Safely Introducing Allergens into your Child's Diet

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With care and the support of trustworthy research, you can make life much easier for a child living with food allergies. But what if you could lessen the chance that your children will develop food allergies at all?

Delaying the introduction of foods that may cause allergies will not help in reducing the likelihood of them happening. There is a growing body of evidence that delaying the introduction of allergenic foods may contribute to the development of food allergies.

At MyWellaBee, we understand how difficult it can be to constantly be worrying about food allergies. We’ve put together a guide on how to introduce potential allergens into your child’s diet in the safest and most stress-free way possible.

Please note that this article is for children without allergies. If your child has been diagnosed with allergies and you are attempting to re-introduce them, we strongly recommend you do this in consultation with your healthcare professional. 

Take it slow

Make sure that the foods you introduce are introduced gradually. Stick to one new food at a time. If your baby experiences a reaction after you’ve given them multiple new foods, you won’t be able to identify which of those foods caused it. Food allergic reactions which are caused by IgE to food will result in immediate symptoms such as itchy skin, swelling, and difficulty in breathing. What is known as an immune reaction in the digestive system can still occur but if it is not IgE mediated there will be more response and this type of reaction will not have the skin and breathing symptoms of a typical allergy.   

Each time you introduce a food, wait for a few days before adding another new item to the menu. You can continue giving your baby the foods you’ve already introduced and determined to be safe but hold off introducing anything else. 

Introduce common allergens by 12 months

When introducing solid foods to your baby, include common allergy-causing foods by 12 months in an age-appropriate form (but not before 4 months), such as well-cooked egg and smooth peanut butter/paste. These foods include egg, peanut, cow’s milk (dairy), tree nuts (such as cashew or almond paste), soy, sesame, wheat, fish, and other seafood. Studies show that this may reduce the development of certain food allergies in high-risk children.

Offer your baby foods that are the right texture for their stage of development. Smooth nut spreads or nut flours can prevent choking; do not feed your baby whole nuts or nut pieces.

And remember, these introductions must be repeated to ensure your child remains allergen-free. For example, if you introduce peanut butter at 6 months – make sure it is regularly in your child’s diet. 

Watch closely for symptoms

Not all allergic reactions are severe. Some subtler symptoms can be harder to spot. A severe reaction will have more obvious symptoms such as hives or welts, face, tongue, or lip swelling, vomiting and/or diarrhoea, and difficulty breathing, while a mild reaction may only be visible as a rash or hives.

If you aren’t sure what you are noticing with your baby is a result of food allergies, get in touch with your paediatrician to confirm.

Get your child tested

Your doctor might refer you to an allergist (allergy specialist doctor), who will ask more questions and do a physical exam. The allergist may order diagnostic tests such as:

  • Skin tests. Skin tests involve placing liquid extracts of food allergens on your child's forearm or back, pricking the skin, and waiting to see if reddish raised spots form within 15 minutes. A positive test with food only shows that your child might be sensitive to that food.

  • Blood tests. Blood tests check the blood for IgE antibodies to specific foods.

Some allergies go away with time so regular testing can be helpful. Egg and milk allergies often go away as children get older, but peanut, tree nut, and shellfish allergies are more likely to persist. 

myWellaBee has plenty of tips for managing food allergies

If you or someone in your family has a food allergy, your baby has an increased risk of also developing allergies. Although it is not a certainty, this can make the milestone of introducing your baby to solid foods a stressful experience. Whether you have a family history of food allergies or not, it is important to introduce your baby to common allergies by the time they are one year old. If you want more useful tips on managing life with food allergies and an extensive range of allergy-friendly food products filtered by dietary restrictions, shop MyWellaBee today.

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