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Right here is one of the best ways to do it

As a paediatric allergist I’m consistently answering questions from pals, relations, sufferers and colleagues about introducing allergens to infants. Many individuals have heard that it’s vital to introduce them early, however aren’t clear on precisely why or how to take action.

I strongly encourage early introduction of the main allergens, together with milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish and sesame into your child’s food plan, as that is one of the best ways to lower their danger for creating meals allergy symptoms. As a mother, I do know this may really feel overwhelming, but it surely doesn’t should be. Listed here are some ideas for find out how to safely introduce allergens to infants.

When do you have to introduce allergens to infants?

The Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) and Canadian Society for Allergy and Medical Immunology (CSACI) suggest introducing allergens to all infants at round six months however not earlier than 4 months. This suggestion particularly applies to peanut butter and egg, since proof helps introducing these allergens early in life to assist stop the event of allergy symptoms.

Since there are 9 main classes of allergens, it poses fairly a problem to introduce all of them round six months, due to this fact, virtually, many allergists suggest beginning allergen introduction between 4 to 6 months of age. Personally, I launched solids for each my daughters at 4 months, permitting ample time to introduce allergens alongside complementary meals, akin to iron-rich meals, vegetables and fruit. I used to be breastfeeding on the time and continued to take action; introducing solids didn’t intervene with this.

Is introducing allergens vital for all infants?

In my medical expertise, many households don’t really feel the necessity to introduce allergens early as a result of they really feel that their youngster is at low danger for creating meals allergy symptoms. I usually hear that “meals allergy symptoms don’t run in our household”. Whereas I want it could possibly be that straightforward, sadly, it’s not. In response to the Canadian Paediatric Society, an toddler is taken into account to be at excessive danger for creating meals allergy symptoms if the toddler himself has allergy symptoms or eczema, or if there may be a direct member of the family with an allergic situation. For instance, an toddler whose sister has bronchial asthma is excessive danger; an toddler whose mum or dad has seasonal allergy symptoms can be excessive danger. Backside line—your child’s danger could also be greater than you suppose. Meals allergy may also develop even in infants with no danger components.

The best way to introduce the highest allergens

First, let me be clear: Introducing allergens signifies that your child must be consuming the allergenic meals—not rubbed on the cheek or lip. It isn’t really helpful (and doubtlessly dangerous) to use meals onto your child’s pores and skin earlier than feeding them.

On the subject of introducing the main allergens, there is no such thing as a specific order that must be adopted. Nonetheless, as a result of many of the proof for early introduction stems from research performed with peanut butter and egg, I are inclined to suggest introducing these first.

Whereas I like to recommend solely introducing one main allergen at a time, the normal recommendation of ready three days between introducing new meals just isn’t evidence-based and should unnecessarily delay the introduction of recent meals. It’s vital to notice that oils (eg. peanut oil, almond oil, sesame oil) don’t include sufficient protein and due to this fact, don’t depend as enough allergen publicity. When introducing allergens (and stable meals normally) keep away from laborious or chunky meals, as they’re choking hazards. Additionally, keep away from any uncooked or undercooked meals (e.g. uncooked eggs, fish or shellfish) and unpasteurized dairy.

As soon as an allergen is launched, it is very important keep it in your child’s food plan frequently. How usually? The reality is, we don’t know the exact reply to this, though giving much less usually than as soon as per week could also be ineffective. Ideally, I like to recommend two to 3 occasions per week to begin, although this may be tougher upon getting launched a number of allergens. In that case, I counsel aiming for a minimum of as soon as per week.


  • Don’t feed complete peanuts as they’re a choking hazard
  • Peanut butter from the jar is simply too thick for infants, so you’ll be able to dilute clean peanut butter with scorching water (then cool earlier than feeding it on a spoon), breast milk, method, or fruit purees and feed it on a spoon. (If in case you have peanut flour or peanut butter powder available, this works too.)
  • Peanut puffs (eg. Bamba Peanut Snack) are additionally a straightforward solution to introduce peanuts to a child, though they need to be softened in case your child is below 7 months.


  • Egg white and yolk might be launched collectively. There is no such thing as a benefit to introducing these individually
  • Provide your toddler tiny, smooth items of scrambled egg. It could possibly generally take infants a couple of tries to get used to the feel of the egg so in the event that they don’t prefer it the primary time, maintain attempting.
  • Cooked scrambled egg may also be pureed with breast milk, method, water, or perhaps a fruit or vegetable puree.
  • One other nice possibility is a tough boiled egg, both mashed or blended with water, breastmilk or a puree and ate up a spoon.


