Skip to content
food allergens guide for infants

A Parent’s Guide to Food Allergens in Infants

In the United States, 33 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.6 million children under age 18. About 40% of them are allergic to more than one food. For infants, the most common allergens are cow’s milk and eggs. Other common allergens include nuts, soy, and seafood like fish or shellfish. 

However, in numerous research studies, food allergies can be prevented by introducing allergens early in your children’s lives. For example, in 2015, a trial study revealed that the early introduction of peanuts to babies with a risk of developing food allergies could reduce the risk of developing peanut allergies by 81%.

As a result, regular exposure builds tolerance for these allergens, and as a result, they become a part of your baby’s usual diet. 

If you’re a parent concerned about your kid’s allergies, let’s explore them together in this guide. We’ll be highlighting the most common allergens and how you can help your children navigate them. 

food allergens for infants

Image by Freepik

What are allergens?

Allergens are substances that can trigger allergic reactions in some individuals. Common allergens include:

  • Peanuts 
  • Tree nuts (almonds, cashews, pecans, hazelnuts, etc.)
  • Seeds (sesame, mustard, sunflower, etc.)
  • Eggs 
  • Cow’s milk
  • Soy (tofu, soy sauce, soy milk)
  • Wheat (gluten)
  • Fish and shellfish (prawns, lobster, crabs)

While food allergies can develop at any age, research suggests that introducing allergenic foods early in a baby's diet may help reduce the risk of developing allergies later in life.

How do I know my baby is allergic to certain foods?

Some of the allergy symptoms in children include: 

  • Sneezing
  • A runny or blocked nose
  • Red, itchy, watery eyes
  • Wheezing and coughing
  • A red, itchy rash
  • Worsening of asthma or eczema symptoms

In more severe cases, allergens can cause anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock, which may need medical treatment.

When do I start introducing allergens to my baby?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends introducing allergenic foods to infants when they are developmentally ready to start solid foods, typically around six months of age. However, every baby is different, so it's essential to consult with your pediatrician before introducing allergenic foods, especially if there is a family history of food allergies or other risk factors.

food allergens guide for infants

Image by Freepik

How do I introduce allergenic foods to my baby?

When introducing allergenic foods to your baby, it's essential to do so in a safe and controlled manner. Here are some guidelines to follow:

1. Start small 

Introduce the allergens to your baby’s diet in small amounts to reduce the risk of a more severe allergic reaction. Try to incorporate pureed, ground, or mashed versions of these foods. For example, add less than a teaspoon’s amount of finely ground nut into your baby’s meal. If your baby doesn’t have an allergic reaction on the first day, gradually increase the amount over the next few days if there’s no reaction.

2. Introduce them one at a time

When introducing allergens to your baby’s diet for the first time, it would be wise to offer them one at a time. Wait a few days before introducing another to ensure a food was well-tolerated, and to know which food was responsible for any potential allergic reaction. 

Most importantly, listen to your baby’s cues. Stick to a routine that is most comfortable for them, like introducing an allergen after they wake up in the morning every 2-3 days if there’s no allergy reaction. 

3. Introduce allergens early during the day

Most allergic reactions occur within two hours of ingestion, so it’s best to introduce them early in the morning. Offer a small amount when your baby is alert and well-rested (e.g. in the morning after they wake up). 

Likewise, it’s best to introduce allergens at home or when one adult can fully pay attention to your baby so you can monitor them after they’ve ingested it. Avoid introducing allergens at a restaurant or at a daycare facility where you can get distracted in between the two-hour window for a reaction. 

4. Regular exposure

Once an allergen is safely introduced and established into your baby’s life, keep the food on a regular rotation. However, do make sure you’re confident there is no allergic reaction before upping your serving size. 

5. Be prepared

Allergy reactions for your baby can come in various forms potential reactions, such as rashes, hives, vomiting, or difficulty breathing. They can be a single reaction or may come in a combination of reactions. Seek medical attention if necessary. 

food allergen guide infants

Image by Freepik

Monitoring and managing your baby’s allergies

After introducing allergenic foods, continue to monitor your baby for any signs of allergic reactions. If you suspect your baby is allergic to a particular food, consult your pediatrician or an allergist for further evaluation and guidance. They may recommend allergy testing or an elimination diet to identify and manage the allergy effectively.

Other ways you can prevent an allergic reaction in your baby:

  • Checking food labels 
  • Monitoring the food your baby eats 
  • Keeping them away from food with allergens
  • Being cautious about cutlery or utensils that were used to handle food with specific allergens (cross-contamination)

Introducing allergenic foods to your infant can be an important step in reducing the risk of food allergies later in life. With careful planning and attention, you can help support your baby's healthy development and nutritional needs. 

Featured image by Freepik
Drawer Title
Similar Products
RuffRuff App RuffRuff App by Tsun