Food Allergies in Babies, and how to introduce new foods successfully!

Introducing common allergy causing food to your baby can feel scary, especially if you have a family history of food allergies, but it's important that we do introduce these foods as evidence tells us doing so has better outcomes. Studies show that delayed introduction of these foods has been shown to actually increase the chance of developing a food allergy.

To relieve some of those anxious feelings there are a few things you can do...

  • Introduce these foods in the day time so you have all day to monitor how they respond.

  • Do this with someone you trust, this may be your partner, Mum, friend. Having someone there to offer support (even if it is just emotional support) is great!

  • Some parents have taken their children into medical centres to introduce these foods, talk to your GP about this option!

The Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASIA) has given us clear recommendations to introducing common allergy causing foods. Common allergy causing foods include : egg, peanut, cow's milk (dairy), tree nuts, soy, sesame, wheat, fish and other seafood.

The ASIA recommendations are as follows:

  • Include common allergy causing foods by the ages of 12 months of age. This includes babies who have severe eczema, another food allergy or a family member with food allergy, even though they may have a higher chance of developing food allergy.

  • Studies show that this may reduce the chance of developing food allergy in babies with severe eczema or egg allergy.

  • Once introduced, continue to give these foods to your baby regularly (twice weekly), as part of a varied diet, to maintain tolerance. Trying a food and then not giving it regularly may result in food allergy development.

It is important to note that some babies may still develop a food allergy despite following this advice. If your baby has an allergic reaction, stop giving that food and seek medical advice.

Now onto two of the most common food intolerance tests parents will try and be nervous about...EGGS & PEANUTS!

Here is an example from ASIA on how to introduce:

Introduce well cooked egg and smooth peanut butter/paste in small amounts to start with as you qould other foods.

- Mix a small amount (1/4 teaspoon), of hard boiled egg or peanut butter/paste into your little ones usual food (such as veggie puree).

- Gradually increase the amount if your baby is not having any allergic reactions, for example next time try 1/2 teaspoon.

You can rub a small amount of the food inside your baby's lip as a starting point, If there is no allergic reaction after a few minutes, you can start giving small amounts of the food as described above.

  • Never smear or rub food on your baby's skin, as this will not help to identify possible food allergies.

What should you do if you baby has an allergic reaction?

  • If you notice any swelling of the lips, eyes of face, hives or welts, vomiting, or any change in your baby's well-being (becoming very unsettled), soon after giving a new food, your baby could be having an allergic reaction. You should stop feeding your baby that food & seek medical advice.

  • Call an ambulance immediately if there are any signs of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) such as difficult/ noisy breaking or your baby becomes pale and floppy, or if their tongue begins swelling.

  • Allergic reactions usually occur quickly, within minutes, while. other reactions to food may be delayed.

  • It is important to note that minor redness around the mouth is most often due to skin irritation and is not usually due to an allergic reaction

For more information about introducing new foods to your little one or advice about food allergy head to

Yours in health,

Kirsty Doig, Paediatric Dietician

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