As a board-certified allergist, I’ve seen firsthand how families struggle with food allergies. Thankfully, findings from recent landmark studies show that you can reduce your child’s risk of developing a food allergy by introducing them to allergenic foods early (at 4-11 months of age) and often. Unfortunately, early allergen introduction can be challenging, as many infants are not developmentally ready for solid foods at 4 months. In addition, they are often picky eaters, making it difficult for parents to follow the guidelines.
To help make allergen introduction easier, I compiled 7 helpful tips parents can use, based on the recent studies, to help reduce baby’s risk of developing a food allergy.
1 out of 13 children in the U.S. suffer from a food allergy, but, over half of children diagnosed with food allergies have no family history. So, all infants are at risk for developing food allergies, and almost all infants can benefit from being introduced to allergens early and often. (If your baby has severe eczema, speak with your pediatrician before introducing allergenic foods.)
Choosing the right time to introduce your baby to allergens is crucial. Talk to your pediatrician before you introduce allergens, especially if your child has severe eczema. Once you’re ready to start, make sure your baby is healthy. Also, pick a time when an adult can watch your baby for at least 2 hours, in case of a reaction.
4-11 months of age is a critical window for allergy prevention. During this time, babies’ immune systems start to develop positive or negative responses to food proteins. Fortunately, your baby is less likely to develop an allergy if they’ve eaten allergenic foods consistently during the window. So, take advantage of this time and introduce your baby to allergens at 4-11 months.
Frequent allergen exposure is just as important as early allergen exposure. Studies show that feeding babies allergenic foods only once or twice won't reduce their risk of developing a food allergy. Instead, in these studies, infants ate allergenic foods 2-7 times a week for 3-6 months (or more). So, make sure to continue to feed your babies allergenic foods multiple times a week for several months.
Peanut, egg, and milk comprise over 80% of all childhood food allergies. In addition, studies indicate that with early and sustained introduction, there can be a significant reduction in the development of an allergy to these foods.
For the safest and most effective allergen introduction, start with a smaller amount of the allergen, monitor for reactions, and slowly increase the amount during the feeding.
Babies are often picky eaters at 4-6 months of age, and it’s hard to get them to consistently eat enough. In one of the recent studies, more than 50% of parents weren’t able to stick with the early allergen introduction protocol. So, they did not necessarily see a decrease in food allergy. As a mom, I know how difficult allergen introduction can be. When my son David was 5 months old, I tried to feed him egg, peanut, and yogurt snacks multiple times per week. Unfortunately, this process was very time-consuming and frustrating---most of what I offered my son to eat ended up on his face or on my kitchen floor. This experience inspired my colleagues and I to develop an easier solution for parents to help reduce their baby’s risk of developing a food allergy by up to 80% with Ready, Set, Food!
After over a year of research and development, we’re proud to offer Ready, Set, Food! to families everywhere -- our gentle, guided system that:
We’ve partnered with Owlet to make allergen introduction even easier! Receive $20 off any Ready, Set, Food! subscription (promo code: OWLET20) and give your child the best defense against food allergies!
To learn more about Ready, Set, Food!, and take advantage of this exclusive offer, visit the website here.