Turns Out, Your Baby Can Chow Down On Eggs Earlier Than You Thought

My son is 6 months old and we've begun trying solid foods. At this age, eating solids is still mostly a learning experience, allowing him to touch, taste, and smell the sensory delights; he also loves the social aspect of joining in with the rest of the family. Even still, what I choose to feed him matters because its setting up habits for the rest of childhood. I naturally gravitate mostly toward fruits and vegetables, so I have to be intentional about offering protein sources as well. He's not ready for meat yet, but when can babies have eggs? Is 6 months too young?

According to my pediatrician, Sheila Baker, ARNP, it's not. At our last well-child visit, Baker suggested I try to start giving him some scrambled eggs to eat every once in awhile. Not only is it a good source of protein, she pointed out that the tactile sensation is great for his brain development as well. But, I asked, shouldn't I worry about him choking, especially since he doesn't have any teeth yet? Baker said that teeth are actually only necessary for biting, not chewing — his hard gum line is more than sufficient for grinding up soft food.

In the past, there has been a fair amount of fear surrounding feeding babies eggs due to concerns of an allergic reaction. In a 2009 article in Parents magazine, for instance, caregivers were cautioned not to feed babies eggs until 12 months of age (egg whites were deemed acceptable at 9 months). However, more recent science tells us this fear is unwarranted. In fact, the opposite seems to be true.

Today's Parent reported that feeding your baby eggs at 6 months old can actually decrease her risk of developing a food allergy later on. The same goes for other common allergens, like peanuts, which is why Baker recommended I begin putting a dab of peanut butter in my son's mouth at 4 months old. (This has to be the best thing ever — watching a baby eat peanut butter.)

When Today did a feature on surprising foods you should be feeding your baby, eggs made the short list of five. "Eggs are a perfect single-ingredient food," the news outlet reported. "Easy to prepare, they are a convenient and healthy source of protein, fat, and other nutrients such as biotin and iron, which are important for growth and a healthy body. Eggs are a top source of protein for children and are easy to make and serve." Boom.

Not sure how to prepare an egg for a person who can't even walk? It's best to start as chewable as possible: Scrambled eggs are always a crowd pleaser, or hard boil one and mash it up before offering it to Junior. If you'd prefer it even softer, add breast milk or even water to the bowl. And don't worry about separating parts of the egg — modern research promotes giving your baby both the egg yolk and the white.

While you're thinking outside the box — or outside the baby food jar, as it were — remember to choose foods that pack the most nutritional punch. Offering your baby veggies more often than fruit, for instance, ensures he won't get overly selective about the sweet sensation and will be more open to a healthy variety of tastes as he grows.

Similarly, there's no need to feel obligated to purchase rice cereal to spoon feed your tot. The nutritional value is not particularly impressive, according to University of Rochester Medical Center, especially when compared to other types of whole foods, like puréed fresh vegetables, pieces of avocado, and of course — the incredible, edible egg.