Introducing Allergens to Infants

With the rising incidence of allergies in children, it is no wonder that many parents worry about how and when to introduce their baby to solid foods. All parents wish to avoid any adverse reactions and are particularly nervous introducing some of the more common food allergens such as peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, soy and seafood. With advice from medical professionals often changing, the best place to go for up to date information is ASCIA (Australian Centre of Clinical Immunology and Allergy) This information is based on their recommendations and is intended as a guide only. This should not replace any information which you have been given by a medical professional.

Fresh Eggs

ASCIA’s key recommendation is to include foods which may cause an allergy into your child’s diet within the first 12 months of life when your baby is ready for solid food. According to ASCIA, studies show that by not delaying the introduction into your baby’s regular diet, the chance of your baby developing a food allergy may be reduced. Therefore, they suggest, when your infant is ready (but not before 4 months), introduce foods according to what the family usually eats, regardless of whether the food is considered to be a common food allergen. There is some evidence that the introduction of common allergenic foods including cooked eggs (raw egg is not recommended), peanuts, nuts, wheat, fish should not be delayed as has been suggested by some in the past.

Generally, when introducing infants to solid food, it is recommended to introduce just one new food at a time, every few days. This way, if a reaction occurs, the problem food can be more easily identified. If the infant has no adverse reactions, this food can be added to their regular diet. If your baby has an allergic reaction, at any time, stop giving that food and seek medical advice.

According to ASCIA, there is good evidence that for infants with severe eczema and/or egg allergy, that eating peanuts regularly before 12 months of age can reduce the risk of developing peanut allergy. As it is not recommended that babies are fed whole nuts, this may take the form of unsalted/unsweetened peanut butter, or crushed in a dish like a pesto. It is recommended that if your child already has an egg allergy or other food allergies or severe eczema, you should discuss how to do this with your doctor.

All infants should be given allergenic foods including peanut butter, cooked egg, dairy and wheat products in the first year of life. This includes infants at high risk of allergy.

It is not recommended that babies are given cow’s milk on its own as a drink before 12 months of age, however cow or soy milk and other dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt can be used in cooking or with other foods if dairy products/soy are tolerated.

In practice

When your baby is ready, introduce foods according to what the family usually eats, regardless of whether the food is considered to be a common food allergen. Using the Béaba Babycook, you will be able to create meals to suit your child's needs, knowing exactly what is in each dish. If you are concerned about food allergy in your child, or there is a history of allergy in your family, talk this over with your child’s paediatrician before introducing solids.

Please remember: This information should not replace that which you have been given by a medical professional. Some infants will develop food allergies. If there is any allergic reaction to any food, that food should be stopped and you should seek advice from a doctor with experience in food allergy.

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