  • In case your child is being fed with a cow’s milk-based method, then they’re already being uncovered to cow’s milk. If utilized in early infancy, persevering with cow’s milk method in small quantities day by day was proven in current analysis to stop cow’s milk allergy, whereas stopping it elevated the danger of creating cow’s milk allergy. 
  • Many frequent child cereals will checklist ‘skim milk powder’ as an ingredient and can be utilized to introduce milk. Nonetheless, when you have not launched wheat but, select an oat or rice cereal that doesn’t include wheat.
  • Yogurt or cottage cheese are additionally nice (if a bit messy!) methods to introduce milk.
  • Notice that up till 9 months of age, infants ought to drink both breast milk or method. Round 9 to 12 months of age, it’s okay to introduce homo milk.


  • Many households use soy sauce in cooking, but it surely doesn’t include sufficient soy protein to be thought of an introduction and it’s additionally excessive in salt
  • You might even see soy lecithin on an ingredient checklist for issues like child cereals and method, but it surely additionally doesn’t depend as a soy publicity
  • Serve further smooth tofu – by itself, or blended with different fruit/vegetable purees.
  • Steam and puree edamame and feed on a spoon.
  • Serve soy yogurt, blended with a fruit puree should you’d like.


  • You’ll be able to introduce wheat by feeding child cereals containing ‘wheat flour’—nonetheless, keep away from these with skim milk powder within the substances until your child is already tolerating dairy.
  • Your child can eat cooked smooth pasta however take into account some sauces, notably tomato sauce, can generally trigger redness/irritation of the pores and skin (this isn’t an allergy and isn’t a priority)
  • Pancakes (if the opposite substances akin to egg and/or dairy have already been efficiently launched).

Tree nuts

  • Tree nuts are essentially the most daunting allergen to introduce as a result of there are such a lot of of them, and introducing one doesn’t depend as an introduction to all. The principle tree nuts that allergists suggest to introduce embrace almond, cashew, pistachio, hazelnut, walnut, and pecan.
  • Different tree nuts that you would be able to contemplate introducing early are: Brazil nut, Macadamia nut and pine nut (which is technically a seed). Nonetheless, allergy to those particular tree nuts is comparatively uncommon, so some allergists really feel that they don’t have to be prioritized. 
  • There is no such thing as a specific order that tree nuts have to be launched. Nonetheless, when my sufferers ask for extra particular steerage, I often suggest prioritizing (in no specific order) cashew, hazelnut and walnut, as allergy to those is extra frequent. Enjoyable truth: cashew is intently associated to pistachio, so by consuming cashew often, your youngster may even achieve safety towards creating a pistachio allergy. Equally, walnut is intently associated to pecan, so by consuming walnut often, your youngster may even achieve safety towards creating a pecan allergy.
  • Introduce them utilizing clean nut butters (eg. almond butter, cashew butter, hazelnut butter) – these have to be diluted just like peanut butter, above.
  • You too can grind the tree nuts right into a high-quality flour-like consistency – watch out to test for any chunks, which might be a choking hazard. This may be blended with cereals, yogurts (if dairy has already been launched), smoothies, fruit purees, and many others.
  • When you’ve had an opportunity to introduce the tree nuts individually, one of the best ways to keep up them in your child’s food plan is by utilizing a blended nut butter or floor tree nuts mixed with yogurt, cereal, fruit/vegetable purees, smoothies, baked items and in sandwiches (for older kids).


  • It’s not possible to introduce each sort of fish, so I encourage households to introduce a wide range of fish, particularly ones that the household enjoys to eat. For these in search of a straightforward ‘rule’ on what to prioritize, I are inclined to suggest salmon, canned tuna and a white fish.
  • Serve small items/flakes of soppy, cooked fish
  • For youthful infants, steamed fish might be blended with different vegetables- for instance, I prefer to steam salmon and potato after which mix them collectively for my 5 month outdated daughter.
  • Mild canned tuna is the popular type of tuna in line with the FDA (as a result of concern relating to mercury ranges in different types of tuna, akin to Albacore tuna). Some consultants suggest ready till your child is a minimum of six months earlier than serving tuna due to mercury ranges. Keep away from the very best mercury fish akin to shark, swordfish and marlin.
  • All the time be certain all bones have been faraway from the fish previous to feeding.


  • If shellfish just isn’t part of your loved ones’s food plan (for non secular, cultural or different causes), don’t fear about introducing it, particularly should you’re solely going to feed it a few times as that will likely be ineffective. If shellfish is part of your loved ones’s food plan, it nonetheless could also be troublesome and never all the time sensible to offer each sort of shellfish to your toddler. From an allergen standpoint, I like to recommend that sufferers concentrate on a minimum of one crustacean (shrimp, crab, lobster) and one mollusk (eg. clam or scallop)
  • Since shellfish generally is a bit trickier for a child to eat, I often save this allergen for final as soon as my child has had extra follow with consuming.
  • Choices embrace steamed shrimp, reduce into tiny items or blended with a vegetable puree or small items of soppy, cooked lobster tail or scallop
  • Your child would possibly take pleasure in lobster bisque or clam chowder, assuming different substances akin to dairy have already been launched (make sure you keep away from giant chunks)
  • Crab truffles, assuming different allergenic substances have been launched, are another choice.


