Eggs Every Day?
Although eggs are a powerhouse of nutrition, we don’t recommend that babies eat them every day. This is true not just for eggs. Serving any one specific food every day could lead to your baby developing picky eating habits in the future. That’s why, variety and balance are key when it comes to growing babies’ diets!