  • Hummus is a protected, wholesome and scrumptious solution to introduce sesame. Notice that some kids can develop contact/irritant reactions from the lemon juice, salt and garlic, however this isn’t an allergy
  • Tahini may also be given plain though not all infants benefit from the style, through which case it may be blended with fruits or inside a smoothie.
  • Sesame oil and sesame seeds usually don’t include enough sesame protein to depend as a sesame publicity.

What about baby-led weaning?

Unpopular opinion: I’m not the largest fan of child led weaning (BLW). Since BLW encourages self-feeding with finger meals, it tends to begin at age 6 months. It’s felt that this strategy can have many advantages – together with self-feeding abilities, high-quality motor abilities, and publicity to completely different tastes and textures. Nonetheless, as an allergist, my primary problem with BLW is that it isn’t all the time conducive with introducing allergens early. Moreover, self-feeding results in extra meals being smeared on the pores and skin, which may generally trigger irritation that’s mistaken for meals allergy and infrequently complicated. So, for the BLW followers, I’d like to supply a compromise: Contemplate beginning solids (together with allergens) between 4 to 6 months in a baby-safe format, which can not all the time embrace finger meals (and that’s okay!). Particularly for the frequent allergens, strongly contemplate feeding these meals with a spoon for the primary a number of weeks, so that you don’t mistake irritation from smeared meals as an allergic response. When your child reaches six months or is extra developmentally prepared for finger meals, you’ll be able to transition to Child Led Weaning. Infants can nonetheless study self-feeding abilities from consuming purees. My little ones beloved to suck their fingers and loved attempting to feed themselves with a smooth child spoon.

What are the signs of an allergic response?

The overwhelming majority of allergic reactions will happen inside two hours of consuming the meals. Signs embrace hives, swelling (eg. swollen lips, swollen pores and skin across the eyes), vomiting, stomach ache, coughing, wheezing, hoarse voice or hoarse cry, irritability and lethargy.

The excellent news: the danger of a extreme response when infants eat a meals for the primary time is extraordinarily low. As nicely, anaphylaxis in infants tends to be milder in comparison with anaphylaxis in older kids. All of the extra motive to introduce allergens when your youngsters are infants.

Keep in mind, infants can get rashes for many completely different causes, mostly in affiliation with a viral sickness. Don’t assume that each rash is a meals allergy—particularly if the rash lasts for greater than a day, if the rash got here on randomly (slightly than inside two hours of consuming an allergen), or in case your child has been experiencing infectious signs akin to fever, runny nostril or cough.

Additionally some rashes are nonallergic contact reactions. In case your child develops flat or dry redness of the pores and skin that’s remoted to areas the place the meals contacts the pores and skin (e.g. across the mouth or chin), this is perhaps what we name a contact or irritant response. That is NOT an allergy, however can generally be mistaken for one. The distinction is that contact reactions will not be dangerous, and you do not want to keep away from these meals. If you’re uncertain, take images and test along with your doctor. In case your child has eczema or delicate pores and skin, you’ll be able to contemplate making use of a protecting barrier to the pores and skin earlier than feeding new meals. I like to make use of Vaseline for this function and apply it across the lips, cheeks and chin, earlier than and after feeding. Eliminating meals out of your child’s food plan for the aim of treating eczema is strongly discouraged—in the long run, this may increasingly improve your child’s danger for creating anaphylaxis to those self same meals.

What do you do in case your child has an allergic response?

If there are any issues for extreme allergic signs name 911 and search speedy medical consideration. In case your youngster already has recognized meals allergy symptoms and carries an epinephrine autoinjector, this ought to be administered directly.

For delicate signs, it is strongly recommended to watch your youngster very intently and have a low threshold to hunt medical consideration if any additional issues develop. Contemplate taking images of any pores and skin reactions. Keep away from the precise meals that was consumed till you may have an opportunity to talk along with your doctor.

It is very important notice that epinephrine is the one life-saving therapy for a extreme allergic response. Benadryl (diphenhydramine) just isn’t really helpful, as a result of it usually causes drowsiness, which is troublesome to distinguish from drowsiness related to a extreme allergic response.

Melanie Conway is a paediatrician, paediatric allergist, and a mother with two women, Rebecca (2.5 years) and Freya (5 months).

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